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   Effective Reading


Reading plays an important role in our day-to-day life. It is also an important aspect in the life of students. The massive content included in the study curriculum can be tricky, particularly when the subject is unfamiliar. Before you start reading a new topic, stop for a moment and start questioning yourself as to what you need to find out, and then select the reading that relates to your questions.

Ask yourself: Why are you reading?

How you read depends on your motive. Generally for many of us our education system demands a great amount of reading. Although students are rarely asked to read up all the references and biblographies for that matter, but if the whole idea of reading itself seems to be daunting, suggestion would be that don't hesitate to ask your professor for help. The whole motive of most of your reading will be to seek related to an assignment or course material.

Reading has many motives, and there are many ways to read:

  • To locate specific information means skimming rapidly over text until you find what you're looking for, e.g. reading a newspaper, a magazine, a novel etc.

  • To understand reasons and facts and to learn, read slowly and deliberately.

  • To enjoy words and descriptions, as in poetry and some prose, slow or repeated reading is needed to get the feel of the language or to picture a scene. Here reading along with - "the power of imagination" plays a vital role.

  • To escape into a novel, you might skip the dull parts and pick up enough detail to see what happens and how it ends, skimming some parts and dwelling on others. In short, reading what you like to read.

Methods of Reading

1. Active Reading
  • Pay attention to the question or the theme in the passage that you are reading.

  • Read with a motive, and have an idea of the information you are looking for before you begin reading.

Use the Table of Contents and Index Page: It enables you to directly locate relevant information.

Previewing: Take a minute to preview a chapter or article. Don't take any notes, don't underline, just scan the material. Preview the material by reading abstracts, listed objectives, headings, subheadings, introductions and conclusions. Note any pictures, graphs or charts.

Skimming: It is the process of quickly locating specific information from a large quantity of written material. Follow few steps while using the skimming technique:

Allow your eyes to move quickly over a page untill you find a relevant section.
Look for key words or names.
Phrases such as "on the other hand" and "finally" often signify a summary of the author's main arguments or conclusions.
When you locate information requring attention, slow down to read the relevant section more thoroughly.

2. Critical Reading
Let us understand the meaning of Critical Reading:
The purpose of critical reading is to gain a deeper understanding of the material. It involves reading in depth. Some questions you should ask yourself while reading are:

  • Has the writer backed up statements and ideas with credible evidence?

  • Are logical arguments used?

  • Does the writer present the two sides of a case evenhandedly?
Looking at how material is organised can help you to understand its contents. To help reinforce your understanding, take notes or underline information.

3. SQ3R Speed Reading
Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. These are the basic steps to this method.

Go over the title, headings, captions under pictures, charts or maps. Review questions teacher made during study guides. Read the introductory and concluding paragraphs and the summary.

Try to turn everything into a question. It is specially important to turn titles into questions, and after every chapter. If you write your questions down, you will be using a modified version of this method called SQW3R.

Remember to look for answers to the questions you asked at first. Find the meaning of each paragraph or chapter. Reread any additional material like words under pictures or graphs. Slow down your reading pace on hard chapters.

Ask yourself and answer out loud; What was this about? Summarize the material you just read. It is important to do this right after having read the material.

For material that needs to be properly learned, remember to go over it all once a day for 7 days. Use notes, flashcards, reread underlined and bolded material. Ask yourself questions, and summarize everything over again.

4. Card Speed Reading

This reading technique is based on using a folded piece of paper on top of the line you are reading and covering lines as you read them. This method is very similar to speed reading.

The idea is to push oneself to read faster and not repeat going over any material. It is a common force of habit many readers have that keeps them from adequately speed reading.

By using the card it is possible for people to force themselves into better focusing on what they reading, since it will be covered and the option of re-reading will not be possible.

This is just one technique used for speed reading.

Remember, like with any exercise, you want to continually push yourself to achieve constant improvement, and over time, master the art of speed reading.

5. Vary Your Reading Rate
Good readers are flexible in their reading style. Rate adjustment may be overall adjustment to the article as a whole, or it may be internal adjustment within the article.

Overall adjustment is the basic rate at which the total article is read.

Internal adjustment is concerned with the necessary variations in rate that take place as each part of the material is read.

Base your rate adjustment on:

1. Your purpose. What do you want to get from the material?
2. The nature and difficulty of the material.
3. The amount of previous experience you have had with this subject.

Your reading purpose: Circumstances will determine why you are reading and how much you have to get out of your reading. For example, a chapter may have been assigned in class, or you may be gathering material for a speech, or you may be trying to impress your friends by your knowledge of Shakespeare. You need to be eminently clear not only on such general purposes but also on specific purpose.

  • To "get the gist," read very rapidly.

  • To understand general ideas, read fairly rapidly.

  • To get and retain detailed facts, read at a moderate rate.

  • To locate specific information, skim or scan at a rapid rate.

  • To determine value of material, skim at a very rapid rate.

  • To preread or postread, scan at a fairly rapid rate.

  • To read for enjoyment, read rapidly or slowly, depending on what you want.

  • To build general background, read rapidly.

Nature and difficulty of material: First of all, this involves an overall adjustment in rate to match you thinking ability. Obviously, overall level of difficulty depends on who's doing the reading. While Einstein's theories may be extremely difficult to most laypeople, they may be very simple and clear to a professor of physics. hence, the laypeople and the physics professor must make different overall adjustments in rate of reading the same material. General reading which is difficult for you will require a slower rate; simpler material will permit a faster rate.

Decrease speed when you find the following:

1. an unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence.
Try to understand it from the way it's used; then read on and return to it later. You may wish to underline the word so you can find it again quickly.

2. Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure. Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.

3. Unfamiliar or abstract ideas. Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea "make sense." Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time. Find someone to help you if necessary.

4. Detailed, technical material. This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have scant background.

5. Material on which you want detailed retention. The key to memory is organization and recitation. Speed should not be a consideration here.

Increase speed when you find the following:

1. Simple material
with few ideas new to you. Move rapidly over the familiar; spend most of your time on the few unfamiliar ideas.

2. Unnecessary examples and illustrations. These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them rapidly.

3. Detailed explanation and elaboration which you do not need.

4. Broad, generalized ideas. These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques.

Skip that material which is not suitable for your purpose. While the author may have thought particular information was relevant, his/her reason for writing was not necessarily the same as your reason for reading.

Remember to keep your reading attack flexible. Shift gears from selection to selection. Use low gear when the going is steep; shift into high when you get to the smooth parts. Remember to adjust your rate within a given article according to the type of road you are traveling and to your purposes in traveling it. Most important, remember: Reading this paper hasn't done you and good. Not yet. You must practice these techniques until a flexible reading rate becomes second nature to you.



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