Knowing What to Read and How
You can’t help, but notice that the one thing, which takes most of your time when studying in college, is reading. You read hand-written lectures and notes, published books and journals, online articles and blogs. And you do it all the time: when preparing for seminars and exams, when researching for essays and different academic papers, when checking your written assignments or editing them. If it seems to you that you literally read your life through, it’s high time you acquired effective reading techniques
to increase your speed and improve your comprehension.
Let’s focus on the main things that if approached wrong, won’t make you smarter, but only exhausted and stressed out.
1. Reading environment
Finding a comfortable and quiet place, where you can concentrate and won’t be distracted by different noises, is half the battle to improve your reading techniques
and skills. Good lighting is important, so that you don’t cause strain on your eyes and get tired too soon. Do not read in bed, it will make you sleepy and might lead to not remembering the information. Table or a comfortable chair in the morning or at day light will do just fine.
NB. Do your best to avoid intense reading from the screen. Apart from hurting your eyes, online articles may distract you by different links and ads.
2. Active reading
You need to clarify the purpose of the reading and focus on it. Establishing good understanding of what you already know on the topic and what you expect to learn will help you identify whether the source worth your attention at all.
Active reading as a key to the reading comprehension includes following steps:
- Making questions before reading to help your mind think of the material and search for answers.
- Taking down notes to fix the main points with your own words.
- Reviewing and reciting your notes so that you remember better.
It’s a good idea to make up your own table of contents before you start reading and to use glossary if you are dealing with difficult technical material.
3. Skimming and scanning
The core principle you have to bear in mind is that you don’t have to read every single word. Scan the text – you need to locate the most important information. Usually the essential words are underlined or highlighted in books and articles, both web and published.
You can practice ‘zigzag’ reading to pick up only the main ideas and keywords.
Read titles and the first paragraph of each chapter, because usually it contains the key concepts.
NB. Do not say words to yourself. Read phrases, not individual words.
We can’t think of a case when practice doesn’t make perfect. You can also use speed-reading software or take some classes. But remember that it still takes time to develop your reading skills. However, what we know for sure is that the more you read and use these strategies, the better reader you are likely to become very soon.
Being able to read at high speed and nevertheless comprehend the material is a very helpful skill that will surely come in handy not only in college. Don’t forget, that we are always there for you for some extraordinary situation, when you are just out of time to do the reading, but need to write an assignment urgently. Let us know, if you need us!