Key words perception and speed reading

 

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There are many efficient short cuts to finding the information you need. If possible, select a book or article from your reading list that gives an overview of the topic.

With clear questions in mind:

  • Use the contents page first. Does it mention what you are looking for? It may raise more questions.
  • Go to the index at the back. Does this include the key words or names you'll need to follow up?
  • Skim through the first chapter. Skimming is moving quickly from paragraph to paragraph reading only the key sentences.

Instead of reading the whole chapter, simply:

  • Read the first and last paragraphs
  • Ask yourself what they are saying
  • Read the first or last sentence of each paragraph.

From this, you can gain an overall view of the content and the author's opinion, enabling you to decide on the relevance of the book to your topic. Record details of author, title, date, and place of publication now so that you don't have the frustration of trying to find the book again when preparing your bibliography. For your own future reference, note down brief comments about the book. You may need to skim through several books before deciding what you want from each.

So you want to increase your reading rate, but you don't know where to begin? Reading difficulties stem from a variety of causes: single word reading; inadequate vocabulary; inability to vary the reading rate to suit the material; lack of concentration; and a habit of reading slowly. Become conscious of your reading habits.

See if you are able to determine where you are struggling. Teach yourself to read phrases, not single words. Your eyes should not stop at each word but instead should move across the page stopping only in the middle of each small thought block. Learning to read by phrase units will require practice and patience. Once you've developed the phrase reading technique, practice daily and push yourself. But always remember that rapid reading with low comprehension is not productive. Close reading demands your full intellectual powers and your full concentration.

 

Some reading tips

Reflect. This is an important step in your learning because you are actively thinking about what you are learning and what else you need to know. At the end of your reading recall the key concepts. You can show how the ideas you read about are connected - try making a diagram or a picture, or use lines.

If you want to locate specific information from a text, the 'advice sheet' you created will suggest tips for doing so. Normally you have already had some basic knowledge about the topic you selected to read and you have some specific questions in mind that you hope the text will be able to provide answers for.



 

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Habitually returning to what is already read, that usually decreases the speed of reading, no longer happens. Reading each word individually becomes unnecessary because skillful fast readers do not individualize the text when reading at high speeds. 
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