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Falling Behind? Speed Reading Can Be Your Fix

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College courses require hours and hours of weekly reading. Even the best students can fall behind. Sometimes, it may seem impossible to catch up if work or family responsibilities have temporarily taken over your study time.

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There is one option for getting back on track: speed-reading. Speed-reading is more than just reading fast. It’s a technique for scanning and pulling out main themes. Speed-reading can also be a good tool for test preparation.

It’s important to read smart as well as fast. Otherwise, you’ll comprehend and remember little — and waste valuable time. Keep in mind that speed-reading can’t help if reading is difficult for you. Talk to an advisor or trusted professor if comprehension is an issue.

Now, if you’re ready to give speed reading a try, here are 8 ½ quick tips — any more would take too long — to incorporate speed reading into your study plan.

   1.  Create a good reading environment.

Be comfortable, but not so much that you get sleepy. Limit distractions. Create good lighting and position your textbook slightly angled toward you or your e-reader or computer screen at a comfortable distance. Gauge the reading material.

The pace of your speed-reading should change based on the content. You may be able to read high-level journal articles faster than a chapter loaded with technical terms. The same principle applies within a document. Some text provides background, while others may provide more detail. Adjust your speed-reading pace to match.

   2.  Skim the document before your begin reading.

Read the chapter title or journal headline, subheads, bolded words, photo captions and graphics. These are all important clues to what the author wants you to know.

   3.  Ask questions.

Based on those reading clues, ask yourself questions. What do you need to gain from this chapter? How does it build on knowledge from previous chapters? Questions such as these provide a reading map to help you focus on key statements.

   4.  Put away the highlighter.

Highlighting words and writing margin notes will slow your reading and doesn’t ensure comprehension. Instead, read through the text and make notes after you’re finished reading the chapter. This will help you double up on comprehension.

   5.  Test speed-reading techniques.

Some speed reading techniques involve moving your hand across the page. Experts say this helps you continue moving forward and increases speed. Another technique is to use a white index card and move it down the page as you read. Keep in mind that other experts say using your hand or other device can slow your speed.

The key is to omit reading words that are needed for grammar, but not necessarily meaning — “the,” “for,” etc. Then, practice reading so that you can identify meaningful blocks of words in a paragraph. Keep moving your way through the document, focusing on those important blocks instead of each word.

Remember, you’re not reading out loud. Don’t slow down for words you can’t pronounce. Recognize them and know the meaning, but practice pronunciation later.

   6.  Practice.

Practice will help you improve your speed-reading. You’ll increase the pace and learn which techniques work for you.

   7.  Don’t over rely on speed-reading.

It’s important to remember speed-reading’s limitation. For example, if you speed-read a novel, you may miss important inflections or emotions. It may also be very difficult to speed read a very technical document.

   8 ½.  Have fun.

 Speed-reading can be liberating if you’re running short on time and faced with loads of reading. Now, ready, set, go.

– By Online Career Tips Staff

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