Selected study basics


what actually works, from The American Scholar

note-taking systems, from Cal Poly, very good introduction

how to be a good student, from Darmouth College

general advice from Keble College, Oxford


Tim Parks on reading

"The purpose of reading is not to pass some final judgement
on the text, but to engage with what it has to offer to me now."

How to annotate a book, a primer

Taking notes during discussion

The key to taking good notes is to be active. Discussions don't transfer information to memorize for a test. They offer insights into questions and sample passages to help you think more deeply and creatively for yourself. That independent thought is just what I'm looking for.

Discussions don't define answers; they pose questions. So your notes should record the questions under discussion and follow branches of thinking; and record the passages we examine and our analysis of them, and then relate those passages to the questions under discussion. Ideally, your notes should record the understanding you gain from the discussion. That being the case, a branch or web method of note taking might work best. A circle for the question, then branches to circles containing example passages and our insights into them. You might cross-reference insights to annotations in your text.

Speaking of your text, you should be writing in it nonstop during reading and during discussion. Write our questions and insights in the margins of your book. They're like the breadcrumbs in the fairy tale.

Remember that when you write an essay, you need quotations, so recording the questions we raise, the passages we examine and the insights we have into those passages is a no-brainer.

Books to read now

Comma usage with Mary Norris


English usage, some answers

Learn about logical fallacies


Learn to correct simple logical errors

David Foster Wallace's annotated teaching copies