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Reading Skills

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Reading skills are essential if you want to do well in your exams or pieces of coursework which involve essays or reports based upon passages you have to read. The points listed below should help you get the most out of your reading.

Your Surroundings

The environment that surrounds you is very important. You won't get anywhere if you sit somewhere with loads of distractions. Some good places are your bedroom, a library, a quiet coffee shop etc...

A library is particularly useful as you have access to many other books which can help you with your reading. Having a dictionary at hand to help you with any tricky vocabulary will help you understand the text more fully and improve your overall reading skills in the long-term also.

Speed Reading / Skimming

Reading through a huge pile of text books to find a bit of information to add to your project, for example, is hardly practical. Even if you had enough time to do all that reading, your eyes, as well as your brain, would probably explode at the end of it... not a pretty thought! This is where speed reading comes in. It simply involves scanning through the text, picking out important and relevant words.

The Dos and Don'ts of Speed Reading:

  • First of all, decide what you are looking for in the text you're reading.
  • As you skim through the book, don't focus on every word, but group words together.
  • Don't move your lips or read the text aloud when you're reading. If you do this, then you'll be reading every word, which means you probably won't be speed reading!
  • Practice reading for only a few minutes at a time and gradually increase your time, especially if you find it difficult to concentrate when reading.
  • If you're having problems speed reading, there are many books available to help you quicken the pace of your reading. A small selection has been compiled below.

Understanding What You Read

Just reading endless lines of text is not an effective way of learning from it. As with speed reading, decide what you want to get from the material.

At first, focus your attention on understanding what the text is about as a whole, then try learning the necessary details. A good technique to help you remember points is to read through the text, then close the book and write down everything you can remember from it. You can repeat this, adding the extra details you can remember each time. Then, come back to it a few hours later and try to write down what you can remember. You should be pleasantly surprised at the amount of information that's stuck!

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