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Buzan Study Skills Handbook: The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques (Mind Set)Tony Buzan
In Buzan's Study Skills, three of Tony Buzan's most enduring subjects - Memory, Speed Reading and Mind Mapping - are combined in a single guide to enable students to make the most of their studies. Improve grades, make more effective notes, plan better essays, make associations between different subjects, have at-a-glance notes and records for easy revision, learn how to use effective memory techniques to recall information and increase reading speeds up to 1000 words per minute. The perfect guide for any student who wants to get more from their studies, improve their brainpower, consolidate their concentration and learn from the master of memory - Tony Buzan.
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This book was just amazing
28 August 2013 (13:14)
Buzan Study Skills Handbook_The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques, 2006_(Tony Buzan).pdf
pages: 189 (Scanned version)
pages: 189 (Scanned version)
12 June 2019 (05:29)
Merykisedek Deogratias Katuna
I wish I could have studied it earlier in 2010, i got it in 2017, it is best book ever about study skills, The late Tony Buzan left us the superb shortcuts to studies. I recommend it for ever student above primary school. It helped me in many ways
18 January 2020 (14:16)
BUZAN STUDYSKIL 5 THE SHORT CUT TO SUCCESS IN YOUR STUDIES WITH MIND MAPPING, SPEED READING AND WINNING MEMORY iTECHNIQUES (;J(;JSACTIVE 6 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Introduction The Buzan Study Skills Handbook comprises the unique BOST® (Buzan Organic Study Technique) programme, designed specifically to improve any student's capabilities to prepare for those dreaded higher school, college and university exams, essays, tests, modules and coursework generally. This handbook will help you overcome your quite rational fears about exams and pressured study, and you will discover in these pages a new and totally positive way to learn, using your fantastic brain and mind power. It is no mere boast. The BOST programme has been honed from 35 years' experience in the field of study skills, brain power, recall after learning, Radiant Thinking® techniques, concentration, and the multi-dimensional memory tool; the Mind Map®. The structured skills set out here will quite literally enhance your capabilities in leaps and bounds to: o o Prepare with confidence for study, exams and tests. Read far more quickly and efficiently than you thought possible. o Note-take and note-make even more effectively. Memorize and recall what you have learnt far more o successfully. Get into a revision mind-set but still enjoy 'time outs' to relax. o o Increase your revising capacity dramatically using Mind Maps (described as 'the Swiss army knife of the brain'). Incorporating the unique BOST programme, this handbook will provide you with the confidence and the means to fulfil your own study potential- whatever your subjects or academic level. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Fear and loathing of exams and revision If you're sceptical (and why wouldn't you be?), before you even turn a page, ask yourself this: o o o o o Do I fear exams? Am I a reluctant learn; er? Am I daunted about the amount of studying I have to do? Do I do everything except getting down to revising? Do I displace time rather than plan it? o Do I find it hard to retain, remember and recall information? o Do I feel I have to study a reference cover to cover in order to grasp it? o o Do I work when I'm too tired or distracted? Do I believe the best way to absorb information is to read a text top to bottom, cover to cover? o Do I learn by rote without really understanding? My guess is that you have answered yes to at least one (if not all!) of these questions, making this study skills guide the ideal tool for perfecting your studying techniques. Whatever exam you are studying for in higher education, chances are you are not storing and retrieving information, data, facts and figures and reference as quickly and effectively as you have the potential to do. This may be because of: o Lack of motivation. o o Accumulation of bad studying habits. No 'game plan' for revising and note-taking specific essays, exams, projects, subjects or papers. o Apprehension and anxiety about pressures of time and amount of study. o No 'Operations Manual' for your brain. • • • ••• • • • •• • • • •• • • • • •• • •••• • • • ••• • • •• •• • • • •• • • • • •• •• • •• INTRODUCTION 7 8 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Your fears - and they are entirely rational- and feelings of negativity are something you look at, you admit, you accept, you know that everybody else feels them and, by the way, they're totally unnecessary. The downward spiral of study fear Imagine this scenario (if it hasn't happened to you already): the teacher slams the book 'bang!' on the table and says this is the book you will be examined on, this is your test book, and if you don't do well on this book and if you don't understand every single concept in these pages then you will fail. So take it home and read it slowly and carefully... And that's what you do... it weighs a lot physically, and mentally it is a lot. Then all sorts of evasive actions or displacement activities kick in: you go to the fridge, you watch TV, you txt msg friends and finally you sit down with the tome. What then happens? If you read for two hours - a long time - at normal study speeds with habitual breaks in concentration, you're probably reading a page in maybe five minutes and taking notes, very often for ten minutes, so after two hours in which you are already forgetting what you read, you cover a tiny fraction of the book. And you can physically see how little you've covered: it's been hard, laborious, you've got eye-ache, ear-ache, headache, neck-ache, back-ache, bum-ache, all the aches, and you've got.that much to go and you know you're going to forget most of it. As you go through your horrible linear notes week-in, week-out, month-in, month-out, forgetting as you go along like scattering seeds that die as you sew, and the examinations are looming, you know you're doomed - and your are. •• • • • • • •••••••••• ••••••• • • • • • •• • • • • • • • • • • ••••••• ••• • • • • • • • • • • • •••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• You get demoralized and say, 'Sod this for a lark,' and you go and have a beer. And then it's a slippery slide to crib notes, asking friends, scouring the web, trying to make the professor or teacher give something away. All this is entirely rationally based, because you are right: this type of study is fundamentally a waste of time. You must learn how to do it properly. Now you can, if you work through and practise with the Buzan Study Skills Handbook. Your negative spiral will become a positive, motivating experience. How to do it: how to get the most from this study guide Every part of this book should be the first page - when structuring this book it became apparent that any chapter could be 'Chapter l' because everything is vitally important. So I suggest you first skim through the various chapters of this book to 'get a feel' for the contents and approach, and then take a closer look at each chapter. Each one deals with a different aspect of your brain's functioning and gives you different ways to unlock and harness it as an exponentially more effective study tool. Chapter 1: Your brain: it's better than you think, really shows you what an amazing instrument for study your brain is and can be for you. Case studies of students who have used the BOST programme are highlighted to show its application and versatility in different study scenarios. It explains how you should never underestimate your own potential, and how you can unlock the incredible capacity of your brain. ••• • •• •• • • ••• • • •• •• • • • ••• • • • •• • • • •• • • •• • • • • ••• • ••• ••• •• INTRODUCTION 9 10 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Chapter 2: Obstacles to effective study examines the mental, emotional and physical 'blocks' and barriers to effective study so that you can relate to them and not feel intimidated by the weight of expectation as exams loom. The core skills of the BOST programme are then set out in the subsequent chapters. Chapter 3: BOST® gives you the simple-to-follow eightpoint BOST strategy for study Preparation and Application. Preparation includes the key skills of browsing, time management, refreshing memory and defining questions and goals, while Application is divided into the Overview, Preview, Inview and Review skills. Chapter 4: Speed reading. Do you read so slowly that you're falling asleep in the university library? You obviously need to speed up your reading and comprehension of what you are studying and revising. This chapter is much more than just grasping a technique: it also shows you how to concentrate, how to skim and scan data and, critically, how your studying environment and posture influence your propensity and desire to learn. This chapter will help you save time and study more efficiently. As you bring speed reading skills to the core of your revision studies alongside Mind Mapping (see Chapters 6 and 7) and harnessing your memory (Chapter 5) your confidence will also increase. In Chapter 5: Supercharge your memory I am going to teach the main techniques you need to use to remember, and these techniques will support what you go on to learn about Mind Mapping in Chapters 6 and 7. I explain how you can improve memory both during and after learning. In addition, •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• two Key Memory Systems to assist your studies are introduced for the perfect memorization of listed items. Chapter 6: Mind Maps® lays out this unique memory, recall and revision method that echoes your mind's internal 'maps'. The Mind Map is a multi-dimensional memory jogger and a fantastic revision tool. Understanding the way you think will help you to use words and imagery in Mind Map formats for recording, revising, recalling, remembering, organizing, creative thinking and problem solving in your studies and when revising for exams. You must also be able to store, recall and retrieve information and data effectively. Chapter 7: Revolutionize your study with Mind Maps@ and BOST® is your final step along the pathway to success. Here you will learn how to apply your finely tuned Mind Mapping techniques to all aspects of your study. You will learn how to Mind Map your textbooks, DVDs and lecture notes, and you will discover the benefits of Mind Mapping in group study. Remember to revisit the core skills that you feel need refreshing and not to treat the Buzan Study Skills Handbook in a totally linear cover-to-cover fashion. I'll stress it again: every part of this book should be the first page. It is also essential that you practise if you wish to be able to use effectively the methods and information laid out in the Buzan Study Skills Handbook. At various stages in the book are exercises and suggestions for further activity. In addition you should work out your own practice and study schedule, keeping to it as firmly as possible. • • •• • • • • • •• •• • • • • •• •• • ••• • • • • •• •• • •• • •• • ••• • •••• • • •• •• • INTRODUCTION 11 12 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Having gathered the core components of the BOST programme, you can then incorporate all these previous areas of knowledge into a comprehensive study mind set: o o o To study hyper-efficiently. To organize effectively. To read every study book at minimally twice your previous speed. To remember what you have learned twice as well. To Mind Map your books and notes in such a way that you o o will be able to remember your subjects four to ten times better. So get ready to fulfil your real potential for effective and successful study with the aid of the BOST programme incorporating speed reading, Mind Mapping and memory recall - the ultimate combination of study skills tapping in to your greatest asset, that is, your brain. Let me know of your success! c •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 1 YOUR BRAIN: IT'S BETTER THAN YOU THINK, REALLY 16 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK Your brain is an extraordinary, super-powered processor capable of boundless and interconnected thoughts: if only you know how to harness it, studying will cease to be a fraught and stressful exercise, and will be fast, easy and fruitful. Your amazing brain began to evolve over 500 million years ago, but it's only in the last 500 years that we've discovered that it is located in your head, and not your stomach or heart (as Aristotle and a lot other famous scientists believed). Even more amazing is the fact that 95 per cent of what we know about your brain and how it works was discovered within the last ten years. We have so much more to learn. Your brain has five major functions: 1 2 Receiving - Your brain receives information via your senses. Storing - Your brain retains and stores the information and is able to access it on demand. (Although it may not always feel that way to you!) 3 Analyzing - Your brain recognizes patterns and likes to organize information in ways that make sense: by examining information and questioning meaning. 