document.documentElement.className = 'js'; Do You Read But Cannot Retain? : A & U Ng

Earlier research on causes of students’ poor academic performance has largely focused on poor reading habits, availability of reading materials, learning environment and teacher quality. Very little literature in the far past focused on Intelligent Quotient (IQ) as a parameter for determining possible learning outcomes.

However, as time elapse, researchers begin to focus on the importance of students’ intelligent quotient (IQ) on their overall academic performance. Intelligent quotient has since then been found to play a very key role in the determination of students’ performance.
An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from a set of standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence. It is the capacity to solve and think logically about novel problems. It can be dependent or independent of acquired knowledge. Sometimes, intelligence quotient depends on experience and knowledge and it could be defined as the ability to use these factors (Sternberg, 2005).

A Lack Of Retention

Sometimes, some students read without retaining what they read for long and this affects them tremendously in examinations. At least, I have come across some of these crops of students to have a feel of what it seems like. A 100 level colleague of mine who was always reading and having good sense of use of grammar was always failing examinations back then. Some of us were shocked as to why a dilligent girl repeated classses. It was later she confided in me that she does not understand too well nor retain what she read and so, cannot do well in examinations. On the otherhand, another student who do not have the habit of reading back then also confided in me when I approached her of her poor reading habit that she doesn’t understand what she read and so, copying from others during examinations was her only option.

These two instances along with other observed cases gave the writer the perception that truly, there are learners who suffer from “a lack of understanding and retention”. Many students across learning settings puts in their best to do well in their examinations, but however, come out with unexpected grades. Most of these students do not come out to tell you what they suffer unless you perceive their problems, go closer to them and inquire. Some of them often feel inadequate and try as much as possible to remove themselves from others. At the end, it leads to inferiority complex especially when they see themselves amongst haughty fellows. This can also lead to depression and possible suicide attempt if not checked on time.

The most depressing part of students who read but do not retain nor understand is that most of them put in the needed efforts to have good grades. They read, bought all required materials, attended classes punctually and regularly but the problem still persisted. So, with all these efforts, it is hard for observers to really understand what is wrong unless the sufferers confide in them.


Well, the purpose of writing this paper is quite different from the dyslexia condition. Dyslexia is a type of learning disability affecting the ability to process written, and sometimes spoken language. So, this is different. This paper focuses on students who can read fluently, speak fluently, jots very fast or maybe slow but forget all of that in an examination they prepared for.
What Can We Do?

There is much that can be done by all and sundry if we care. First, there is what the students themselves can do. Also, colleagues have roles to play. Finally, the teachers have one of the most critical roles in this subject matter.

The Sufferers

As a student who read and do not understand, endeavour to attempt the following:

1. Read in bits: One of the reason why you may continue in the dilema is reading too many contents Focus on very few materials, topics and sentences. Why not read just one line, memorize it and during examination, if you have to write on such area, you can develop such point yourself rather than memorizing the whole material and forgetting it in the examinations.

2. Move with friends who knows your situation and encourage you: A problem known is a problem half solved. If you hide your situation, it may be too late for friends to help you. You have to let your closest and trusted friend(s) know your situation. Talk to the reasonable and mature ones amongst you. Please, stay away from the haughty friends. Their actions may make you feel inadequate. Find humble friends who are ready to learn with you.

3. Adopt repetitive learning habits: In academics, even the intelligent ones forget and fails at times. So forgetful is not excluded from some persons. Everyone forgets. So, keep on repeating one content until you grasp the idea. So dwell on the idea, not the sentence you saw there. Imagine the idea, put it in picture to help you pick it up. You retain more of what you saw, so alway picture the things you read. Tag them with events to aid you bring them up again.

4. See a counsellor: Most students do not really understand the power of a counsellor until they pay a visit someday. So, try it out one day, it is very helpful. It may even be all you ever needed. The soothing information you will get from a professional counsellor may help you meet up.

5. Explain to your teachers: This may give you some advantages. A professional teacher may decide to give you an alternate examination. Providing cheaper questions for you. This is a kind of Alternate Individual Learning Preferences (AILP).

Klemm (2009) highlighted the following eight tips to help forgetful learners scale through:
1. Read with a purpose.
2. Skim first.
3. Get the reading mechanics right.
4. Be judicious in highlighting and note taking.
5. Think in pictures.
6. Rehearse as you go along.
7. Stay within your attention span and work to increase that span.
8. Rehearse again soon.

Help From Colleagues

Colleagues can also help forgetful learners meet up within the academic space. They can assist in the following ways:
1. Identify forgetful learners and reach out
2. Do not be over righteous or too intelligent for them. They may avoid you for fear of being mocked.
3. Do things according to their level when you are with them.
4. Within you (not outwardly), see yourself as a teacher and operate according to his/her pace
5. Always take him/her along for reading.
6. Soothe him/her. Let them know it is a normal challenge that can be conquered by taking the right steps.
7. Use the contents under SUFFERERS in this paper to guide them

Help From Educators

A teacher can be of help to forgetful learners in the following ways:
1. Identify forgetful learners and reach out to them
2. Modulate examination questions to suit their level of IQ. If such would mean too simple examinations questions for other students, then isolate the slow learner(s)
3. Use a diferent marking scheme
4. Criterion pass mark MAY be lowered
5. Guidance and encouragement
6. Make them do the best they can


To help forgetful learners win the fight against the dilema they face, society must come together to assist. As indicated above, both sufferers, colleagues, teachers, organizations, etc. have roles to play to help forgetful learners. The first thing to do that is of great importance is the ability to identify them. This is often very difficult since you see them doing well outwardly but later see their performance as not being a good measurement of their efforts. Observing and identifying these persons is often difficult as it may take months or even years. It may even take longer if the sufferer hides his/her results from everyone. This is why as teachers, colleagues and educators, we must try to identify them and reach out to them.


Sternberg, R. J. (2005). The theory of successful intelligence. Interam. J. Psychol. 39, 189–202.

Klemm, B. (2009). 8 tips to remember what you read. Retreived February 18th, 2020 from