When it comes to speed-reading, you're basically covering two things: comprehension and the act of reading itself. You should not study speed-reading before you've learned how to comprehend and absorb information. Therefore, you should know how to read very well before you try to conquer speed-reading. If you have trouble with comprehension, it's not going to help you to learn how to speed-read. In order to have the full benefits of what speed-reading can give you, you have to be able to understand materials written at the college level.

If you are an efficient and effective reader, you actually use more than one technique when it comes to reading. When you read, you can scan, peruse or do critical reading. Before you read, you'll decide what type of reading you'll be doing and adopt the proper technique as described above. For example, your reading techniques will change depending on whether you want to, for example, see how an author presents his subject in rhetorical fashion, or whether you want to look for specific facts and details that you can use for the basis of an argument. Or, you might want some background information on a subject you know something about already.

You need to know why you're reading, because it's going to help focus you on particular parts of the text. So before you go on to the next page, for example, take a moment just to clarify what it is you really want to do with your reading.

There are lots of ways you can get a broad overview of the text itself before you actually get to the work of digesting and absorbing what you read. Watch out for information about what the piece of writing is about, what its purpose is, and what the general content of it is. There may also be an author's note or abstract preceding the article that summarizes the article itself. Read any background information available that you can find quickly about the way the article was written, the author him- or herself, what the audience is intended to be, and anything else you can find.

Tips on speed-reading

Once you begin to read, read quickly and don't stop. Read straight through the text and if you have any questions afterward, go back and reread the sections you have questions on.

At the beginning of the chapter, summarize what you've read in writing, about three or four sentences' worth. If you need to go back to the text later, it's much easier to refresh your memory with the summary material you've already written.

Read what you need to once, and skip anything you don't need to read right now. Make your reading time the most efficient possible.

Read the title of the piece and the first paragraph much more carefully than other parts of the article, because these two things will summarize what the article is about for you.

Read any summarizations at the end of the chapter or article, too.

Make note of how you think the material is organized.

If you need more background information, look up another source.

Taking notes while you read is very helpful, so have a paper and pen nearby while you read.

If you're reading on a computer, use the cursor as a sort of "pointer" to keep you on track.

If you're reading on paper, you can use your finger, a pencil, etc., as a sort of "guide" that your eyes can follow, just as you use the cursor on the computer.

Instead of automatically speaking each word mentally as you normally would, try to capture phrases in their entirety, along with the message they convey.

If necessary, you can use "helpers" like highlighting, annotating, and underlining as you read. This can help you emphasize and retain information from the mature though you've read.

If you find relevant information in a particular section, underline it as if you are preparing notes to study from.

Underline all terminology definitions.

Label or mark examples that denote main ideas in a particular paragraph, etc.

Circle or "encapsulate" vocabulary words and phrases or words that are transitional in nature.

Number or bullet sequential or important ideas.

Write down summaries, questions, paraphrases, etc., in blank spaces within the text.

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