4 Controlling - Your brain controls the way you manage information in different ways, depending upon your state of health, your personal attitude and your environment. S Outputting - Your brain outputs received information through thoughts, speech, drawing, movement, and all other forms of creativity. The techniques laid out in the Buzan Study Skills Handbook will help you utilize these brain skills by helping your brain to learn, analyze, store and retrieve information effectively and on demand. • ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The man with two brains How your brain manages these superfast processes is even more astounding. The breakthrough discovery is knowing now that we have two upper brains rather than one, and that, they operate in different degrees in the different mental areas. The two sides of your brain, or your two cortices as they are called, are linked by a fantastically complex network of nerve fibres known as the Corpus Callosum, and deal dominantly with different types of mental activity. right left In most people the left cortex deals with: o logic, words, lists, lines, numbers and analysis - the so-called 'academic' activities. While the left cortex is engaged in these activities, the right cortex is more in the 'alpha wave' or resting state, ready to assist. The right cortex deals with: o rhythm, imagination, colour, daydreaming, spatial awareness, Gestalt (that is, the whole organized picture or, as you might put it, 'the whole being greater than the sum of its parts') and dimension. • • • • •• • • • • ••• • • •• • • • • •• • • • • • • • • • • •• • • •• • •• • • •• • •• • •••• • YOUR BRAIN: IT'S BETTER THAN YOU THINK, REALLY 17 18 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Subsequent research has shown that when people were encouraged to develop a mental area they had previously considered weak, this development, rather than detracting from other areas, seemed to produce a synergetic effect in which all areas of mental performance improved. Moreover, each hemisphere contains many more of the other side's abilities than had been thought previously, and each hemisphere also is capable of a much wider and much more subtle range of mental activities. Einstein, for instance, failed French at school and numbered among his activities violin playing, art, sailing, and 'imagination games'. And Einstein gave credit for many of his more significant scientific insights to those imagination games. While daydreaming on a hill one summer day, he imagined riding sunbeams to the far extremities of the Universe, and upon finding himself returned, 'illogically', to the surface of the sun, he realized that the Universe must indeed be curved, and that his previous 'logical' training was incomplete. The numbers, equations and words he wrapped around this new image gave us the Theory of Relativity - a left and right cortex synthesis. Similarly the great artists turned out to be 'whole-brained'. Rather than note books filled with stories of drunken parties, and paint slapped on haphazardly to produce masterpieces, entries similar to the following were found: Up at 6 a.m. Spent seventeenth day on painting number six of the latest series. Mixed four parts orange with two parts yellow to produce a colour combination which I placed in upper left-hand corner of canvas, to act in •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• visual opposition to spiral structures in lower right-hand corner, producing desired balance in eye of perceiver. Telling examples of just how much left-cortex activity goes into what we normally consider right-cortex pursuits. The other Da Vinci Code One man in the last thousand years stands out as a supreme example of what a human being can do if both cortical sides of the brain are developed simultaneously: Leonardo da Vinci. In his time he was arguably the most accomplished man in each of the following disciplines: art, sculpture, physiology, general science, architecture, mechanics, anatomy, physics, invention, meteorology, geology, engineering and aviation. He could also play, compose and sing spontaneous ballads when thrown any stringed instrument in the courts of Europe. Rather than separating these different areas of his latent ability, da Vinci combined them. His scientific note books are filled with threedimensional drawings and images; and, equally interesting, the final plans for his great painting masterpieces often look like architectural plans: straight lines, angles, curves and numbers incorporating mathematics, logic and precise measurements. Fulfilling your mental potential It seems, then, that when we describe ourselves as talented in certain areas and not talented in others, what we are really describing are those areas of our potential that we have successfully developed, and those areas of our potential YOUR BRAIN: IT'S BETTER THAN YOU THINK, REALLY 19 20 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• that still lie dormant, which in reality could - with the right nurturing - flourish. The two sides of your brain do not operate separately from one another - they need to work together to be at their most effective. The more you can stimulate both sides of your brain at the same time, the more effectively they will work together to help you to: Think better. o o o Remember more. Recall instantly. Stimulation for study is going to come in the guise of BOST, the Buzan Organic Study Technique programme. Using these unique and personally refined study skills - incorporating Mind Maps, Radiant Thinking, Speed Reading, Recall after Learning and other core Buzan Study Skills- your ability to master revision, learning, comprehension, exam study and preparation will be transformed. Consider, to give you confidence, these two true student cases studies: Case study - Eva 'Nobody should ever be told he or she is stupid or that they can't do something. We all have potential and it is vital that every person studying is given the best opportunity to achieve that potential. But we need ways that work for us. Tony Buzan's techniques are incredibly powerful and yet simple to learn and I strongly advocate young people being given an introduction to them at school and college, so they can maximize their enjoyment oflearning.' Eva, a researcher who transformed her study techniques through Mind Mapping. • • ••• • • • • • • • • ••• ••• • ••••••• ••••• •••• •• • •• • • •• •• • • • ••• ••• •••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Eva had a tough schooling: her school had relegated her to the 'dumb pile' and pretty explicitly told her parents she didn't have 'a hope in hell' of passing her exams. Eva, bluntly, was regarded as stupid, but in fact she was dyslexic (a condition much bette~ known about now). Moreover, she loved learning, and after an assessment by an educational psychologist when she was 13 she knew she had an above average IQ. 'SO I knew that I had to learn in a different way,' says Eva. 'My reaction to being told I was stupid and wouldn't get my ~' Levels was to work harder to prove them wrong... I can be very stubborn.' Eva was 16 when she discovered Mind Maps in the first year of her '1\ Levels. She was lucky to find a truly inspirational tutor and her parents were incredibly supportive and had real belief in her. It was her mum who found the tutor who viewed Eva as 'potential' rather than 'work', and discovered who she was and how she worked best. Eva's tutor taught her Mind Mapping and opened up a new world of learning possibilities. 'The visual appeal was huge and my organizational demon liked having everything on one page,' recalls Eva. The Mind Maps were invaluable in all her studies from '1\ levels through to her professional qualifications in marketing. 'In my studies I consistently achieved high results including many distinctions and merits. In one exam I got the highest mark in the country (CAM Advertising paper).' As Eva concludes: 'School went a long way to dampen my love of learning to the point at which the idea of three more years at University was a horror to me - which is very sad as I know I would have loved it. Tony Buzan's Mind Maps and learning techniques reintroduced that love oflearning which I cherish to this day.' •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• YOUR BRAIN: IT'S BETTER THAN YOU THINK, REALLY 21 22 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Case study - Edmund At the age of 11 years and still at his prep school, Edmund was clear in his dream. He wanted to go to Winchester College, one of the leading academic public schools in the UK. But in order to reach this goal, he had to work hard to achieve the high grades that Winchester demands. Nine months before he sat his Common Entrance exams his grades were not high enough and the target seemed far off. His mother, knowing the work of Tony Buzan and all his learning-how-to-Iearn techniques, set about teaching Edmund how to do Mind Maps and how to apply them to his school work. This was a turning point for him and very quickly, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the eight subjects that he knew he had to pass, Edmund felt in control and was able to plan his revision and study periods. First, he created a Mind Map on the eight subjects, which gave him the 'overview' he needed to recognize which subject needed more work. Then he created a Mind Map for each subject, giving a branch to the main topic headings in that subject. Thus, on just a single piece of paper, he had the whole syllabus for that one subject and could concentrate on the topics that he felt needed more revision or work. When the exams eventually came, instead of feeling a sense of panic, he was able to organize his thoughts and answers through the use of rough Mind Maps. The result was a resounding success. Edmund passed all of his exams with ease and went to the school of his dreams . •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 2 OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 26 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• You have this fantastic mind, this awesome brain power, so why do you feel fear, stress and anxiety when it comes to studying? Most people will have experienced difficulties in studying or revising for examinations. This chapter outlines these common difficulties so that you can accept and overcome your quite rational fears of the exam, test, assessment, essay, thesis and coursework. The key barriers to successful study are: o The reluctant learner. o The mental blocks to effective study. o Outdated study techniques. The reluctant learner The Six-o'clock-in-the-Evening-Enthusiastic-Determined-andWell-Intentioned-Studier-Until-Midnight is a person with whom you are probably already familiar. At 6 p.m. the student approaches his (or her) desk, and carefully organizes everything in preparation for the study period to follow. Having everything in place, he next carefully adjusts each item again, giving him time to complete the first excuse; he recalls that in the morning he did not have quite enough time to read all articles of interest in the newspaper. He also realizes that if he is going to study it is best to have such small things completely out of the way before settling down to the task at hand. He therefore leaves his desk, browses through the newspaper and notices as he browses that there are more articles of interest than he had originally thought. He also notices, as he leafs through the pages, the entertainment section. At this point it seems like a good idea to plan for the •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• evening'sJirst break - perhaps an interesting programme between 8 and 8.30 p.m. He finds the programme, and it inevitably starts at about 7 p.m. At this point, he thinks, 'Well, I've had a difficult day and it's not too long before the programme starts, and I need a rest anyway and the