This is a SOS.
I'm taking an online course but I don't know how to study. I mean it literally.
The material is a 100 pages pdf. Obviously I can't learn everything in it. I don't know how to find a way to study that works for me. Should I just read it again and again or take notes while reading, or doing mind mapping (but then how do I choose what is important to know)...
What I'm asking is what is your own method to study? Do you have any tips on how to find my own way ?

@KrisO Print it out like a book, then taking notes while reading. Making a powerpoint from the book will also help.

@KrisO I like working with print outs over PDFs.

Check out the Short Guide to Reading Academic Texts on Mar Hicks' website:

Lots of students find it useful.

My own go-to is to underline as I read (key arguments, disagreements with prior literature, stakes, evidence) and then to take notes afterwards, summarizing the stuff I underlined.

Hope that helps!

@Aepasek @KrisO Mar Hicks' guide is great. If you'd like something similar but with some more explanation, Casey Boyle's "something like a reading ethics" works well for my brain:

The first few sections are aimed mostly at other professors, so you can probably skip down to the "Ethical Reading" heading.

Also, Boyle's writing for profs, so he uses some rhetorical terms without defining them (boo!). "Exigence" means "what prompted the author to write this thing?"

@KrisO definitely printing, underlining, making notes. Trying to explain things out loud, to myself or someone else. When reading / rephrasing out loud, I usually realise what I do and don’t understand.

It depends on the material though. If there’s a lot of stupid “need to learn it by heart” stuff (dates, numbers etc), find memory tricks (initials, sums, ways words respond to each other, songs, whatnot).

Good luck !

@KrisO Think about how it will be assessed. If you need to write a paper, for example, looking for the parts of the document that will help you answer the question will make it easier to know what to look for.


Create a 2-3 page “cheat sheet” summarizing the document and its important points. This will cause you to learn the material while doing a concrete task while also creating a “map” of the material that you cN refer to later.

@dredmorbius Sorry for the late answer. Subject is Europe and Middle East 5th-11th century. I'm in first year for a bachelor degree in History. I left school ten years ago. My degree is online only so I need to form new habits on how I learn.

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