Reading Better & Faster

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Step 1: Pay Attention
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Pay attention when you read and read as if it really matters. Most people read in the same way that they watch television, i.e. in an inattentive, passive way. Reading takes effort and you must make the effort. A wise teacher once told me that you can learn anything if you do three things:




There are some simple methods that you can use to pay better attention and get more out of your textbook reading time. Different authors call it different things, but many researchers say that you will improve your comprehension if you somehow "preview" the passage before you actually sit down and read every word.

To do a preview you:

  • take 30 to 60 seconds.
  • look over the title of the chapter.
  • look at all the headings, subheadings and marked, italic or dark print.
  • look at any pictures or illustrations, charts or graphs.
  • quickly skim over the passage, reading the first and last paragraph and glancing at the first sentence of every other paragraph.
  • close the book and ask yourself:
  • ---What is the main idea?
  • ---What kind of writing is it?
  • ---What is the author's purpose?


You might not think that you could possibly answer these questions with so little exposure to the material, but if you do the preview correctly, you should have some very good general ideas. If you have a general idea of what the passage is about before you really read it, you will be able to understand and remember the passage better.

When you finally get to the point where you are actually slowly reading the passage, read in a "questioning" manner -as if you were seaching for something. It sometimes helps if you take the heading or title of a chapter and turn it into a question.

For example, if the heading of a section in the text is "The Causes of the Civil War", take that title and switch it into a question like: "What are the causes of the Civil War?". Now you have a goal; something to look for; something to find out. When you are goal-oriented, you are more likely to reach the goal. At least you'll remember one thing about the text which you have just read.

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