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Buzan on how to study a textbook

Updated Wednesday, 6th August 2008

Tony Buzan offers his advice on how to study a textbook

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How to study a textbook

Tony has done a lot of thinking about the way people study. Again he maintains that in the main children or students are simply expected to start absorbing facts and information, and expected to read text books without first having been taught the way to go about the task of study itself. As a result they often get frustrated, bored and when it comes to books only get as far as the first few pages before being distracted or even dozing off.

Mike and Tony study a textbook Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team Tony’s better way of doing things starts out from his observations about how our brains actually operate. He identifies a Memory Rhythm which means that we remember things better at the beginning and end of any study session. Thus, if we set out to have shorter study sessions with regular breaks, there are going to be more beginnings and ends and we’ll remember more. The same rhythm also means that if at the commencement of a fresh study session we do a quick reprise of the last thing we were studying, facts and information can be more successfully lodged into memory and ultimately be remembered long term.

When approaching a new textbook for the first time, it is important to first survey the contents, find out what information the book can provide, read any summaries or conclusions and make a plan as to exactly what you expect to get out of it - all this before you start to read. This is much better than simply wading in at page one.

Mindmap Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team One of Tony’s major innovations is Mind Mapping. This is a pictorial note-taking technique which uses colour and shape to produce a set of radial notes for any given topic of study. Often they can fit on one page and can even represent a whole book. A completed Mind Map note resembles a tree with all its branches or dandelion head with all its seeds. The similarity with structures in nature and the geography of the brain is intentional. As a Mind Map note develops the student adds more details to the various branches, in doing so he or she constantly reviews what has been written before and in so doing can further increase comprehension.

Take it further

Tony has published a large number of books, including Use your Head Use Your Memory, The Speedreading Book, The Mind Map Book and Master Your Memory.

Fancy taking your interest in psychology further? Why not discover how the Open University can let you explore this area in more detail?





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