Reading Efficiently

by David Barker

Common questions

  1. What is speed reading, and does it work?
  2. I do not have time to read all the magazines, books, papers, and so on that land on my desk. How can I cope?
  3. Often, having read something, I have very little recall of what I have just read. How can I improve my comprehension and recall?
  4. What is the most efficient way to read a book?

 

1. What is speed reading and does it work?

Speed reading refers to techniques and strategies that allow you to read and understand more in less time. Many speed-reading courses and books focus on speed alone, which, apart from impressing your friends, is not much use. Courses make grandiose claims about very high reading speeds, but until you have paid your money and taken the course, you will not know if that method works for you. The approach taken here is to provide a variety of techniques and strategies that anyone can use, and that will improve both your speed and your comprehension.

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2. I do not have time to read all the magazines, books, papers and so on that land on my desk. How can I cope?

Simply reading faster is not the answer to your problem. Much of the reading that lands on our desks is not relevant and the most effective strategy for dealing with this problem is to be very selective in what you choose to read, and prioritise appropriately.

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3. Often, having read something, I have very little recall of what I have just read. How can I improve my comprehension and recall?

We often tend to read passively – a mechanical process of running our eyes over the words while we think about something else. In order to learn from our reading, we must read actively and with a purpose. Before you start reading, think for a moment about why you are reading that particular item and what you hope to learn from it. Then concentrate while reading, and make notes. When you have finished reading, review whether you achieved what you set out to achieve.

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4. What is the most efficient way to read a book?

Unless you are reading a book to appreciate the author’s use of language and literary style, you will learn most from a book by adopting a structured, multi-step process – think, preview, read and review.

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