relaxation will really help me to get down to studying...' He returns to his desk at 7.45 p.m, because the beginning of the next programme was also a bit more interesting than he thought it would be. At this stage, he still hovers over his desk, tapping his book reassuringly as he remembers that phone call and text messaging to his two fellow students which, like the articles of interest in the newspaper, are best cleared out of the way before the serious studying begins. The phone call and texts coming back and forth, of course, are much more interesting and longer than originally planned, but eventually the intrepid studier finds himself back at his desk at about 8.30 p.m. At this point in the proceedings he actually sits down at the desk, opens the book with a display of physical determination and starts to read (usually at page one) as he experiences the first pangs of hunger and thirst. This is disastrous because he realizes that the longer he waits to satisfy the pangs, the worse they will get, and the more interrupted his study concentration will be. The obvious and only solution is a light snack, but as more and more tasty items are linked to the central core of hunger, the snack becomes a feast. Having removed this final obstacle, he returns to his desk with the certain knowledge that this time there is nothing that could possibly interfere with the dedication. The first •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 27 28 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• couple of sentences on page one are looked at again... as the studier realizes that his stomach is feeling decidedly heavy and a general drowsiness seems to have set in. Far better at this juncture to watch that other interesting half-hour programme at 10 p.m., after which the digestion will be mostly completed and the rest will enable him really to get down to the task at hand. At midnight we find him asleep in front of the TV. Even at this point, when he has been woken up by whoever comes into the room, he will think that things have not gone too badly, for after all he had a good rest, a good meal, watched some interesting and relaxing programmes, fulfilled his social commitments to his friends, digested the day's information, and got everything completely out of the way so that tomorrow, at 6 p.m. .. Fear of (coming to grips with) study is rational. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• At the present time information is being given more importance and emphasis than the individual. As a result, the reluctant learner is being mentally swamped and almost literally 'weighed down' by it all. Both the information and publication explosions are still continuing at staggering rates, while the ability of the individual to handle and study it all remains neglected. If he is ever to cope with the situation he must learn not more 'hard facts', but new ways of handling and studying the information - new ways of using his natural abilities to learn, think, recall, create and find solutions to problems. The mental blocks to effective study The preceding episode is probably familiar and amusing, but the implications of it are significant and serious. On one level the story is encouraging because, by the very fact that it is a problem experienced by everybody, it confirms what has long been suspected: that everyone is creative and inventive, and that the feelings that many have about being uncreative are not necessary. The creativity demonstrated in the example of the reluctant student is not applied very usefully. But the diversity and originality with which we all make up reasons for not doing things suggests that each person has a wealth of talent which could be applied in more positive directions! On another level the story is discouraging because it shows up the widespread and underlying fear that most of us experience when confronted with a study text. This reluctance and fear arises from the examinationbased education system in which the student is presented OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 29 30 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK with textbooks on the subjects he is 'taking'. He knows that textbooks are 'harder' than storybooks and novels; he also knows that they represent a lot of work; and he further knows that he will be tested on his knowledge of the information from the books. So: 1 The fact that the type of book is 'hard' is discouraging in itself. 2 The fact that the book represents work is also discouraging, because the student instinctively knows that he is unable to read, note, and remember properly. 3 The fact that he is going to be tested is often the most serious of the three difficulties. It is well known that this threat can completely disrupt your brain's ability to work in certain situations. The number of cases are legion of people who literally cannot write anything in an exam situation despite the fact that they know their subject thoroughly - as are the number of cases of people who, even though they are able to write some form of answer, have gigantic mental blocks where whole areas of knowledge are completely forgotten during an exam period. In even more extreme cases many people . have been known to spend a whole two-hour period writing frantically, assuming that they were answering the question, when in fact they are repeating over and over again either their own name or one word. Faced with this kind of threat, which for many is truly terrifying, the student has one of two choices: he can either study and face one set of consequences, or not study and face a different set of consequences. If he studies and does badly, then he has proven himself 'incapable', 'unintelligent', 'stupid', a 'dunce', or whatever the negative expression is at the time. • ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Of course this is not really the case, but he has no way of knowing that it is the system which is not testing him properly, and not his own ineptitude causing the 'failure'. If he does not study, the situation is quite different. Confronted with having failed a test or exam, he can immediately say that obviously he failed it because he 'didn't study and wasn't interested in that kind of stuff anyway'. By doing this, the reluctant student solves the problem in a number of ways: o He avoids both the test and the threat to his self-esteem that studying would involve. o o He has a perfect excuse for failing. He gets respect from fellow students because he is daring to attack a situation which is frightening to them as well. It is interesting to note that such a student will often find himself in the position of a leader. It is also interesting to note that even those who do make the decision to study will still reserve a little part of themselves for behaving like the non-studier. The person who gets scores as high as 80 or 90 per cent will also be found using exactly the same excuses for not getting 100 per cent as the non-studier uses for failing. Outdated study techniques The situations described are unsatisfactory for everyone concerned. One further and major reason for poor study results lies in the way we have approached both study techniques and the information we wanted people to study. We have surrounded the person with a confusing mass of different subjects or 'disciplines', demanding that he learn, •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 31 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ...........•...............•..........•............... 32 In traditional education, information is given or 'taught' about the different areas of knowledge that surround the individual. The direction and flow is from the subject to the individual - he is simply given the information, and is expected to absorb, learn and remember as much as he possibly can. remember and understand a frightening array of subjects under headings such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Zoology, Botany, Anatomy, Physiology, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Philosophy, History, Geography, English, Media Studies, Music, Technology and Palaeontology. In each of these subject areas the individual has been and is still presented with series of dates, theories, facts, names, and general ideas . ••• • • • • • • • ••••••• • ••• •• • • • •• • •• • • • • • • • • • • • • •••• ••• • ••• • •• •• • • • • • • • ~ . ~ What this really means is that we have been taking a totally lopsided approach to study and to the way in which a person deals with and relates to the information and knowledge that surrounds him. As can be seen from the illustration, we are concentrating far too much on information about the 'separate' areas of knowledge. We are also laying too much stress on asking the individual to feed back facts in pre-digested order or in pre-set forms such as standard examination papers or formal essays. This approach has also been reflected in the standard study techniques recommended in sixth form colleges, universities, institutes of further education and the text and study books that go with it. These techniques have been 'grid' approaches in which it is recommended that a series of steps always be worked through on any book being studied. One common suggestion is that any reasonably difficult study book should always be read through three times in order to ensure a complete understanding. This is obviously a very simple example, but even the many more developed approaches tend to be comparatively rigid and inflexible - simply standard systems to be repeated on each studying occasion. It is obvious that methods such as these cannot be applied with success to every study book. There is an enormous difference between studying a text on Literary Criticism and studying a text on Higher Mathematics. In order to study properly, a technique is required which does not force the same approach to such different materials. First, it is necessary to start working from the individual outwards. Rather than bombarding him with books, formulas and examinations we must begin to concentrate on teaching each person how he or she can study most efficiently. We must teach ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 33 34 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• In the new forms of education, the previous emphases must be reversed. Instead of teaching the individual facts about other things, we must first teach him facts about himself - facts about how he can learn, think, recall, create, solve problems, and so on. ourselves how our eyes work when we read, how we remember, how we think, how we can learn more effectively, how we can organize noting, how we can solve problems and in general how we can best use our abilities, whatever the subject matter (see illustration on above). Most of the problems outlined here will be eliminated when we finally do change the emphasis away from the subject toward the student and how he can select and understand any •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• information he wants to. Students will be equipped to study and remember whatever area of knowledge is interesting or necessary. Things will not have to be 'crammed in'. Each student will be able to range subjects at his own pace, going for help and personal supervision only when he realizes it is necessary. Yet another advantage of this approach is that it will make both teaching and learning much easier, more enjoyable and more productive. By concentrating on individuals and their abilities, we will finally and sensibly have placed the learning situation in its proper perspective. Onword One is tempted to note here that the modern student has access to instruction manuals and 'How To Do It' books and websites on virtually anything he wishes to study or research. But when it comes to the most complicated, complex, and important organism of all, ourselves, there has been practically no help. We need our own 'operations manual' on how to operate our own 'Super Bio Computer'. The Buzan Study Skills Handbook is that operations manual. OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE STUDY 35 3 BOST@ 38 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The Buzan Organic Study Technique (BOST®), laid out in this chapter, will show you how to develop strong study habits and overcome those study fears, stresses and anxieties. In the following four chapters, we are going to reinforce and multiply the power of the technique by introducing you to ways of increasing your speed while using it. This will improve your memory of what you read, as you read it and after you've read it. The master note-taking technique, the Mind Map® will allow you to have everything you have speed read and everything you have learned and remembered in order, perfectly structured and under control. In the final chapter, we will revisit BOST and supplement it and empower it with each of these major elements. BOST is divided into two main strategies: Preparation and Application. It is important to note at the outset that although the main steps are presented in a certain order, this order is by no means essential and can be changed, subtracted from and added to as the study texts warrant. You will also need to read and revisit the chapters on Speed Reading, Memory and Mind Maps to utilize the BOST programme for maximum effect. BOST®: Preparation This first section contains: o The browse. o Time and amount. o Five minute Mind Map jotter. o Asking questions and defining goals. • • •••• • • • • • • • • • • • •• • • • • • •• • •• • • •• •• ••• • • • • •••• • • • ••• ••• • • • • • •• • • •• , ....