To be the survival of the fittest for the 21st century, we humans need to be able to process information and retain it to help us get by on a daily basis. The more knowledge you have, the more successful you can be.
How do you go about acquiring such knowledge?
Even though with the advancement of the internet where information can nowadays be digitally accessed through videos and audios, reading is still the prime way of absorbing information in most endeavors – and this is especially true for students.
For the majority of the population, reading seems nothing more than the act of glazing your eyes through a substantial amount of text and hoping to know it by heart. Newsflash: Hoping for it to stick to your head by heart is not good enough.
Let’s face it, rare are those who are actually gifted with a photographic memory.
So in a Darwinian spirit, it’s time to explore how to read better and faster.
Utilize Text Structures for Better Reading
The table of contents is the roadmap.
If it is applicable, looking at the table of contents is an essential element of reading. Why? Because it prevents wasting time with irrelevant information. With the given specific locations of the material, relevant sections are highlighted, targeted, and prioritized. Reading faster is about tempo and focusing only on the minimum amount of words as possible to get the gist of the entire text, and the table of content assists with that.
The introduction and conclusion summarize everything.
Reading carefully the introduction and conclusion is the foundation of most reading strategies. The introduction and conclusion are by far the best summaries of what the content is about. So never neglect to read BOTH to gain a clear understanding.
The first and last sentences say it all.
Particularly for articles heavy on data and facts, reading the first and last sentences of each paragraph will have an accelerating effect on one’s reading pace. First, it determines whether the information provided in the paragraph is important or not, which saves time once again. Second, it cuts through everything that doesn’t lend itself to comprehending the article. Now if the information is deemed important, reading the whole paragraph is recommended; if not, skip it altogether.
The Hot Keywords Technique
One of the challenges when it comes to reading faster is to eliminate all the fluffs from the bare essential.
Ironically, well-written sentences are getting in the way of the heart of the subject; however, your brain is conditioned to treat information better when it is organized.
The hot keywords process is to hack your brain to let it take in only what is needed.
There was a time when the sky of the beautiful city would glow of thousands of stars at night. Ever since these skyscrapers were erected, the lights from all the offices and the street lamps made them all disappear.
Using the hot keywords technique, highlight the words that are relevant to your purpose of reading it in the first. Then, line up the terms one after the other in your head.
Sky. City thousands of starts night. Skyscrapers were erected, light offices street lamps made them disappear.
As a result, you read less than half of the above passage without compromising the comprehension.
This strategy is simply a matter of conditioning your brain to process chopped sentences and make sense of the information without those background words, because it will eventually fill in the gaps on its own.
It is certainly useful whenever you are trying to comprehend the facts and data on texts with little analysis necessary.
The Power of Peripheral Vision
The following approach has the potential to triple your normal reading speed. It uses the power of peripheral vision to increase the reading pace of readers.
For most of us, the way our eyes flow through any given text is in a linear moving straight-line (like pushing through endless walls laid out in front of us), which makes the eyes treat each word separately and the reading inefficient.
Instead, the benefit of the peripheral vision can be extracted by using fixation points. First, select words that are at a fair distance from each other, depicted by the words in bold in the following example:
There was a time when THE sky of the beautiful city WOULD glow of thousands OF stars at night. Ever since THESE skyscrapers were erected, THE lights from all the OFFICES and the street lamps made THEM all disappear.
The goal is to read the line at fixation points. As your eyes jump from a fixation point to another, the words are treated as groups and not individuals, which dramatically cuts down your reading time.
Better reading is about priorities as much as having the right techniques in one’s toolkit.
With all the right practice and strategies at hand, you can increase your reading speed and comprehension today!