How to Increase the speed of Reading
Don’t get hung up on single words or sentences, but do look up (in the dictionary) key words that you must understand in order to grasp an entire concept.
Try to grasp overall concepts rather than attempting to under- stand every detail.
If you find yourself moving your lips when you read (vocal- ization), practice reading with a pen or some other (nontoxic, nonsugary) object in your mouth. If it falls out while you’re reading, you know you have to keep working!
Work on building your vocabulary. You may be reading slowly (and/or having trouble understanding what you read) because your vocabulary is insufficient for your reading level.
Read more...and more often. Reading is a habit that improves with practice.
Avoid rereading words or phrases. According to one recent study, an average student reading at 250 words per minute rereads 20 times per page. The slowest readers reread the most.
- Focus your attention and concentration.
- Eliminate outside distractions.
- Provide for an uncluttered, comfortable environment.
To Increase Your Comprehension
- Try to make the act of learning sequential— comprehension is built by adding new knowledge to existing knowledge.
- Review and rethink at designated points in your reading. Test yourself to see if the importance of the material is getting through.
- If things don’t add up, discard your conclusions. Go back, reread, and try to find an alternate conclusion.
- Summarize what you’ve read, rephrasing it in your notes in your own words.
Most importantly, read at the speed that’s comfortable for you. Though I can read extremely fast, I choose to read novels much more slowly so I can appreciate the author’s wordplay. Likewise, any material that I find particularly difficult to grasp slows me right down. I read newspapers, popular magazines, and the like very fast, seeking to grasp the information but not worrying about every detail.
Should you take some sort of speed reading course, especially if your current speed level is low?
Reading for speed has some merit—many people who are slow read- ers read as little as possible, simply because they find it so tedious and boring. But just reading faster is not the answer to becoming a good reader.
I can’t see that such a course could particularly hurt you in any way. I can also, however, recommend that you simply keep practicing read- ing, which will increase your speed naturally.
Remembering What You Read
In a world where the ability to master and remember a growing explosion of data is critical for individual success, too little attention is paid to the dynamics of memory and systems for improving it. Developing your memory is probably the most effective way to increase your efficiency, in reading and virtually everything else.
There are some key factors that will help you remember more of what you read:
■ Understanding. You will remember only what you understand. When you read something and grasp the message, you have begun the process of retention. The way to test this is to rephrase the message in your own words. Can you summarize the main idea? Unless you understand what is being said, you won’t be able to decide whether to remember or discard it.
Desire. You remember what you choose to remember. If you do not want to retain some piece of information or don’t believe you can, then you won’t! To remember the material, you must want to remember it and be convinced that you will remember it.
Overlearn. To ensure that you retain material, you need to go beyond simply doing the assignment. To really remember what you learn, you should learn material thoroughly, or overlearn. This involves prereading the text, doing a critical read, and having some definite means of review that reinforces what you should have learned.
Systematize. It’s more difficult to remember random thoughts or numbers than those organized in some pattern. For example, which phone number is easier to remember: 538–6284 or 678–1234? Once you recognize the pattern in the second number, it takes much less effort to remember than the first. You should develop the ability to discern the structure that exists and recall it when you try to remember. Have a system to help you recall how information is organized and connected.
Association. It’s helpful to attach or associate what you are trying to recall to something you already have in your memory. Mentally link new material to existing knowledge so that you are giving this new thought some context in
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