•••.................••••......••.....•........................ The browse Before doing anything else, it is essential to 'browse' or look through the entire textbook, journal, lecture notes or periodical you are about to study. The browse should be done in the way you would look through a book you were considering buying in a book shop, or considering taking out from the library. In other words, casually but rather rapidly flipping through the pages, getting the general 'feel' of the book, observing the organization and structure, the level of difficulty, the proportion of diagrams and illustrations to text, and the location of any Results, Summaries and Conclusions. Time and amount These two aspects can be dealt with simultaneously because the theory behind them both is similar. The first thing to do when sitting down to study a textbook is to decide on the periods of time to be devoted to it. Having done this, decide what amount to cover in each time period. The reason for insisting on these two initial steps is not arbitrary, and is supported by the findings of the Gestalt psychologists. (Before reading on, complete the activity on page 40.) The Gestalt psychologists discovered that the human brain has a very strong tendency to complete things - thus most readers will find that they labelled the shapes on page 40 as straight line, cylinder, square, ellipse or oval, zigzag line, circle, triangle, wavy or curved line, rectangle. In fact the 'circle' is not a circle but a 'broken circle'. Many actually see this broken circle as a completed circle. Others see it as a broken circle but assume that the artist intended to complete it. , ...••....................•.................•••........ BOST~ 39 40 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Shape recognition. Enter the name of the shape of each of the items above next to the appropriate number. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• In study, making a decision about Time and Amount gives us a secure anchor, as well as an end point, or goal. This has the advantage of enabling the proper linkages to be made rather than encouraging a wandering off in more disconnected ways. An excellent comparison is that of listening to a good . lecturer. She, attempting to expound a lot of difficult material, will usually explain her starting and ending points and will often indicate the amount of time to be spent on each area of the presentation. The audience will automatically find the lecture easier to follow because they have guidelines within which to work. It is advisable to define physically the amount to be read by placing reasonably large paper markers at the beginning and end of the section chosen. This enables you to refer back and forward to the information in the chosen amount. A further advantage of making these decisions at the outset is that the underlying fear of the unknown is avoided. If a large study book is plunged into with no planning, the number of pages you eventually have to complete will continuously oppress you. Each time you sit down you will be aware that you still have 'a few hundred pages to go' and will be studying with this as a constant and real background threat. If, on the other hand, you have selected a reasonable number of pages for the time you are going to study, you will be reading with the knowledge that the task you have set yourself is easy and can certainly be completed. The difference in attitude and performance will be marked. The five minute Mind Map® jotter Having decided on the amounts to be covered, next jot down as fast as you can everything you know on the subject. No more than five minutes should be devoted to the exercise. BOST~ 41 42 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The purpose of this exercise is: o o o To improve concentration. To eliminate wandering. To establish a good mental 'set'. This last term refers to getting your mind filled with important rather than unimportant information. If you have spent five minutes searching your memory for pertinent information, you will be far more attuned to the text material and far less likely to continue thinking about the strawberries and cream you are going to eat afterwards. From the time limit of five minutes on this exercise it is obvious that your entire knowledge is not required - the fiveminute exercise is intended purely to activate your storage system and to set your mind off in the right direction. One question which will arise is 'what about the difference in my Mind Map if I know almost nothing on the subject or if I know an enormous amount?' If knowledge in the area is great, the five minutes should be spent recalling the major divisions, theories and names connected with the subject. As your mind can flash through information much faster than your hand can write it, all the minor associations will still be 'seen' mentally and the proper mental set and direction will be established. If the knowledge of the subject is almost nothing, the five minutes should be spent recalling those few items which are known, as well as any other information which seems in any way at all to be connected. This will enable you to get as close as you possibly can to the new subject, and will prevent you from feeling totally lost as so many do in this situation. t ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 1 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• So, you gain by gathering together your immediate and current state of knowledge on areas of interest. In this way you will be able to keep much more up to date with yourself and will actually know what you know, rather than being in a continually embarrassing position of not knowing what you know - the 'I've got it on the tip of my tongue' syndrome. Asking questions and defining goals Having established your current state of knowledge on the subject, decide what you want from the book. This involves defining the questions you want answered during the reading, and these questions should refer directly to what you wish to achieve. Many prefer to use a different coloured pen for this section, and add their questions to their jotting of current knowledge. A Mind Map is the best way to do this (see Chapter 6). This exercise, again like that for noting knowledge, is based on the principle of establishing proper mental sets. It shouldn't take much more than five minutes at the outset, as questions can be redefined and added to as the reading progresses. Why knowledge and aims are important A standard experiment to confirm this approach takes two groups of people who are generally equal in terms of age, education and aptitude. Each group is given the same study text and is given enough time to complete the whole book. Group A is told that they are going to be given a completely comprehensive test on everything in the book and that they must study accordingly. Group B is told that they will be tested on two or three major themes which run through the book, and that they also must study accordingly. ••• • •• • • • • •••• • • •• • • • •• • • • • ••• • • • • • • • • • • • •• • • ••• • • • • • • • BOST* 43 44 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK Both groups are in fact tested on the entire text, a situation that one would immediately think unfair to the group that had been told they would be tested only on the main themes. One might also think that in this situation the second group would do better on questions about the themes they had been given, the first group better on other questions and that both groups might have a similar final score. To the surprise of many, the second group not only does better on questions about the themes, but they achieve higher total scores which include better marks on all parts of the test. The reason for this is that the main themes act like great grappling hooks through the information, attaching everything else to them. In other words the main questions and goals act as associative and linking centres to which all other information becomes easily attached. The group instructed to get everything had no centres at all to which they could connect new information, and because of this they groped, with no foundations, through the information. It is much like a situation where a person is given so much choice that he ends up making no decision; the paradox where attempting to get everything gains nothing. Asking questions and establishing goals can be seen, like the section preceding it, to become more and more important as the theory behind becomes better understood. It should be emphasized that the more accurately these questions and goals are established, the better you will perform in the Application section of BOST below. How to Mind Map this application stage is explained in Chapter 6 I ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 4 BOST®: Application This second section deals with Application and contains: o Overview. o Preview. o Inview. o Review. Overview One of the interesting facts about people using study books is that most, when given a new text, start reading on page one. It is not advisable to start reading a new study text on the first page. Here's why. Imagine that you are a fanatical jigsaw-puzzle-doer. A friend arrives on your doorstep with a gigantic box wrapped in paper and tied with string, and tells you that it's a present: 'the most beautiful and complex jigsaw puzzle yet devised by man!' You thank her, and as you watch her walk away down the front path, you decide that from that moment on you are going to devote yourself entirely to the completion of the puzzle. Before continuing, note in precise detail the steps you would take from that point on in order to complete the task. Now check your own answers with the following list compiled from my students: 1 Go back inside the house. 2 3 Take the string off the box. Take off the paper. 4 S Dispose of string and paper. Look at the picture on the outside of the box. 6 Read the instructions, concentrating on the number of pieces and overall dimensions of the puzzle. I •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• BOST"' 45 ...................................................... 46 7 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ' Estimate and organize the amount of time necessary for completion. 8 Plan breaks and meals! 9 Find a surface of appropriate dimensions for the puzzle. 10 Open the box. 11 Empty the contents of the box onto the surface or a separate tray. 12 If pessimistic, check the number of pieces! 13 Turn all the pieces right side up. 14 Find the edge and corner pieces. 15 Sort out colour areas. 16 Fit 'obvious' bits and pieces together. 17 Continue to fill in. 18 Leave 'difficult' pieces until the end (because as the overall picture becomes more clear, and the number of pieces used increases, so does the probability increase that the difficult pieces will fit in more easily when there is greater context into which they can fit). 19 Continue the process until completion. 