Tips for speed-reading

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:

  1. To give you a quick insight into a topic.
  2. Enables you to see what sort of information is where.
  3. Enables you to distinguish between valuable resources and  less valuable ones.
  4. 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:

  1. Find a peaceful spot. You need silence or white noise because distractions will hamper your concentration.
  2. 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.
  3. Sort into piles. Start by sorting into ‘keep’ and ‘discard’ piles. Then sort the ‘keep’ pile into topic or order of importance.
  4. 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.
  5. Spot patterns. You’re sorting things out, so think of the big picture. Look for key ideas, bold print and repeated tag-words.
  6. 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.



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