It’s a fact of life: as long as you’re a student, you will be required to read. These five tips will help you learn to read faster, so that you’ll be able to get through those learned tomes and have some time left to do other things.
1. Determine your goal in reading the text
Before you start reading, ask yourself why you are reading the article. If you are only after specific information, don’t bother reading the entire text; just skim it. If you are revising for an exam, do read the entire text (repeatedly).
2. Find relevant background information
If you are required to read a difficult article fast, you will find that having some knowledge of the subject is helpful. If you have some background information on your subject, you won’t have to stop reading to try and figure out what the phrases with which you are unfamiliar mean. For instance, if you’re going to have to read a scientific paper on how sleep deprivation affects the human brain, you may wish to start by finding some general information on the human brain and sleep deprivation.
3. Practise as often as possible
Reading is a skill. As with all skills, you will get better at it if you practice more regularly. Once you’ve reached a certain level, it is important that you keep practicing. Readers may lose their reading skills if they don’t practice them, just like marathon runners lose their fitness when they stop running.
4. Apply the right reading technique to the right kind of text
By reading different types of texts, you will develop your own reading strategies. These strategies may differ from type of text to type of text, and will become more efficient if you keep practicing. For instance, consider inspecting the table of contents of your textbook before you start reading. This will help you get an idea of how the book is structured.
5. Take a speed-reading course or read up on it
In order to learn to read faster, you can take a speed-reading course, e.g. the course offered by the NIHES research institute (www.scientificspeedreading.nl). However, do be aware that speed-reading does not necessarily help you comprehend a text. For this reason, it is all the more important that you identify your goal in reading a text before you start reading