20 Celebrate! This jigsaw analogy can be applied directly to study: studying on page one would be like finding the bottom left-hand corner, and insisting to yourself that the entire picture be built up step by step from that corner only! What is essential in a reasonable approach to study texts, especially difficult ones, is to get a good idea of what's in them before plodding on into a learning catastrophe. The Overview in BOST is designed to perform this task, and may be likened to looking at the picture, reading the instructions, and finding the edge and corner pieces of the puzzle. What this means in the •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 1 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• study context is that you should scour the book for all material not included in the regular body of the print, using a visual guide such as a pencil as you do so. Areas of the book to be covered in your overview include: Results Tables Subheadings Summaries Table of contents Dates Conclusions Marginal notes Italics Indents Illustrations Graphs Glossaries Capitalized words Footnotes Back cover Photographs Statistics The function of this is to provide you with a good knowledge of the graphic sections of the book, not skimming the whole thing, but selecting specific areas for relatively comprehensive coverage. (Speed reading is a great aid here - see Chapter 4.) amount of mate"alto be studied -I -I sectIons to be covered by prevIew after overVIew Sections of a study text to be covered by Overview. It is extremely important to note again that throughout the overview a pen, pencil, or other form of visual guide, should always be used. The reason for this can best be explained by reference to a graph. If the eye is unaided, it will simply fixate briefly on general areas of the graph, then move off, leaving only a vague visual memory and an interference to that memory because the eye movement will not have 'registered' the same pattern as the graph. •• • • •• • • • • • •• • • • • • • • • •• • • • •• ••• •• •• • • •• • •• • •••• •• • • • •• • BOSP 47 48 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Example pattern of graph to be studied. If a visual aid is used, your eye will more closely approximate the flow of the graph and your memory will be strengthened by each of the following inputs: 1 The visual memory itself. 2 The remembered eye movement approximating the graph shape. 3 The memory of the movement of the arm or hand in tracing the graph (Kinaesthetic memory). 4 The visual memory of the rhythm and movement of the tracer. Standard pattern of unguided eye movement on graph causing conflicting memory of shape of graph. ••• • •• • • •• • • ••••••• • ••••••• ••••• • •• • • • • •• • •• • • • • • •• • •••• •••• •••• •• The overall recall resulting from this practice is far superior to that of a person who reads without any visual guide. It is interesting to note that accountants often use their pens to guide their eyes across and down columns and rows of figures. They do this naturally because any very rigid linear eye movement is difficult to maintain with the unaided eye. Preview To preview something means just that: to pre-view, or to see before. If you allow your brain to see the whole text before speed reading it (by skimming, in association with one of the guided reading techniques) you will be able to navigate your way through it more effectively when you read it the second time. The purpose of previewing material before reading it is the same as the purpose of planning a route before driving from A to B. You need to know the terrain and decide whether to take the long scenic route or if a shortcut will suffice. Previewing should be applied to everything you are studying including communications like exam details and emails. If done effectively it will save you an immense amount of time, and speed up your levels of reading and comprehension. HowtoPre~eweffeoav~y Be aware of what you already know before you begin reading a book or a document and have an idea of what you want to achieve by reading it. Skim read the text first to discover the core elements. If the text is describing something you know already, make a note of the fact for future reference. Take effective notes on everything you read so that you can refer back to them in future and use your previously acquired knowledge to assess the relevance of what you are reading. BOST" 49 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK 50 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• During the preview, concentration should be directed to the beginning and end of paragraphs, sections, chapters, and even whole texts, because information tends to be concentrated at the beginning and end of written material. If you are studying a short academic paper or a complex study book, the Summary, Results and Conclusion sections should always be read first. These sections often include exactly those essences of information for which you are searching, enabling you to grasp that essence without having to wade through a lot of time-wasting material. Having gained the essence from these sections, simply check that they do indeed summarize the main body of the text. In the Preview, as with the Overview, you are not fully reading all the material, but simply concentrating once again on special areas. amount of matenal to be studied - - - -, - - -,. -c -, - -"- - - sections to be covered by preview after overview 7-~ Sections of a study text to be covered by Preview after Overview. Strategies for success The value of this section cannot be overemphasized. A case in point is that of a student taught at Oxford who had spent four months struggling through a SOO-page tome on psychology. By the time he had reached page 4S0 he was beginning to despair because the amount of information he was 'holding on to' as he tried to get to the end was becoming too much - he was literally L beginning to drown in the information just before reaching his goal. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• It transpired that he had been reading straight through the book, and even though he was nearing the end, did not know what the last chapter was about. It was a complete summary of the book! He read the section and estimated that had he done so at the beginning he would have saved himself approximately 70 hours in reading time, 20 hours in note-taking time and a few hundred hours of worrying. So in both the Overview and Preview you should very actively select and reject. Many people still feel obliged to read everything in a book even though they know it is not necessarily relevant to them. It is far better to treat a book in the way most people treat lecturers. In other words, if the lecturer is boring, skip what he says, and if he is giving too many examples, is missing the point or is making errors, select, criticize, correct, and disregard as appropriate. Inview After the Overview and Preview, and providing that still more information is required, Inview the material. This involves 'filling in' those areas still left, and can be compared with the filling in process of the jigsaw puzzle, once the boundaries and colour areas have been established. It is not necessarily the major reading, as in some cases most of the important material will have been covered in the previous stages. --Dr-------iD--D, , , difficult areas or areas where knowledge not complete Sections of a study text to be covered after Inview has been completed. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• BOST~ 51 S2 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK It should be noted from the illustration on page 51 that there are still certain sections that have been left incomplete even at the Inview stage. This is because it is far better to move over particularly difficult points than to batter away at them immediately from one side only. Once again the comparison with the jigsaw puzzle becomes clear: racking your brains to find the pieces that connect to your 'difficult bit' is a tension-producing waste of time, and jamming the piece in, or cutting it with a pair of scissors so that it does fit (assuming or pretending you understand in context when really you don't), is similarly futile. The difficult sections of a study text are seldom essential to that which follows them, and the advantages of leaving them are manifold: 1 If they are not immediately struggled with, your brain is given that most important brief period in which it can work on them subconsciously. (Most readers will have experienced the examination question which they 'can't possibly answer' only to find on returning to the question later that the answer pops out and often seems ridiculously simple.) 2 If the difficult areas are returned to later, they can be approached from both sides. Apart from its obvious advantages, considering the difficult area in context (as with the difficult bit in the jigsaw) also enables your brain's automatic tendency to fill in gaps to work to greater advantage. _ _ _ _ ..L-~~ ~ - 'Jumping over' a stumbling block usually enables the reader to go back to it later on with more information from 'the other side'. The block itself is seldom essential for the understanding of that which follows it. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 3 Moving on from a difficult area releases the tension and mental floundering that often accompanies the traditional approach. Looking at the normal historical development of any discipline, it is found that a fairly regular series of small and logically connected steps are interrupted by great leaps forward. The propounders of these giant new steps have in many cases 'intuited' them (combining left and right cortex functions), and afterwards been met with scorn. Galileo and Einstein are examples. As they then explained their ideas step by step, others gradually and progressively understood, some early in the explanation, and others as the innovator neared his conclusion. In the same manner in which the innovator jumps over an enormous number of sequential steps, and in the same manner in which those who first realized his conclusions did so, the studier who leaves out small sections of study will be giving a greater range to his natural creative and understanding abilities. , new creative Innovation of discoverer ./ creative leap ./ ./ 10gl,"'" stand:;d:;;o-;::e:- --I, /// / "\ steps the innovator has to 'fill in' I.,,,, h. .iog m.d, hi, di""", the present Historical development of ideas and creative innovations. • • • ••• • ••• • • • • •• • • • •• •• • • • • • • • • ••• • • • •• • • • • •• • • • • • •• • • • BOST~ 53 ' S4 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Review Having completed the Overview, Preview and Inview, and if further information is still required to complete goals, answer questions or solve problem areas, a Review stage is necessary. In this stage simply fill in all those areas as yet incomplete, and reconsider those sections you marked as noteworthy. In most cases you will find that not much more than 70 per cent of that initially considered relevant will finally be used. A note on note-taking Noting while studying should take two main forms: 1 Notes made on the text itself. 2 A growing Mind Map - see Chapter 6. Notes you make in the textbook itself can include: 1 Underlining. 2 Personal thoughts generated by the text. 3 4 5 Critical comments. Marginal straight lines for important or noteworthy material. Curved or wavy marginal lines to indicate unclear or difficult material. 6 Question marks for areas that you wish to research further or that you find questionable. 7 Exclamation marks for outstanding items. 8 Your own symbol code for items and areas that relate to your own specific and general objectives. Straight line mark for important or noteworthy material. Curved line mark for difficult or unclear material. •.•••.........•••.........................•...•.........•....•.•.. