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Before You Start Speed Reading


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How many times have you promised yourself to read more but just never found enough time?
If only you could do it quickly and more efficiently.

Effective and efficient readers learn to use many styles of reading for different purposes, which include skimming, scanning, and critical reading. Before reading, you need to identify the purpose why youll be doing such activity: Are you looking for background information on a topic you know a little bit about already? Are you looking for specific details and facts that you can marshal in support of an argument? Are you trying to see how an author approaches his topic rhetorically?

It is crucial to know your purpose in reading as it helps focus your attention on important aspects of the text. Before turning those pages, take a moment first to reflect and clarify what your goal really is.

There are many ways to familiarize your self with the background of the text, and gain a useful overview of its content and structure before actually absorbing and digesting the text. Seek information about the context of the reading, its purpose, and its general content. Look for an abstract or an authors or editors note that may precede the article itself. Read any background information that is available to you about the author, the occasion of the writing, its intended audience, and more useful information.

After viewing the title and noting general ideas that are accessible to you as a reader, you can continue to browse pages and scan paragraphs in order to get the gist of what material the text covers and how that material is arranged. As soon as you finished looking over the text as a whole, read the introductory paragraph or section, noticing that some authors will provide an overview of their message as well as an explicit statement of their thesis or main point in the opening portion of the text.     Considering the background information, the messages conveyed by the title, note or abstract, and the information from the opening paragraph or section, you should be able to proceed with a good hunch of the reading materials direction.

In order to become aware of your reading situation, ask yourself questions like:
*    What do I want (or need) to know and learn?
*    In which context do I want (or need) this?
*    Which texts could suit these needs?
*    What made me choose this text?
*    How deeply an understanding of the text do I need?
*    How much time have I got?
*    How do I want to proceed?

Consider Your Purpose

To help you determine a purpose, consider the following ideas:
*    Are you looking for brief information, main ideas, complete comprehension, or detailed analysis?
*    How will this text help you?
*    Is this the best material to meet your goals?
*    What does background or summary information provided by the author or editor predict the text will do?
*    Does there seem to be a clear introduction and conclusion that can be useful? Where?
*    What claims does the author make at the beginnings and endings of sections?
*    Are there key words that are repeated or put in bold or italics to help you skim and scan?
*    What kinds of development and detail do you notice? Does the text include statistics, tables, and pictures or is it primarily prose?

Are names of authors or characters repeated frequently?

Look for Specific Words
*    Scan a section for key words.
*    Skim to the words that provide meaning and may be useful for you and your purpose.

Become an Impatient Reader

Speed readers are considered impatient readers. They read with a purpose and want to find answers immediately. They cant wait to find out what the whole text is all about that they usually make predictions and guess the answers.
Some readers say, “If I think ahead while I am reading, my predictions may be wrong.”

The truth is, predicting is useful because all your concentration is focused on the reading and you are actually making senses of it. Speed readers predict what the text is likely to tell them next, but they are not upset if a prediction is wrong; they quickly adjust their expectations.

Different Speeds for Different Materials

You do not need to read every word to understand a text; however some texts will require careful reading, so you need to know when to adjust your reading speed. Skim a text, and then decide if a slower reading approach is necessary.

Practice Activity

In order to avoid reading every word, you must increase the rate your eyes move across the page. As a practice activity, choose an easy material for to read. Sweep your eyes faster across the page than youve ever done before. Do not mouth the words; do not even mentally say them. Start with short practice periods, e.g. 3 minutes, record your rate (how many words have you read in 3 minutes?), and then continue with longer periods or with texts that are more complicated.

The First Steps in Speed Reading

In reading, your starting position and reading gesture is relevant: sit up straight, with the book being held by your left hand, and with your right hand doing the pacing.

Being already a good reader is a plus factor in attempting to speed read. Otherwise, it may be quite difficult and may take some time. Speed reading program will not work if you have problems comprehending and your vocabulary is too little. In fact, rushing through things you can’t understand is actually useless. Yes, you may be able to read fast, but you just won�t understand what you will be reading.

Speed Reading Tips

Read until the end! Do not get tired, discouraged, or bored; dont just stop reading when you want to. Dont you know that ideas do become clearer the further you go with the reading materials? After you finish reading, recall the things that you have learned, return to the ideas that seem unclear, and reread them in order to grasp their ideas. When you begin to read, you should:
*    Be able to find the answers to the questions youve come up with
*    Answer guide questions at each chapter (you may see these questions at the beginning or at the end of the chapter)
*    Take note of the important words and phrases  underlined, italicized, and bold printed
*    Read only one section at a time, and recite the summary of each section afterwards
*    Do not ignore captions under pictures, tables, graphs, etc.
*    Carefully read and absorb difficult passages. On parts which are not clear, dont be afraid to stop and reread

Learn To Read Faster
Knowing How Deeply to Study the Material

Where you only need the shallowest knowledge of the subject, you can skim the material. This is done by reading only chapter headings, introductions and summaries.
If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, then you can scan the text. Here you read the chapter introductions and summaries in detail, but may speed-read the contents of the chapters picking out and understanding key words and important
concepts. At this level of looking at the document, it is worth paying attention to diagrams and graphs.
Only when you need detailed knowledge of a subject is it worth studying the text. Studying is skimming the material first to get an overview, and afterwards reading it in detail while seeing how the information presented connects to the overall structure of the subject. An effective method of getting the deepest level of understanding on a text is to use a formal method such as SQ3R (discussed in a later chapter).

Do you read every article of every magazine, or every chapter of every book? If so, you’re probably spending a lot of time reading stuff you don’t need. Remember: You don’t need to read all of what you DO read. Be choosy. Select the chapters and articles that are important. Ignore the rest.

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