While I am reading for educational purposes, I am always taking notes. I have learned that writing the important information down in my notebook is the best way I am able to learn and remember the information. I always begin by writing the title of the passage. Usually at the beginning of any section or chapter there are "Big Ideas" or "Main Points" that are bulleted, or sometimes there are suggested questions to think about while reading the following text. Both of these things I write down in my notebook. This way, when I am reading the text, I will remember when I main point or a particular question come up and I will know to take notes on this. I also always copy any vocabulary words into my notebook. This is useful because it not only helps me to remember the vocabulary word and its meaning, but it also makes it easier to go back and find the important words when I am studying the material later. As I am reading, I usually write down one or two concepts that are under each bold heading as well as information shown on graphs. Sometimes I will copy the actual graph in my notebook, but if it is very detailed, I will just write down the information shown and the topic of the graph and will write the page number down so that if I would like to go back and reference the actual graph while I am studying, I will easily be able to do so. I usually end my notes with any questions or summary points that are highlighted in the book. After I write down these questions, I go back through the text and find the answers.
I am not a very fast reader because of all the notes I take and simply because I spend a great deal of time re-reading paragraphs I have already read. I frequently find myself just going over the words and not actually comprehending the information I am reading. I try to avoid this problem by focusing on the internal conversation I have with myself while I am reading. If I find that I am no longer saying the words to myself and making sense of them, I realize that I must go back to where I stopped paying attention to what I was reading, and read again. This process of re-reading material can take up to five attempts at times. But I would not feel satisfied with myself unless I was able to say that I completely understand everything that I just read. To completely understand the material I am reading, I also use a dictionary while I read. When I come across a word that I do not know, I look up its meaning in the dictionary. Once I find its meaning, I write it down next to the word in the text.