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• If the textbook is not valuable, markings can be made in colour codes. If the book is a cherished volume, then markings can be made with a very soft pencil. If the pencil is soft enough, and if a very soft eraser is used, the damage to the book will be l~ss than that caused by the finger and thumb as they turn a page. How to Mind Map this application stage is explained in Chapter 6 Note-taking with Mind Maps® You will find Mind Mapping the structure of the text as you progress through it a highly accessible study tool and very similar to building up the picture of the jigsaw puzzle as you fit in bit by bit. (To learn how to develop and draw your own Mind Maps for different aspects of study, see Chapters 6 and 7.) The advantage of building up a Mind Map as you progress through the study text is that you externalize and integrate a lot of information that would otherwise be 'up in the air'. The growing Mind Map also allows you to refer back quickly to areas you have previously covered, rather than having to thumb through pages already read. It will enable you, after a reasonable amount of basic study, to see just where the areas of confusion in your subject are, and to see also where your subject connects with other subjects. As such it will place you in the creative situation of being able to: o o o Integrate the known. Realize the relevance to other areas. Make appropriate comment where confusion and debate still exist. •••• • • •• • •• ••• • •••• • • • •• • • • •••• •• • ••• ••• • •••• • • • • • •• • •• BaST"' 55 56 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The final stage of your study will include the completion and integration of any notes from your text with the Mind Map, which will act as your basis for ongoing study and review. When you have completed this final stage, you should, as did our imaginary jigsaw puzzle fanatic, celebrate! This may sound humorous, but it is also serious: if you associate the completion of study tasks with personal celebration, the context of your study will become increasingly more pleasant, and thus the probability of your studying far greater. Once your study programme is well under way, it is advisable to keep enormous 'Master' Mind Maps which summarize and overview the main branches and structures of your subject areas. See Chapter 6 Mind Maps@ for Mind Map@ notes Continuing review Apart from the immediate review, a continuing review programme is essential, and should be constructed in the light of the knowledge you will find concerning memory (see Chapter 5 on Memory). We know that memory does not decline immediately after you have learned something, but actually rises before levelling off and then plummeting. This graph can be warped to your advantage by reviewing just at that point where your memory starts to fall. A review here, at the point of highest memory and integration, will keep the high point up for another one or two days . • • • • • • ••••••• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• • • • • • • ••••••• • • • • • •• • •• ••• • •••• • •• • •• 5th review This graph shows how quickly forgetting takes place after something has been learned. It also shows how review can 'warp' this graph to enormous advantage. 6 months CREATIVE THINKING 1st review 2nd review 3rd review 4th review 10 minutes 24 hours 1 week 1 month 100% 75% C- o " (b 3 <Q 50% :3 <Il :3 D ~ 25% 0% ~ ~ area of maintained knowledge after 10 minutes area of maintained knowledge after 24 hours m m area of maintained knowledge after 1 week area of maintained knowledge after 1 month • area of maintained knowledge without any review S8 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK Summary: BOST® e The entire BaST (Buzan Organic Study Technique) programme must be seen not as a step-by-step progression, but as a series of inter-related aspects of approaching study material. The following three skills-related chapters will impact directly on BaST. e It is quite possible to switch and change the order from the one given here. e The amount to be covered may be decided upon before the period of time; the subject matter may be known before the time and amount are decided upon and consequently the knowledge Mind Map could be completed first; the questions can be asked at the preparation stage or after anyone of the latter stages; the overview can be eliminated in books where it is inappropriate, or repeated a number of times if the subjects are mathematics or physics. (One student found that it was easier to read four chapters of post-degree mathematics 25 times per week for four weeks quickly, using the survey technique, than to struggle through one formula at a time. He was of course applying to its extreme, but very effectively, the point made about skipping over difficult areas.) Preview can be eliminated or broken down into separate sections; and the Inview and Review can be variously extended or eliminated. In other words each subject, and each book of each subject, can be confidently approached in the manner best suited to it. To each textbook you will bring the knowledge that, whatever the difficulties, you possess the fundamental understanding to choose the appropriate and necessarily unique approach. .................................................................. Your study is consequently made a personal, interactive, continually changing and stimulating experience, rather than a rigid, impersonal and tiresomely onerous task. It should also be noted that although it seems as if the bO,ok is being read more times, this is not the case. By using BOST you will be on average reading most sections once only and will then be effectively reviewing those sections considered important. A pictorial representation can be seen below. /- ===1 'Number of times' book is covered using BOST. By contrast, the 'once through' reader is not reading it once through but is reading it an enormous number of times. He thinks he is reading it through once only because he takes in once piece of information after another. He does not realize that his regressions, back-skipping, re-reading of difficult sentences, general disorganization and forgetting because of inadequate review, result in an actual reading of the book or chapter as many as ten times. 'Number of times' book is covered using traditional 'once through' reading techniques. • • • • • •• • ••••• • • • • • •• • • • • • •• • • •••••• • • • • ••• • ••• ••• • ••• • BaST'" 59 ' 60 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Onword The Buzan Organic Study Technique will allow you easy and effective access to the world of knowledge in a manner that will encourage your brain to learn more and more easily as it learns more, and will turn you from a reluctant learner into one who will avidly devour books by the hundred! The following chapters show you how to incorporate Speed Reading, Memory and Mind Maps into BOST. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• , SPEED READING THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK 64 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The skill of speed reading - which is a complete process of knowledge assimilation - will revolutionize your ability to prioritize and retain essential study facts and figures. Speed reading will improve your study capabilities. Learning how to do it successfully will: o o Increase your reading speeds dramatically. Improve your levels of concentration and comprehension. o Increase your understanding of how your eyes and brain work. o Improve your vocabulary and general knowledge. o Save you time and build your confidence. The problems to overcome are: o o Deciding what to read: the art of selection. Understanding what you read: effective note taking and comprehension. o Retaining information: how to remember what you want to know. o Recalling information: having the ability to recall, on demand, the facts you want and having them at your fingertips. The study techniques that you will learn in this chapter include: Self-assessment: how fast do you read? o o Guided reading techniques that will help you to take in more information more quickly from the written page. o o Tips on how to turn reading problems to your advantage. Guidance on how to: o o Concentrate better. Understand more. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• l •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• o Scan and skim information to get to the crux of the matter. o Create your environment to work with you. Once you have learned the basics, we will up the pace with a section that includes guidance on how to increase your vocabulary to include new prefixes, suffices and word roots. This has the potential to increase your vocabulary from 1000 words to 10,000 words with very little effort. There are many advantages for your brain in learning to speed read: Your eyes will work less hard physically, because you will not o need to pause as often to absorb the information you are reading. o The rhythm and flow of the speed reading process will allow you to absorb the meaning of what you are reading with greater ease. (A slower reading pace encourages more scope for pauses, boredom and loss of concentration, which inhibit comprehension and slow down understanding.) Self-test your reading speed Why not test your current reading speed right now, before you start following my techniques? It may be helpful at this point to select a book that you will use specifically for assessing your speed reading progress. In that way, as you move through this chapter, you will get a true picture of the progress you are making, day by day and week by week. To calculate your speed in words per minute, take the following steps: 1 Read for one minute - note your starting and stopping points within the text. •• • •• • • • • • •• • • •• • • •• •• • • •• •• • • •• • • • • •••• • • • ••••• • ••• • • SPEED READING 6S 66 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 4 2 Count the number of words on three lines. 3 Divide that number by three to give you the average number of words per line. 4 Count the number of lines read (balancing short lines out). 5 Multiply the average number of words per line by the number of lines you read and divide the total by the number of minutes spent reading; this will give you your reading speed in words per minute (wpm). Expressed as an equation, the formula for working out speed in wpm is: wpm (speed) = number of pages read x number of words per average page number of minutes spent reading If you work with your brain in the ways described, you can't help but learn to speed read, which, as a result, will add immense value to your experience of learning and understanding. How you read Have you ever stopped to think about how you read and assimilate information? Before starting to learn speed reading techniques that will allow you to read as many as 1000 words pe·r minute, take a moment to review the following statements. o o o Words are read one at a time. Reading faster than 500 words per minute is impossible. If you read fast you are not able to appreciate what you are reading. • • ••••• • •••• •• ••• ••••••••••••••••• •• ••••• • • • ••• • • •••••••••• •• • •• • • o High reading speeds mean lower levels of concentration. o Average reading speeds are natural, and therefore the best way to learn. To which of the following statements would you reply 'True' and to which 'False'? o Words are read one at a time. False - We read for meaning, not for single words. o Reading faster than 500 words per minute is impossible. False - We have the capacity to take in as many as six words at a time and as many as twenty-four words a second. o If you read fast you are not able to appreciate what you are reading. False - The faster reader will understand more of what is being expressed, will experience greater levels of concentration and will have time to review areas of special interest and relevance. o High reading speeds mean lower levels of concentration. False - The faster we read, the more impetus we gather and the more we concentrate. o Average reading speeds are natural, and therefore the best way to learn. False - Average reading speeds are not natural; they are simply the result of the limitations of the way we were taught to read. Changing a personal belief about what is possible will help you to understand the process of speed reading; it will also encourage your success because your mind will not be hindering your progress with the weight of false assumptions. SPEED READING 67 68 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• l Guided eye movements If I were to sit with you as you read this study guide and ask you to show me with your forefinger how you believe your eyes move across the page, what do you think the speed and path of that movement would look like? The majority of people would trace each line of text in straight lines from left to right, as they move gradually down the page. However, they would be incorrect. Stop-start sweeps The average reader takes in approximately 200-240 words per minute. Taking in text line by line is an effective way to absorb information, but it is not the fastest. There are many different pathways by which our eyes can travel across a page and still successfully absorb information. When we read, our eyes actually make small and regular 'jumps', pausing or 'fixating' in order to take in information (see illustration on page 70). Your eyes therefore do not move smoothly in one continuous sweep across the page; they stop and start in order to take in information. It is possible to make an immediate improvement in your reading speed by spending less time on each pause, and but using a guide such as a pencil. Interestingly, the eyes can see things clearly only when they can 'hold them still': If an object is still, your eyes must be still in order to see it. If an object is moving, your eyes must move with the object in order to see it. o o Test this for yourself by holding a finger in front of