There are a lot of popular study methods to choose from, depending on the type of learner you are and how you best retain information. One that isn’t as commonly discussed, though, but can help you with critical thinking as you read new information is the THIEVES method. Use it next time you break open a new chapter for school or need to retain a lot of new information for work.
The THIEVES reading technique, recommended by universities like Kent State, is designed to get you thinking critically while you read. THIEVES, in addition to being fun to say and conjuring images of naughty criminals literally stealing new information and ideas, is just an acronym for the following elements of your content:
- Every first sentence in a paragraph
- Visuals and vocabulary
- End-of-chapter questions
The goal of using this method, per Iowa State, is to figure out what you want to learn from the chapter and how the information within it connects. By writing down each of the seven categories before you start, you’ll set the stage to get a bigger-picture view of the content before you start digging into it, similar to how the SQ3R or KWL methods work.
After writing down all seven of your categories, from Title to Summary, and leaving room under each, start writing down what you want to gain from each one. Under Title, ask yourself what you think the text is about and what you already know about it. Under Headings, ask yourself why the information has been divided up this way, what you think you’ll learn in each section, and how the sub-topics might relate to the bigger picture. From there, start reading, but jot down notes every time you encounter one of the THIEVES items. For instance, after the Introduction, write down what made you curious about the rest of the chapter after you read it, and make sure you do the same after Every first sentence in a section. Any time you get to a graph, picture, or table, write in your Visuals section about what each one represents and what they might tell you about the content and the bigger picture.
At the End, journal about how the author finished the chapter and what you learned, plus what you might learn in the future. Finally, Summarize your reading, writing down what you think the author’s main idea was and your overall understanding of the primary themes and concepts.
Doing this before and as you read will help you stay engaged as you go, and it gives you notes to look back on when you review in the future. Use distributed study to determine how frequently you need to review these notes before your next big test.