Marking texts exercise

The first homework we give our students in one on one course is marking texts. Thie exercise is very important for the students’ progress and I want some of it to be open for my readers.

The exercise itself

The guidelines could not be simpler. Take a text and mark the words worth memorizing with a yellow marker, and the words you cannot afford forgetting with a green marker. The marked text is sent to me for review. That’s it.

The second set of guidelines

Now once I get the first submission I narrow down my request:

  • Try to see if you can recreate the text from the words marked yellow. If you do not need some of them, remove them. If you need more words, add them.
  • You should have only about 6 words marked in green.  Make sure you will recall the article from them. You may add your own words.
  • Try to group the marked words in triplets. Three words are typically the bare minimum provide both the context and the new idea. You may add two more words for details, but you are not guaranteed to remember them.
  • Try to speed up your marking process. It should be effortless and intuitive. This may require some training.

Premium set of guidelines

You may understand that pretty soon this exercise escalates into full mindmap or mental palace construction. This part is preserved for paying customers.

Choosing the right reading materials

Not everything is suitable for this exercise. If you feel like you want to mark every word, or there is nothing remarkable within, there is no point taking the particular text. Typically I recommend people to use a professional blog, remove formatting and images, and mark words in its PDF or MsWord variation. This way it is easy to modify markings.

Common mistakes

There are a few mistakes worth mentioning:

  • People never mark important metadata, like title, authors, numbers. It is OK not to mark them if you intend to memorize them anyway. You will probably need them.
  • The eye should be trained to catch rare words in the context of your document. If you marked ordinary words that are expected in a document like this, then what are you planning to learn from the text?
  • The markings distribution tells things about you and about the text. Quite often only a part of the text is interesting and innovating, so it is OK to mark only that part. If the entire document is interesting, mark evenly.
  • The last and the first sentence of each paragraph may catch too many or too few markers, which usually indicates that either the author takes time to develop his thoughts or you take time speeding up or slowing down your reading.
  • If the author highlighted a word with a different font or exclamation mark, maybe you should do the same.
  • The authors often put sentences that are not important for the meaning but are there to capture our curiosity and our eyeballs. Try to avoid those motivational paragraphs.

Good luck training. As always, you can reach me via [email protected]


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