your eyes. When it is still, your eyes are still; when it moves, your eyes follow it in order to see it. In relation to reading, this means that your eyes have to pause to take in the words, because the •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• • ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• . words are static. This is a critical speed reading concept. When your eyes pause, they can take in up to five or six words at a time. They can easily fixate after the beginning and before the end of the line, thus taking in the information 'to the side'. . If you use a visual aid, it minimizes the amount of work that your eyes have to do, keeps your brain focused and maintains constant reading speeds, combined with high levels of understanding. Take a look at the diagrams on the next page. Figure (B) shows what happens in the eye movements of a poor reader. This reader pauses or fixates on words for twice as long as most people. Extra pauses are caused because the reader often re-reads words, sometimes skipping back in as many as three places to make sure that the correct meaning has been taken in. Research has shown that, in 80 per cent of cases when readers were not allowed to skip back or regress, they had taken in all the necessary information. Figure (C) shows that the good reader, while not backskipping or regressing, also has longer jumps between groups of words. On a normal page of 12 words per line, the weaker reader will fixate on single words, back-skip and regress while reading, pausing approximately 14 times, for an average of half a second per pause. That's a time of seven seconds per line. A speed reader, on the other hand, with minor adjustments and no interruptions, would take no more than two seconds per line. The techniques that follow are designed to overcome the common problems of back-skipping, visual wandering and regression that impede progress and will instead lead you towards taking in more and more words each time your eyes fixate on the page, as in Figure (C) . ...... ...... ......... ............. ....... .... ....... .. SPEED READING 69 70 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK , -_ _- , _ fixations (2 .1j sec) eye movement .. _ ..... , ~I words .. Figure A: Diagram representing the stop-and-start movement or 'jumps' of the eyes during the reading process. visual wandering eye movement ~ _ ..... - - -.......---_~-""'-3 __-_"'~- . . . . words. Figure B: Diagram showing poor reading habits of a slow reader: one word read at a time, with unconscious back-skipping, visual wanderings and conscious regressions. fixation eye movement words fixation fixation fixation ~ ~ __ __ - --""'- ~ _ .-....- __ number of words in each fixation Figure C: Diagram showing eye movements of a better and more efficient reader. More words are taken in at each fixation, and back-skipping, regression and visual wandering are reduced. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Seven steps to speed up your reading Reading is usually described as 'getting from a book what the author intended' or, 'assimilating the facts, figures and theories'; but I believe it to be more than that: reading is the individual's total interrelationship with symbolic information. At its core is a process taking place on many different levels at the same time - and it is usually related to the visual aspect of learning, that is, what we can see. For reading to be informative and for reading methods to be effective, the following seven levels of understanding need to be absorbed. Every level must be further developed if you are to become an effective speed reader. 1 Recognition. 2 Assimilation. 3 4 5 Comprehension. Knowledge. Retention. 6 7 Recall. Communication. Recognition Your knowledge of the alphabetic symbols. This step takes place before the physical aspect of reading begins. Assimilation The physical process by which light is reflected from the word and is received by the eye. It is then transmitted via the optic nerve to your brain. •• ••• • • •• • • • • •• • • •• • • • • •• • • • • ••• • • • • • • • • • •• •• • •• ••• • • • SPEED READING 71 72 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• t Comprehension The linking together of all parts of the information being read with all other appropriate information. This includes words, figures, concepts, facts and pictures. (I call this 'intraintegration'.) Knowledge The process by which you bring the whole body of your previous knowledge to the new information that you are reading, whilst making the appropriate connections. This includes analysis, criticism, appreciation, selection and rejection of information. (I call this 'extra-integration'.) Retention The basic storage of information. Storage can itself become a problem; most students will have experienced the anxiety of being in an examination and having trouble retrieving some of that essential information successfully. Storage on its own is not enough - it must be accompanied by 'recall'. Recall Critically, the ability to retrieve from storage the information that is needed, ideally when it is needed. Communication The use to which the acquired information is immediately or 'eventually put: in your case essays, written and oral examinations and creative manifestations. Most significantly, communication also includes that all-important function; thinking. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• l •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Now that you have understood the full definition of reading and its application to speeding up your reading, we can move on to dealing with some major reading problems. Beat reading 'problems' 'Once a problem is faced, analyzed and understood it becomes a positive energy centre for the creation ofsolutions.' Many of us hold false beliefs about reading and our ability to read. Take a moment to think about what you consider to be your problems with reading - the most commonly experienced being: Comprehension Time Vision Speed Amount Noting Retention Fear Recall Fatigue Boredom Analysis Organization Vocabulary Selection Rejection Concentration These traits are not the result of lack of ability, but of negative self-belief, inappropriate teaching methods, or a lack of understanding about how your eyes and brain work together to assimilate information. Four common reading 'problems' that with a change of perspective are positively beneficial to learning speed reading are: sub-vocalization finger-pointing regression back-skipping .•.....•••..•.•...••.. . ~ SPEED READING 73 74 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Sub-vocalization The tendency to 'mouth' words as you are reading is known as sub-vocalization. It is a natural stage in learning to read. It could be a barrier to learning to speed read for some people if they were dependent upon it for understanding, because it may slow down the rate at which words are read. However, as it is quite possible for your brain to sub-vocalize 2000 words per minute, the problem vanishes! The advantage of sub-vocalization is that it can reinforce what is being read. You can choose to use your inner voice selectively - to emphasize important words or concepts - by increasing the volume on demand and literally shouting them out internally. The technique then becomes a positive memory aid. Sub-vocalization can be of positive benefit to dyslexic readers, because internalizing the sound of the words as they are read will provide a reminder of the shape of the individual letters and will appeal to both the right and left sides of the brain. Finger-pointing Most people find that they are more comfortable having a guide to follow, which makes their eyes far more relaxed and efficient. This is because the eyes are designed to follow movement. Far from being a disadvantage, finger-pointing can actually help in learning to speed read. I would simply recommend that you may prefer to use a slimmer, purpose-designed reading aid, since fingers can be large and bulky and may obscure some words. Regression and back-skipping Regression is the conscious process of returning to words, phrases or paragraphs that you feel you must have missed or misunderstood. •• • • • • ••••••••••• ••••••• • • • • • • • • • •• ••• • • • •••••••••••• •• •• ••• • ••• •• Back-skipping is a similar but unconscious process of re-reading material that has just been read. Although regression and back-skipping are slightly different traits, they both are related to a lack of confidence and a tendency to stay in a reading 'comfort zone'. They are habits that can be altered. Re-reading material has been shown to make no difference to levels of understanding, so all you are doing is putting added pressure on your eyes. The simplest way to force yourself to break these habits is to increase your reading speed, and to maintain a rhythm as you read. Your amazing eyes Each of your eyes is an amazing optical instrument, far superior in its precision and complexity to the most advanced telescope or microscope. We have known for some time that our pupils adjust their size according to the intensity of light and the nearness of the object viewed. The brighter the light and the nearer the object, the smaller the size of the pupil (of the eye, that is!). We also know that pupil size adjusts in tune with emotion, so if, for example, you are gazing at someone you are attracted to, your pupil size will increase automatically. This means that the more you can generate and maintain interest in your subject, the easier it will be for you to absorb the information you are needing. How do your eyes 'read' information? The retina at the back of the eye is a light receiver. When your eye takes in a range of complex images, the retinal light receivers SPEED READING 7S 76 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK decode the images and send them along the optic nerve to the visual area of your brain, known as the occipital lobe. The occipital lobe is located not behind the eyes, but at the back of your head; so the popular phrase is correct; we really do have eyes 'in the back of the head'. Your occipital lobe directs your eyes around the page to hunt for information that is of interest. This knowledge forms the basis of the revolutionary approach to speed reading that is explained here. Exercises to increase your 'mind's eye' The next series of exercises is designed to expand your visual power so that you are able to take in more words 'at a glance' when you look at a page. Measuring your horizontal and vertical vision Read through these instructions once first before trying the technique or, alternatively, ask a fellow student to read the passage to you while you follow the directions: Look straight ahead and focus your attention on a point on the horizon as far away as possible, then: Touch the tips of your two forefingers together so they form a horizontal line, then hold them approximately 10 em (4 inches) in front of your nose. While keeping your eyes fixed on your chosen point in the distance, begin to wiggle the tips of your fingers and move them apart slowly, along a straight, horizontal line. (You will need to move your arms and elbows apart as well, but keep the movement horizontal.) Keep going until your fingers move just outside your field of o o o •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• vision and you can no longer see the movement of your fingers out of the corner of your eyes. Stop and ask your friend to measure how far apart your o fingers are. Now repeat the exercise, but with one forefinger pointing upwards and the other downwards, so that the fingertips meet in a vertical line this time. Again, hold them together, approximately 10 cm (4 in) in front of your nose. o While keeping your eyes fixed firmly on your chosen point in the distance, begin to wiggle your fingers and move them apart - one upwards, one downwards - in a vertical line so that they gradually move out of the top and bottom of your field of vision. o Stop and measure how far apart your fingers are. Does it surprise you to find out just how much and how far you can see when you are apparently focused solely on something else? How is this possible? The answer lies in the unique design of the human eye. Each of your eyes has 130 million light receivers in its retina, which ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• SPEED READING 77 78 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• means that you have 260 million receivers of light in total. Your central focus (that part which you use to read your book, or focus on the point in the distance) takes up only 20 per cent of this light-receiving capacity. The rest - that is 80 per cent of the total light receivers - are devoted to your peripheral vision. By learning to make greater use of your peripheral vision while you are reading, you will begin to utilize the vast untapped potential of your peripheral vision: your mind's eye. What do I mean by the 'mind's eye'? I mean the ability to read or see with your entire brain, not just with your eyes. It is a concept that is recognized by those who practise yoga, meditation or prayer and by anyone familiar with learning to 'see' Magic Eye™ three-dimensional pictures. Fields of vision. The inner circled area shows the area of clear vision available to the speed reader when the eye/brain system is used properly. The outer circle shows the peripheral vision also available. