As a busy college student, you’re always looking for ways to save time. You try to multitask, you prioritize your tasks, and you even skip lunch to get more work done. But despite all your efforts, you still feel like you’re running out of time. One thing that takes up a lot of your time is reading. You have to read for class, for exams, and even for leisure. But reading takes so long! You feel like you’re reading at a snail’s pace and it’s frustrating. You’ve tried skimming, you’ve tried highlighting, and you’ve even tried reading out loud, but nothing seems to work. Is there a way to improve your reading speed and save time?
The good news is that there are a few simple strategies you can use to improve your reading speed. In this blog post, we’ll go over how to improve reading speed, including tips on how to scan, skim, and speed read. By the end, you’ll have the tools you need to read faster and get through your reading list in no time.
What’s holding you back?
Before we dive into specific strategies for improving your reading speed, let’s first understand what might be holding you back. There are a few common factors that can slow down your reading speed:
- Lack of focus: If you’re reading while doing something else, or if you’re easily distracted, it’s going to take you longer to get through a text.
- Lack of motivation: If you’re not interested in the material, it’s going to be harder to focus and you’ll read slower.
- Difficulty understanding the material: If you’re reading something that’s too difficult, you’ll spend more time trying to understand it and less time actually reading.
Scanning: The fastest way to get the gist
Scanning is a quick and easy way to get an overview of a text. When you scan, you’re not reading every word, but rather looking for specific information or keywords. Here’s how to do it:
- Determine what you’re looking for: Are you trying to find a specific piece of information, like a date or a name? Or are you just trying to get a general sense of the text?
- Look for keywords: Keywords are the most important words in a text and they’ll help you understand the main idea. Look for words like “because,” “however,” “therefore,” “despite,” and “but,” as they’ll give you a sense of the text’s structure and help you understand the relationship between ideas.
- Skim the text: Once you’ve identified the keywords, skim the text to get a general sense of what it’s about. Look for headings and subheadings, as they’ll give you an idea of the main points the text covers.
- Look for specific information: If you’re looking for specific information, like a date or a name, use your finger to follow the text as you scan. This will help you focus and find the information more quickly.
Scanning is a great way to quickly get the gist of a text and determine whether it’s worth reading in more depth.
Skimming: A little more in-depth
Skimming is a slightly more in-depth version of scanning. When you skim, you’re still not reading every word, but you’re paying more attention to the structure and main points of the text. Here’s how to do it:
- Determine what you want to get out of the text: Are you looking for specific information, or are you just trying to get a general understanding of the material?
- Look for headings and subheadings: Headings and subheadings give you an idea of the main points the text covers and can help you get a sense of the text’s structure.
- Read the first and last sentences of each paragraph: The first and last sentences of each paragraph often contain the main points and can give you a good sense of what the paragraph is about.
- Look for bold or italicized words: These words often highlight important information and can help you understand the text’s main points.
- Take note of any charts or graphs: Charts and graphs can provide important information and can be easier to understand than reading text.
Skimming is a good way to get a general understanding of a text and can be especially useful if you don’t have a lot of time to read in depth.
Speed reading: The most in-depth approach
If you want to read a text in more depth, speed reading might be the best approach. Speed reading is all about increasing your reading speed while still understanding the material. Here are a few tips to help you speed read:
- Use a pacer: A pacer is a tool, like a finger or a pen, that you use to guide your eyes as you read. This helps you focus and keep your place as you read.
- Don’t pronounce each word: When we read, we often pronounce each word in our head, which slows down our reading speed. Instead, try to read groups of words at a time.
- Don’t reread: If you come across a word you don’t know, try to guess its meaning based on the context. This will help you keep your pace and avoid the temptation to go back and reread.
- Take breaks: Reading for long periods of time can be tiring, so it’s important to take breaks to rest your eyes and mind.
Speed reading takes some practice, but with a little bit of effort, you can significantly increase your reading speed and get through texts more quickly.
Practice makes perfect
Improving your reading speed takes time and practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. So don’t be afraid to try out different strategies and see what works best for you. With a little bit of effort, you can significantly improve your reading speed and get through your reading list in no time.
Additional tips for improving reading speed
In addition to the strategies we’ve discussed so far, there are a few more things you can try to improve your reading speed:
- Preview the text: Before you start reading, take a few minutes to preview the text. Look at the headings and subheadings, the charts and graphs, and any other visual aids. This will give you an idea of what the text is about and help you focus as you read.
- Set a goal: Having a goal can help you stay motivated and focused as you read. For example, you might set a goal to read a certain number of pages in a certain amount of time.
- Use a timer: Using a timer can help you stay on track and keep your pace. Set a timer for a certain amount of time, and see how much you can read in that time. Then, try to beat your own record.
- Take notes: Taking notes can help you remember what you’ve read and can also help you focus as you read. Try summarizing each paragraph in a sentence or two, or jot down any key points that stand out.
- Practice regularly: The more you practice reading, the better you’ll get. So try to make reading a regular part of your routine.
By implementing these strategies and tips, you can significantly improve your reading speed and get through your reading list more efficiently.