Considerations and Limitations
- When time demands and purpose permits, you can "switch gears" and read at a higher than normal speed in order to absorb the ideas and information in books rapidly.
- This high-level fast reading, however, should not be interpreted as applicable to all types of reading situations.
Causes of Slow Reading Speeds
- Individual variables - intelligence, motivation, physiological, and psychological traits.
- Deficiencies in vocabulary and comprehension levels required for the reading.
- Inflexibility - tendency to read everything the same way regardless of format, content, etc.
- Passivity - failure to become involved with the reading material.
- Unnecessary and habitual regression or re-reading due to lack of concentration.
- Slow reaction time to reading material.
How to Begin
- Determine the purpose of the assignment.
- Preview the selection to determine its difficulty.
- Be flexible. Determine how to read an assignment by its difficulty and purpose.
- Understand that there are many reading speeds and pace yourself.
- Get ready to read. Sit at a desk or table. You may need to shut down your computer if it is on your desk. Mute your cell phone. This will help you avoid the distractions of e-mail and texting. Do not sit on the couch.
- Set a time limit, but be realistic. Look over the number of pages you have to read.
- Concentrate. If you push your reading rate to capacity, you will not have time to think about other things and allow your mind to wonder.
- Try a self-pacing method: Use an index card, ruler, or other straight edge and move it down the page as you read, or move your finger or pencil point down the margin beside the lines you are reading.
- Relax - it promotes concentration.
Tips on How to Read a Difficult Book
- Skim the book first..
- Look at the title page and any sub-titles.
- Look at the table of contents to get a sense of the structure.
- Look for things you understand.
- Start reading.
- Read over difficult material a second time. If you still do not understand it, move on to something else or take a break and come back to it.
- Look for the important words.
- Stop at the end of each paragraph or section and paraphrase it in your own words.
- Read out loud. Hearing what we read is like reading it a second time.
- Meet with your instructor and discuss your questions. Point out the paragraphs you found hardest to understand.
- Find a tutor.
- Use another related text. Concepts are sometimes easier to understand if expressed in a different way.
- Keep a dictionary with you while reading for easy reference, or make sure you have access to an online dictionary.
- Pretend you understand, and then explain it to someone else or even yourself.
- Do NOT get stressed over difficult material.
- Read footnotes, arguments, and references.