Highlighting important parts of your textbook can be a great way to study or to make a summary. Still, there is always the risk that you end up with a textbook which is entirely highlighted. You can prevent this by using the right strategy when using markers. Especially because it does have benefits, but it is still handy to have a strategy in advance. Just as you would also have when reading a textbook.
Read first, before using the marker
Always start with reading the whole paragraph, before even highlighting a word. By reading the whole paragraph first, you will create structure and you will have an overview of the information in the text.
Don’t highlight too much
It can be quite tempting to highlight nearly everything, even though this is not the best strategy. Think about what sentences are telling you what you need to know for you exam. Keep in mind that it is harder to repeat a big piece of text than a few of the most important sentences. Therefore, make sure to only highlight the main topics of the text. Bonus tip: this is often the first and/or last sentence of the paragraph.
Make notes in the margins
Besides highlighting the text with a colored marker, you can also make use of colored pencils in a different way. Use them to draw small symbols in the corner of the page or next to the text, to draw your attention. Moreover, you can reflect on the pieces you read and add your own comments and thoughts. Think about the relationship between the different topics and for instance, draw a figure to clarify the text.
Rather use other methods?
Highlighting your textbook may seem efficient since highlighting takes less time than writing notes. However, there are people that state that it is not so effective as you would like. A study from the Kent University says that the marker will make you only focus on individual facts, which will lead to a lack of overview and not seeing the connections between the topics very clearly. Rather, you can use flashcards or quiz yourself about the study material. Using effective study tactics will help you retain the information more easily and will eventually save you time.
We believe that highlighting the most important topics in a text really helps you to create an overview, but as Kent University states, besides using markers it is advisable to additionally use other study methods such as flashcards (afterward sell them at Stuvia!) and quiz yourself.
Check out this helpful video to learn how to highlight the most efficiently!