Reading Efficiently

by David Barker

Comprehension and recall

Understanding what you read, memorising what you need to, and then recalling the information, are as important as your reading speed. Below are some tips for improving comprehension and recall.

  • Read with a purpose: before you read anything, stop to think about why you are reading it.
  • Tune in: focus your mind on the subject of the item to be read. Ask yourself a few questions:
  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • What do I hope to learn from reading this?
  • What specific questions do I hope to be able to answer?
  • Preview: always preview the reading material, whether it is a short article, or a full length book. Previewing involves quickly looking at the structure of the item, reading information about the author, looking at introductions and conclusions and so on. At the end of a preview, you should have a good feel for the entire item, which will help when you read it in more detail. In some cases, you may find that you achieve your goals through the preview and do not have to read further.
  • Make notes. The act of making notes about what you are reading reinforces the learning experience. Consider using the Mind Map® technique.
  • Review: when you have finished the reading assignment, review what you have learnt. Did you achieve your goals and get your questions answered? Look at your notes. Look at your notes again after 24 hours. And again after seven days. And again after a month. This repetition will ensure that the information is committed to memory.