Notes on how to approach a study text








General skim review of the study material to get an overview

Look at the Contents, Index diagrams headings etc. Get a feel for the study text.


Estimate Time and Amount

Estimate the time you will devote to the next study period and the amount of material that you expect to cover in that period.

Cuts your study down in to manageable chunks.  Guards against the feeling that you are in a sea of unlearned material.


Assess Current Knowledge

Layout your starting knowledge position. How much do you already know about this subject. You usually know more than you think.

Use a Mind Map and only take between 2 and 5 minutes.


Specify your Goals and Questions to be answered

Layout your goals and what questions you want answered from the study period

Use a Mind Map and just take a couple of minutes. It can be the same Mind Map as above. If it is, use a different colour for the new notations.



Get a good idea of what the material is comprised of. What is where. Your mind will assimilate more later if you create a Knowledge Map of the new intellectual territory

Follows on from Browsing but a bit more detailed. Use Chapter headings, Summaries, tables diagrams etc.



Read the Conclusions and Summaries First. Update the Mind Map

This gives some structure to the new section.



Read the material. Not necessarily all of it or sequentially. Try to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Remember: If you have really followed the preceding steps, then you already know the most important parts of the material

Make notes using the Mind Map approach. Think of and use evocative key words. Make specific notes on the text book


Review and mentally summarise your findings. Modify the Mind Map if necessary

End of the initial study session. Do it immediately and update your Mind Map



Review the material from the Mind Map after 15 minutes

15 minutes



Review the material from the Mind Map after 24 hours

24 hours



Review the material from the Mind Maps and a quick overview of the material after 7 days

7 days



Review the material from the Mind Maps after 1 month

1 month



Review the material from the Mind Maps after 6 months

6 months


Mind Maps

Keep them safe and easily accessible

Use for reviews and any necessary swotting.


Overview Mind Maps

Create super Large Mind Maps to summarise and coordinate

When covering a lot of related material over many study sessions


Mark Text

Mark the text in the instructional material with you own comments and Notes.

Knowledge is more important than the medium on which it is carried. Only do this if it is your book


Mind Maps and Notes symbols

Create your own graphic symbols to indicate certain ideas in your Notes and Mind Maps




Use Mnemonics and other memory tricks

Where appropriate.


New Experience

If you follow this approach then it will almost seem too easy to assimilate the material.

Remember: You mind needs a filing structure if it is to store the new information. The Preparation phase is intended to provide your mind with an outline map of the new knowledge. You need that structure in order to position the main points of the new area. The rest of the activities (which people think of as learning) should be used to merely to fill in the gaps.

Swotting is not hard if you use the tools that god (?) gave you.


The preparation phase is the real learning period.


John Hulbert 1976, Revised 1988 and 2000.