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Study Tips

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Underlining Effectively

Ten Steps

Test Taking

Underlining Effectively



  1. Never underline until you have read the entire paragraph. After reading the paragraph, underline the main idea and the supporting details.
  2. Select your own words to underline. It is not necessary to underline each word in the sentence. Just the core parts will be sufficient to get the full meaning.
  3. Use a variety of marks. You may want to underline the main idea phrases, circle important names, etc. Once you have decided on your own system, it is important to remain consistent.
  4. Write summaries in the margin using your own words. These wordings can be helpful when reviewing, as they direct you immediately to the main ideas of the page.
  5. After finishing your assignment and before you close your book, review the markings you have made. This will serve as a quick review and also give you a chance to take brief notes if you wish.



Like any other skill, underlining is a tool, not a cure-all for getting through college. It will take concentrated practice to develop this skill, but the time you will save in the future will be worth every minute of practice.

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Many students have never correctly learned how to underline a textbook. Many do underline, but the process is usually feast or famine. Some underline almost every word; others, only a few words that don’t really help them. Because of the large amount of reading a college student is expected to do, it is important that he learn the skill of underlining.


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