Why Synthesize Along the Way?

This article is part of the teaching tip "Five Keys to Helping Students Read Difficult Texts"

  • You help yourself remember lots of information by stopping long enough and often enough to process the information.  This frees you from overload, so your mind is ready to accept incoming information further into the text while not forgetting what you just read.  
  • It lets you know immediately if you are picking up the information and ideas in the text.  If you cannot put the information into your own words, you know you are not comprehending.  It allows monitoring of comprehension.  
  • You are focused because you know you must gather ideas to download, and the activity of writing every few minutes helps you concentrate.  You are actively constructing ideas, not passively moving your eyes across the page.  
  • You have a purpose for reading, to state the meaning.  It helps you make meaning. “How do I know what I think until I see what I say” (Forester, 1951, Wallas, 1926).
  • It facilitates recall and becomes a product for review. 
  • Stopping to process the text helps you organize the information.
  • The downloading strategies taught here help you focus on the links between the main points and the supporting details.


Tip conributed by:
Marné B. Isakson, Ph.D. (marne_isakson@byu.edu)
Developer of courses: Advanced Reading Strategies for College Success and Surviving College Reading
Author of Learn More & Read Faster: A Handbook of Advanced Reading Strategies for College Success and Surviving College Reading: A Handbook of Essential Strategies for College Success. 
For more information please contact Taylor Halverson, Teaching and Learning Consultant