Overwhelmed by homework? Learn to read faster! It's possible, and not at all difficult.
We've got 10 easy ways to read faster when you study. Even if you use only a few of these ideas, you'll be reading faster and studying more effectively.
Don't miss 6 Speed Reading Techniques from H. Bernard Wechsler of the famed Evelyn Wood reading program.
1. Read only the first sentence of a paragraph.
If your author is good author, he or she will begin each paragraph with a key statement that tells you what that paragraph is about. By reading only the first sentence, you can determine if the paragraph has information you need to know.
If you're reading literature, this still applies, but know that you may miss details that enrich the story. When the language in literature is artful, I would choose to read every word.
2. Skip to the last sentence of the paragraph.
The last sentence in a paragraph should also contain clues for you about the importance of the material covered. A last sentence often serves two functions -- it wraps up the thought expressed and provides a connection to the next paragraph.
3. Read phrases.
When you've skimmed first and last sentences and determined the paragraph is worth reading, you still don't need to read every word. Move your eyes quickly over each line and look for phrases and key words. Your mind will automatically fill in the words between.
4. Ignore the little words.
Ignore the little words like it, to, a, an, and, be -- you know the ones. You don't need them. Your brain will see these little words without acknowledgment.
5. Look for key points.
Look for key points while you're reading for phrases. You're probably already aware of the key words in the subject you're studying. They'll pop out at you. Spend a little more time with the material around those key points.
6. Mark key thoughts in the margins.
I know you were taught not to write in your books, and some books should be kept pristine, but a textbook is for studying. Mark key thoughts in the margins. If it makes you feel better, use a pencil. Even better, buy a packet of those little stickie tabs and slap one on the page with a short note.
When it's time to review, simply read through your tabs.
If you're renting your textbooks, make sure you understand the rules, or you may have bought yourself a book.
7. Use all the tools provided -- lists, bullets, sidebars.
Use all the tools the author provides -- lists, bullets, sidebars, anything extra in the margins. Authors usually pull out key points for special treatment. They're clues to important information. Use them all. Besides, lists are usually easier to remember.
8. Take notes for practice tests.
Take notes for writing your own practice tests. When you read something you know will show up on a test, write it down in the form of a question. Note the page number beside it so you can check your answers if necessary.
Keep a list of these key questions and you'll have written your own practice test.
9. Read with good posture.
Reading with good posture helps you read longer and stay awake longer. If you're slumped over, your body is working extra hard to breathe and do all the other automatic things it doesn't ask your help with. Give your body a break. Sit in a healthy way and you'll last a lot longer.
As much as I love to read in bed, it puts me to sleep. If reading puts you to sleep, too, don't read lying down. You don't need me to tell you that, I know.
10. Practice, practice, practice.
Reading fast takes practice, practice, practice. Try it when you've got nothing on the line, when you're not pressured with a deadline. Practice when you're reading the newspaper. Like music lessons or learning a new language, practice makes all the difference.
Pretty soon you'll be reading faster without even realizing it.