Many CII examination candidates when they get the text book arm themselves with a pen or highlighter open the book at Page 1 and start reading and highlighting or underlining the text.

It’s probably something we have been taught to do at school but does it work?

Well academic research tends to suggest that underlining is not a particularly effective studying strategy (see the work of Richard E, Mayer) this may be because we end up highlighting too much of the text or it may be because what of what is known as cognitive overload (our working memories can only do so much at once and if we are more focused on the activity of underlining than understanding what we are actually reading we don’t remember what we have read).

Starting a CII text book at Page 1 is rarely a good strategy: 

  • as they are not novels
  • some chapters are often more important than others
  • our brains work much more successfully when we pose it questions

We need to use the structure of the book (e.g. look at the chapter summaries before you read the chapter to help you prioritise) and then attempt answer the questions at the end of the chapters. This helps you to psychologically process the information which is much more effective strategy and helps you recall the key concepts more readily than simply underlining the text.

Posted by Neil Park January 03, 2016