It’s that time of year when high school and college students are coming into their last weeks of their term with final exams looming in the not-too-distant future. All of the reading done during the semester/year ideally needs to be reviewed to get mentally refreshed about the content.

But who REALLY wants to do that?! And who has time?! I personally dislike doing work twice.

When I was in college, I pulled ONE all-nighter to re-read a textbook for an exam the next morning. I “read” the material, meaning my eyes went over the words with little comprehension, and by morning, I was bleary-eyed and fuzzy in my thinking. This Herculean effort wasn’t a significant help for doing well on this exam and I forgot almost everything soon after. I vowed to never pull an all-nighter again, and I’m happy to say I haven’t!

Instead, I now advocate for using this simple strategy for reviewing material you already read. It’s REALLY simple, so simple you probably won’t believe it until you try it. It forces you to be active, mindful and conscious when you read unlike many who are passive, mindless and unconscious! Know that it is meant to be used for non-fiction material only.

Are you ready for how easy this is?! Ok, here it is for any non-fiction material:

  1. Read the introductory paragraph(s) to understand where the reading is going, then
  2. Read JUST the first sentence of each paragraph (don’t get sucked into more unless you choose to), then
  3. Read the last paragraph or two in its entirety which usually acts as a conclusion.

That’s it! What you’re getting is the skeleton of the writer’s outline with most of the main ideas expressed in the first sentences of paragraphs. IF you want more from that paragraph, go ahead and read more but then STOP reading everything and go back to reading just the first sentences only.

Some call this Cheat Reading; I call it SMART Reading! Try it on all your non-fiction reading including magazines, newspapers, blog posts, textbook chapters, and more. Let me know if you think its cheating, or just smart!

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