The secret to reading fast

There is no doubt about it: many college classes require a substantial amount of reading.  When you stack up all the chapters and pages you have to read in a given week, it can seem daunting.

The trick, of course, is to figure out how to get through your reading as fast as possible while still retaining the information you’ll need.

One of the most important things students need to realize in their reading is that not every word is important. When you sit down to read a chapter for your class, your eyes should immediately start scanning for the main ideas.

According to “6 Reading Myths” from the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth University, it’s important to quickly sift through the words in your reading to find the main ideas. “Watch for key words such as ‘causes’ ‘results’ and ‘effects,’” the document recommends.

It’s also important to pay attention to how your reading is structured.  “Look carefully at the headings and other organizational clues,” the document explains. “These tip you off to the main points that the author wants you to learn.”

Greg Mills, a music education senior points out that comprehending the reading is only one part of the process.

“Not only do these courses require you to read, but you have to simultaneously analyze what you read and make critical observations based on your findings. These three steps end up creating more of a time commitment,” Mills said.

To help critically analyze your reading much faster, always read with a pen in hand.

This way, as you start to see connections or make observations in the text, you can write down your ideas right away.

Then, when you inevitably have to take a test on the reading or use the information to write a paper, you’ll already have your ideas written down as a reminder.

Reading with a highlighter only allows you to highlight main points. Reading with a pen allows you jot notes to yourself about why you thought it was important.

It may be frustrating to feel as though so many hours in your week are spent reading, but research suggests that it’s to your benefit.

According to a recent study by the Social Science Research Council, college students whose classes required 40 or more pages of reading a week made greater gains in learning than students who read less.

All those chapters may seem like a pain now, but if you learn to get through them quickly, they won’t take as much of your time and you can learn more in your classes to use in your life after college.

 

Reach the columnist at Emily.Muller@asu.edu

 

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