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Studying Tip: Read From Paper, Not Screens!

Student reading from paper to study

There are plenty of studying tips that can help students make the most of the time they spend pouring over notes in preparation for upcoming exams. But even if students are turning off technological distractions, sitting at a desk instead of lounging in bed, and going for a walk to get their blood pumping before settling in to study, they can still have difficulty retaining information depending on how they are reading over their notes.

According to an article posted on fastcompany.com, a report by Scientific American finds that “reading is topographic. As you read something, you structure out its content in your mind … just as you mentally map a trail as you ascend a mountain, your brain plots the line-by-line journey your eyes walk through a book.”

So what does this mean? It means that we understand and remember information better if we read it from a page than from a screen. When asked to recall information, our brains will remember where on a page we have read the information, aiding in recall. Studying notes from a computer screen or tablet, does not give our brains the same context as reading the information from a textbook or a series of printed pages. “The infinite scroll of a website or clicked pagination of an e-reader doesn’t supply the same cartographic clues … you only have access to the handful of paragraphs present on the screen with the rest of the text is hidden … which means you miss out on the contextual information you receive ambiently by holding a book in your hands.”

Coupled with the increased chance of getting distracted or procrastinating when online, it just makes sense: students should write/print their study notes out on paper, grab their textbooks, and turn off screens to study effectively!


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