Sunday, 12 October 2008

How to read efficiently?

Efficiency in reading means to read faster and at the same time to understand more.

Concentration is a fundamental factor, which means you must provide your environment of reading good enough that you be able to concentrate on what you are reading e.g. lightening of the room, your seat should be adjusted properly and the book should be flat on desk.

On the other hand, you should be aware of distractions and try to eliminate them as much as possible e.g. clean your desk, turn your mobile off, find a quiet place and make sure you're comfortable before reading.

Having said that you can study at a noisy place as well as long as you make enough efforts to focus and concentrate, so if you can go to a more quiet place and eliminate distractions why not doing so?!


1) Read slowly
Many people think if they read slowly they understand better which is a completely wrong belief. Reading slowly is inefficient and has no effect on comprehension.

2) Read a sentence/paragraph then go back read it again
This method is called regression. Although this method improves the comprehension 3-7 percent, but it's also inefficient. Eliminate regression and your reading speed will rise from the average of 250 wpm (words per minute) to 450 wpm.

3) Skim-Read
Skim reading is one of the most efficient methods of reading. It improves the speed and comprehension both. Using this technique will improve the speed of reading up to 80% without lowering your comprehension.

How to Skim-Read:

In normal reading, the eyes make small & swift movements between groups of words and pause briefly on each group but skim-read is different as following:

  • Before reading a book or a text, if it has a introduction, conclusion, index or picture, read these first to understand the topic and choose what you want to read.
  • Enlarge the groups of words to see and read, then accelerate the move from one group to the other.
  • Visualize what you read and try to associate and complete the picture in your mind as you read on.
  • Review what you read using the following technique.

Improving memory:

Memory is very strong after a few minutes but nearly 80% is lost after 24 hours! So, if you spend 5 hours today and read a book, you will forget 80% of what you read tomorrow after 24 hours!

So what can we do to improve it?

We must review what we read to minimize the lost and maximize the memory. A technique is as following:

  1. Study for 60 minutes (1h)
  2. Review for 6 minutes
  3. After 1 day, review what you read again for 6 minutes
  4. After 1 week, review what you read again for 6 minutes

The reviewing process takes about 1/10 of the time spent on what you read but it improves the memory dramatically.

4) Skim-Read PLUS

This method is highly helpful to stregthen the comprehension of reading.

In this technique you do all you did for skim-read method but also you:

  • Take time to think about what you read and analyze it
  • Take time to discuss about the subject in a forum, meeting or with friends
  • Take time to teach what you learned to a person who is interested
  • Take time to write an abstract about what you learned

When you teach, think, analyze and discuss about a topic, your comprehension about that topic gets increased dramatically.

5) Associated Reading

When you read, associate what you read with a real life scenario. This is an excellent method to learn that lasts longer. The real life scenario or picture does not need to be fully relevant to the topic.


Practice and practice to master this skill

Good luck!

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