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Three Times Makes Easy

Some students appear to be "quick studies." They read, understand, and remember instantly, perhaps because they have learned similar things before. This is unusual.

Reading a college textbook chapter a second or third time is normal and expected. It is highly desirable, especially if the subject matter is unfamiliar.

A pleasant discovery for many students is that deep compre­hension may occur easily by the third reading. That led a student to suggest the slogan: "Three Times Makes Easy."

  1. On the first pass through a chapter, individual concepts became familiar, but they do not form a coherent whole. Students visiting my office were at this stage if I asked a quickcheck question or two, and they would say, "I studied that!" (they recognized the concepts) but they could not actually generate answers.
  2. On the second pass through a chapter, linkages form. A few things fall into place. It starts to make sense.
  3. On the third pass through a chapter, everything becomes clear. Often it seems "simple" or "obvious" in retrospect. A student at this level feels confident with the material and is capable of tutoring another student.

What three part comprehension process does the author suggest?

To repeat, college level textbooks normally require more than one reading. Sometimes multiple readings are the key and that's all it takes.

True, one must be able to understand college-level English (a significant barrier for some students). This technique also requires good time management. Slow careful reading takes time and cannot be done at the last minute.

The three repetitions are most effective when done on different days. That rules out cramming.

Reading three times is still a good choice, however, if you can find the time...and you should. Time management skills are among the most valuable things many people learn in college.

Why is it not sufficient to memorize the shortest possible answer to the study questions?

Keep in mind a fact discussed earlier: these quickcheck questions identify topics and sometimes you will be asked related information on a quiz, not just the shortest possible answer.

Be able to discuss the answer to a question, not just regurgitate a short answer. Then you should do very well on tests.


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


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