If you deal with long and meaningful texts every day, you need a reading strategy that will help you read faster and understand – and remember – more of what you read.
The following 8-point plan will help you:
1. Get an Overview
Before you rush into your book or your excerpt, you should get a rough overview. Flip through the pages you are about to read: Approximately how much text do you have in front of you? How are the pages structured? Are there graphics, interactive parts, or other special features? Find out what awaits you – this way you avoid surprises and get there faster.
2. Skim Reading/Check the Table of Contents
Next, skim the text or table of contents of the book. Refine the overview that you worked out in step 1 and try to get a first rough feel for content-related topics. What is the text about? What are the key areas of focus? How are these structured? As soon as you know the structure, you will be interrupted less often when reading later and it will be much easier to recognize thematic connections.
After the structure is clear, you move on to your main work: reading. However, not – as usual – word for word, but a little faster and more selective. You scan your text. This means: You hover over your text and try to take in each line with your eyes as quickly as possible. Pay attention to special features such as headings, lists, or other emphasis and pay more attention to these highlights. Dash across each side two to three times in this way, taking a maximum of ten seconds per run – per side.
Do you also know the sentence “One must not write in books.”? Forget him. It’s wrong, stupid, and prevents you from being productive while reading. Books are there so that we can learn from them and become smarter as a result. But we will only do that if we use them as tools. So get in the habit of marking important passages, core statements, or relevant examples when reading. Not later, but right the first time. The best way to do this is to use different colors, draw symbols on the edge and write questions or your own insights directly next to the text.
5. Speed Reading
Fast reading (or: “speed reading”) has been a big trend for several years. I myself gained my first experience with speed reading with the book by Tony Buzan (affiliate link) and have mastered the basic techniques (some of them I will show you in simplified form in this article). However, I advise against expensive courses, annoying seminars, or copied e-books. For quick results, I can recommend the Quick Reader app (no affiliate link).
If you want to read productively, you have to be careful not to be too perfectionistic. That means you don’t have to read everything that is put in front of you. There will always be sentences, paragraphs, or entire chapters in your texts that are irrelevant to you. If you find such a block of text: Stop reading right there and skip to the next starting point. Skip these parts – they just waste your time.
Immediately after reading a larger section, you should write a summary of the author’s most important information and key points. Write down what you learned from the text, in short, concise sentences. Use your own words and present the connections precisely. If you have set your marks (point 4) well, it is often sufficient if you formulate and collect these notes.
After the summary, many students stop working – and in doing so they destroy more than 90 percent of their success. Why? Because the information they have absorbed has not yet been stored in their brains. Prize question: How do you do that? Answer: With action. Therefore, apply what you have read directly by carrying out a small mini learning action. Either come up with your own use case, research some background information, or memorize a quick definition. Calculate something, translate a technical term, or think of a question for the next lecture. The possibilities are endless – what matters is that you act.
To Sum Up
So yeah, apply the tips above, and you’ll be reading quickly and efficiently. Still, it will take some time to learn all the techniques and develop the needed skills. If you don’t have enough time to adequately learn in college due to the overbearing academic load, then consider turning to professionals and saying “write my paper for me cheap.” They will eagerly do the boring assignments for you!