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• See with your mind's eye When you have read through the guidelines of the following exercise, turn to page 83 and place your finger directly underneath the word 'Daydreaming' in the middle of the page. Keeping your eyes totally focused on that central word, and without moving them: o See how many words you can observe to either side of the central word. o See how many words you can make out clearly above and below the word at which you are pointing. o See if you can tell whether there is a number at the top or the bottom of the page and, if so, what that number is. o See whether you can count the number of images on the opposite page. o See whether you can count the number of paragraphs on the opposite page. o Can you determine clearly or roughly what the image on the opposite page is illustrating? Most people answer 'yes' to the majority of these questions, which shows that most people have the innate capacity to read using their peripheral vision as well as their central vision. By this means, you use all 260 million of your eye's light receivers to communicate with and illuminate your brain. This revolutionary new approach means that, from now on, you will read with your brain and not just with your eyes. The image opposite shows clearly the two levels of vision that are available. The inner circle of vision is the one with which we are all familiar; the outer circle shows the field of peripheral vision that is available to us, if we choose to use it. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• SPEED READING 79 80 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Reading bites o If you are able to combine peripheral vision with central focus you will be able to see and absorb information from entire paragraphs and pages at the same time. o You can expand your peripheral vision by holding your textbook further away from your eyes than usual. It will enable your peripheral vision to work better. o While your central focus is taking in the detail line by line, your peripheral vision is able to review what has been read and assess the value of what is to come. o 'This practice is also easier on the eyes, as they do not need to over-work their muscles. Remember: it is your brain that reads - your eyes are just the very sophisticated lenses that it uses to do so. Three key guided reading techniques Open this book (or any book) at any page, and look at it for one second only. Do you think you could recognize the same page again? 'The answer is 'yes'. If you doubt the truth of this, think of how much information your eyes can take in and your brain can remember in a fraction of a second when on the road, at a railway station, or anywhere where you are seeing a multitude of different images and influences at the same time. 'Think how few.images are on a page of text in comparison. 'The three key reading techniques that follow are designed to super-power your vision. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• First practise each technique at a very high reading speed - without pausing or worrying about whether or not you understand what you are reading. Then practise each technique at normal speed. In this way your brain will gradually become accustomed to your faster reading speeds. (You may find it useful to begin by re-reading familiar material, so you have the benefit of reviewing something that you already know, while 'warming up' your brain for the tasks ahead.) 1 The double-line sweep involves your eyes taking in two lines of text at a time. It is a technique that combines both vertical and horizontal vision (and a skill applied by those studying music). ;.:.:.;.:.:.;.:.;.;.;.::.:.;.;.;.:.;.:.:..;.;.;.;.:.:.:.;.:.; :.;.:.: .......•.................:.:: :.;.:.:.;.:::;:::;:;::::::::.:::;:;:::;:;:;::;::::::.;.;. ..•.•..•..•.•.......- ::::.•....•.-:.;.;.;.:::;:;:;::=.;.;.:.•.•. :.;.:.;.;;.;.:.:<.;.:.;.;.;.;•.:.:.;;.;.:.;.:.;.;.:.;•......•...•••.•.•••..••....;.:.:.;.; •.................::::...•.....-.....•;.;.::::::;:;:;::;:;;;:;:;::::::;:;::::;:;:::;:;:;:::;:;:;:; ............•.............•............: . ...... ,.,. .,.,.,.,.,.,.".,.".,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,., ..••.. '··'··'···.'.""·.·.·.'..\/"'",t.,·.··'.. . ···.,.,.····.....i: ~,. 2 The variable sweep takes the same approach as the double-line sweep, but allows you to take in the number of lines that you can cope with at one time. SPEED READING 81 82 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK 3 The reverse sweep is identical to the previous two but with one significant difference: you are altering the process to review each section of text in reverse. This may sound absurd, but it makes sense if you recall that the eye can take in information only by fixing attention, and that words are viewed in groups of five or six. In reading backwards you are simply 'holding' all the information you have in your mind, until you receive the final piece of the jigsaw at the start of each line. This has the benefit of enabling you to review the text at the same time as reading it - which will speed up your reading and improve your levels of concentration and comprehension. Each of these 'sweep' techniques can be used for o Previewing. o Scanning. o Skimming. for information, and you can take in as many lines as you choose. You can shorten (by taking in fewer lines) or lengthen (by taking in more lines) your sweeps, or combine more than one technique. This applies specifically to the Preparation and Overview sections in BOST. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Supercharge your speed reading Now it's time to explore and improve your: 1 Powers of concentration. 2 3 Ability to scan and skim data. Environmental influences on studying. Improving concentration In my experience of teaching and lecturing around the world, I have found that the vast majority of people believe that they suffer from regular periods of poor concentration. Many people say that they find themselves daydreaming instead of applying themselves to the task in hand. In fact, this is good news and is perfectly natural. Daydreaming occurs naturally every few minutes and it is your brain's way of taking a break in order to absorb what it has learnt. If you think about it, you have not actually lost concentration, you have just chosen to concentrate on a series of other points of interest instead: the cat on the chair; the mobile ring tones; a sample of music on the radio; or someone walking along the street - to name but a few distractions. The problem is not your powers of concentration, it is the direction and focus of that concentration. When you master the art of concentration, your entire eyebrain system becomes laser-like, with an extraordinary ability to focus and absorb information. • • • ••• • •• • • • • ••• • • •• •• • • • • • • • • ••• • • • • •• • • • •• • • • • • • •• • • • SPEED READING 83 84 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK Causes of poor concentration 1 Vocabulary difficulties Efficient and concentrated speed reading relies upon a smooth flow of information with few interruptions in understanding. Pauses to look up words or to ponder will break your concentration and slow your understanding of the whole. If you come across a word that you don't understand when reading, rather than looking it up straight away, underline it and review it afterwards. 2 Conceptual difficulties If you don't really understand the concepts you are reading about you will have difficulty concentrating. To get past this obstacle, choose one of the guiding techniques outlined on page 80 and use skimming and scanning as ways of multiplereading the material until it becomes familiar to you. 3 Inappropriate reading speed Many people believe (because that is what they were taught) that reading things slowly and carefully will help understanding and comprehension. This approach is actually counter-productive and, far from aiding your brain, reading slowly will actually slow it down. To check this out, try reading the following statement exactly as it is laid out. Read it 'slowly and carefully': Speed read ing has be en found to be bet ter for understand ing than slow read ing. You probably found that hard work because your brain is not designed to take in information at such a slow pace. If you skim •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• read it fast, the words will make instant sense. Now read the following sentence, this time reading the words as they are grouped: It has been discovered that the human brain with the help of its eyes takes in information far more easily when the information is conveniently grouped in meaningful bundles. An increase in the speed of reading leads to an automatic increase in comprehension. If you apply the speed reading techniques outlined in this book, your brain will develop the capacity to organize words into meaningful groups as you read. Reading slowly and carefully encourages your brain to read more and more slowly, with less and less comprehension. 4 Distraction Another common enemy of concentration is allowing your mind to remain focused on something else, instead of the task in hand. For example, you may need to finish reading a primary reference for a tutorial tomorrow morning, but your mind keeps wandering to your mates, to the disagreement you had with your partner, to money worries, to the gig you are all going to tomorrow. If you find yourself getting easily distracted, you will need to 'shake off' the threads of thought that are diverting you by refocusing on what you are trying to achieve. You may even I •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• SPEED READ1NG 85 86 THE BUZAN STUDY SKILLS HANDBOOK •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• want to stop for a moment to Mind Map your current aims to help you gather your thoughts. 5 Poor organization Sitting down to read something can sometimes feel like a personal battle. Having begun to read, the distractions begin: you have no pencil, cup of coffee, notepaper or spectacles... Constant distractions make it harder to build the impetus to begin again. The answer is simple: plan ahead so that you have everything you need close to hand, set yourself achievement targets and plan your breaks to coincide with completion of those tasks. 6 Lack of interest An apparent lack of interest is often linked to other difficulties. For example: confusing material, lack of specialist vocabulary, conflicting priorities, negative attitude and other obstacles to concentration that are listed above. It is worth trying to solve these related issues first and then, if necessary, apply the 'harsh critic' approach. Get annoyed with the material you are trying to read. In that way you will be drawn in, in the way you would to a debate with someone whose opinions you oppose. 7 Lack of motivation Lack of motivation relates to a lack of goal. If you don't know why you are reading a study text it can be hard to motivate yourself to be interested in reading it. Review your goals. It's an obvious thing to say, but once you become clear about why you need to absorb the information you will be better able to complete the task. Use organization t ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• and personal interest to realign yourself with your target, and use your preferred guided reading technique to ensure that you complete the task as quickly as possible - and with optimum return. Use scanning and skimming Scanning and skimming are designed to combine your recently acquired skill of guided reading with special emphasis on the way your brain can pre-select information automatically (your mental set). Scanning is a natural skill. You use it when you are scanning a crowd for a face that you know, or when you are scanning a road sign for relevant directions. You use