When you need to read a pile of papers very quickly, speed-reading can be a handy skill to have. Speed-reading is where you skim over a text, picking up the essential points. It’s not very useful for learning, although it can help refresh your memory if you’re going over something you’ve studied before.
Speed-reading is useful for the following reasons:
- To give you a quick insight into a topic.
- Enables you to see what sort of information is where.
- Enables you to distinguish between valuable resources and less valuable ones.
- Eliminates duplicate sources.
This is a skill you will use when preparing to write an assignment or to work out your exam notes.
If you’re not used to speed-reading, this is how you can build up this skill:
- Find a peaceful spot. You need silence or white noise because distractions will hamper your concentration.
- Know what you’re looking for. If you want information on making soup, you can skip all the chapters that cover making bread for example.
- Sort into piles. Start by sorting into ‘keep’ and ‘discard’ piles. Then sort the ‘keep’ pile into topic or order of importance.
- Do not reread. If you’re learning, you tend to move backwards and forwards in a text to make sure you get it. Speed-reading isn’t about learning so don’t do this.
- Spot patterns. You’re sorting things out, so think of the big picture. Look for key ideas, bold print and repeated tag-words.
- Keep calm. Speed-reading is a skill and a useful tool but it is just one of the many you will use in learning so if you don’t immediately get it, relax and keep at it.