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3 Effective Ways to Read Faster and Retain More

What’s the benefit of speed-reading if you forget everything just as fast as you read it? Even worse, reading a 50-page chapter in 10 minutes, while seemingly impressive, is useless if you don’t really understand any of it. I mean, have you ever speed-read the Harry Potter books? All I got out of it was there was someone named Harry Potter. The point is, you don’t want to be a speed-reader, you want to be a power-reader. Here’s how to do it:

Preview Like a Boss

If you want to increase comprehension, your first step is to get the gist of what you’re about to read. Think of it as a teaser to a film coming out soon. Yeah, you want to see the whole thing but, man, that teaser really sold you on the whole shebang. You can go about previewing in a few ways. One way is to fully read the first two paragraphs, then the first sentence of each following paragraph, and finally the complete final two paragraphs of the section or chapter. Another method is to skim the section for anything that stands out and read the surrounding sentences.  Previewing that dense chapter in your Immunology textbook before buckling down to read it properly will improve your absorption of the material to come. If you want someone more authoritative to tell you that this is standard practice in power-readers, listen to Bill Cosby. Who doesn’t agree with Bill Cosby? No one. That’s the answer. Wasn’t even a rhetorical question.

Find a Place to Concentrate

Distractions are…distracting, especially when you’re trying to read. A lot of people slow down because something else catches their attention. Like that shiny dot on the wall….

Anyway, if you want to power-read, you need to be completely focused on the material. If you find yourself drifting off, just preview for now and come back that section after a short break. Besides, it’s not like that shiny dot will be back—hold on a second.

Pay Attention to the Info – Not Just the Words

What makes most people read slowly is focusing on each word individually. Clump words together to read faster. To be a grammatically correct sentence, many words are included that aren’t crucial to conveying the actual idea, so group the words that matter. I mean, has “the” been the answer to any clinical medicine exam? Unless the patient’s name is “The,” then, yeah, maybe.

Finally, if you really want to improve your speed and retention, you need to practice. Start with light reading material. Preferably something you like such as a certain series starring Harry Potter. I always forget the name of it. Time yourself and test your recall of the information covered. Once you reach your target speed, begin testing yourself with more complex readings.  You want to make sure your comprehension improves too! So, if by the end of the last Harry Potter book, you can’t tell me whether [spoiler redacted] or [spoiler redacted] died on page 453, then you need to start over.

If you need more study tips, visit the Education Department.

Have any tips that worked for you? Post in the comments!

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