Is it beneficial to photo read the same set of review books on a daily basis for a period of time? If so, what time frame do you recommend?
If you consider the topic, new, difficult to understand? Then yes. If it's a topic you consider yourself a bit of an expert. No, it's unnecessary. When it comes to textbooks I invite students to PhotoRead their textbooks at the beginning of the term once a day for 2 to 4 week. The point at which your mind starts objecting (this is boring, I've already done this, I've had enough) is the point when you're ready to activate.
Prepare --- here purpose is important. Check your purpose for your study / activation layer. I find it smarter to Use activation techniques Superreading & dipping, First, Might take me 3 minutes to do the chapter, I might get nothing out of it to answer my mind probing questions, That's fine because I am allowed to look at the pages again. So I'd probably repeat superreading and dipping if I only spent 3 minutes on the 5 to 10 pages. I'll probably get a bit. And if I'm intending to learn something I probably want more and my purpose hasn't been satisfied. I'd be 10 minutes in and start superread and dip again adding skittering and mind mapping. The first two superread I may not mind map unless something is really clicking and I'd probably start skittering as well when it does.
At the end of twenty minutes I'd stop. If the chapter is 10 to 15 (660 words) A4 pages I have probably spent enough time with it for learning, Of course that depends on the material, my interest level, my need to know. I know if my interest level is low and I "need to know" I have to work on my curiosity and /or spend more time with the material than I might like. So If my interest is low I superread and dip more and explore more of the book outside the chapters. This 20 to 30 minute exploration to explore the book and find how it might be interesting to me, so that I can get more out of the book in less time (that's a purpose btw)
Now if I expect to be "tested for my knowledge on the subject." Activation may total an hour or more for 30 to 60. Since many textbooks require 2 to 10 hours or more per chapter (depends on the topic, How much I learned from other sources etc) I'd definitely give it a break after an hour and after that break look at a different chapter.
I'd do a rapid read of 7 and no more than 10 minute for 15 pages a day or more later. This is where I like to be lazy and let the preconscious processor handle some of the learning. I found even if I didn't feel I understood the material, if I return to it after a break and overnight sleep, I look at the text again and it makes sense. So it's my don't stress policy to give it a break and sleep on it.
So I leave that for the next day / study period or a bit further down the track after looking at my mind maps. The times given are for textbooks I assume to be A4 sized rather than traditional book size. If the textbook is traditional sized I'd halve the time for the number of pages I mentioned since they average 330 words to a page.
In addition to photoreading USMLE review books, is it beneficial to photoread USMLE computer based sample test banks?
I consider them a brilliant but underused aid to learning. The above approach is what I'd use if I didn't have access to sample tests.
With access to sample text my approach is somewhat different.
I'd PhotoRead the textbooks daily for a week.
PhotoRead the sample test.
After a week or two of PhotoReading the textbooks I would sit down and do a sample test, In the time they would usually allocate for the test. At this point I'm not interested in whether I would pass, I'm on a search to learn what I need to learn. As I am human I too fall into the trap of only learning what comes easy. And those questions I would probably already have a feel for if not being 100% correct. It's the questions that totally stump me I will want to focus on.
In other words I'm finding out what I need to learn and need to know to pass the test.
I had someone who is severely dyslexic ask me to teach him PhotoReading as he was going to sit for exams the following month and he had not yet cracked open the textbook. I taught him PhotoReading and told him not to do anything more about "reading / activating" the textbook until he did a sample test. If you know the answer you're done, If you don't know the answer that's what you activate for.
Since his samples did not come with answers, he asked, "what if I think I know the answer but it's wrong."
"That's life. We all have stuff we think we know but can be proven wrong. If you're thinking about it, if you're not sure, that's your clue to check. If you know you're right but turn out to be wrong then that's a question you're going to get wrong anyway. But most of the time when we are confident we are right we are right."
He only had time to do one sample test as they would sit for it. His family and work commitments on top of attending classes made it difficult to do more.
His track record has always been last place in every subject since he simply couldn't read and as a result write his answers so that a reader could understand them. He continued to work on improving his reading the 20 plus years since leaving high school but it still is a challenge for him.
He reported to me his results for the exam. He didn't pass, He didn't fail...
He got distinction.
He didn't have time to do many activation layers so the sample test clued him on "what exactly" his instructors expect him to have knowledge of.
Like I've mentioned many times on the forum. If the chapter or textbook ends with sample questions start your activation by answering those questions first. If you answer the question you don't need to spend a lot of time activating for that. It's the questions you can't answer that you need to learn so activate that as a priority.
A quick rapid read is all you need when you seem to be answering the questions. It can be even be skipped if your mind maps remind you of the chapter with ease. (10 -15 minutes 10 to 30 A4 pages)
A slower rapid read is what you need when you've done an hour or more of activation (depending on the number of pages) and you got the feeling you missed something. The but, there's more and I don't know what I'm looking for (15 to 30 minutes for 10 to 30 A4 pages)
Use the times as a flexible, rough guide. You may need to double or triple the time for the textbooks you're working with or for the subject you are learning. Remember a textbook can take 24 to 150 hours of reading to fully learn to the level required to pass the exams using traditional reading skills. So if you manage to reduce the time to 6 to 75 hours to successfully pass, you're still miles ahead of the traditional reading pack.
The short version of how I approach it.
• Work out what I need to learn and set my purpose.
If sample questions are available I start my activation there (my purpose is to work out what I need to learn so I can set an effective purpose) Time allocated depends on what I have access to at this point.
• postview - build my curiosity especially if my interest in the subject is poor and I need to know it to pass the exam. Form Questions especially if I don't have any sample questions to kick start the process.
• Activate using SR&D first to answer questions. Form more questions as I go.
• Keep my activation blocks to 20 minutes, take 5 minute breaks and 15 or more minutes after 1 hour.
• Combine SR&D and skitter and begin mindmapping as the answers to questions come.
• Put the pen down after writing key words (I find holding the pen I write too much to the mind map. The act of picking up the pen gives me time to think and put into my own words what I need to write on the mind map.)
• Skitter mainly if the material is particularly dense, academic or one paragraph is almost the whole page (half a page in A4 pages)
• Rapid read as a final review. (fast, never more than 10 minutes for a regular 30 page chapter or 15 page A4, even faster if less) Only if I want to give it my mind map a bit more polish. I would leave this out if I'm pressed for time.
• Rapid read when I get the feeling I missed something but don't know how to formulate questions. I allow up to 30 minutes in this case. It's the one time I allow my activation layer to be longer than 20 minutes and it is the final one.
Drink plenty of water.