A reading strategy can be developed based on knowing what information is required from the material in advance of reading it.
Firstly, it's important to reflect on current reading habits and what, if anything, limits the current reading speed:
- How do you read now?
- How did you learn to read as a child?
- What habits limit your reading speed?
A typical reading strategy
- Read the cover - this tells you the target audience and the contents you allow your brain to put the book into its context
- Write an objective for reading the book
- Read the contents, index and references.
- Look up relevant unknown words and acronyms at this point
- Look at every page for about 2 seconds, without using your pacer, making a note of the structure and diagrams. Pay attention and bookmark relevant sections and diagrams
- Re-visit your objective and check it's still valid
- If there are summaries, read these (eg book reviews and abstracts)
- Summarise the book (using your head or a template)
- Speed read any relevant sections or the entire book
- Add to your summary and re-visit / re-read difficult parts of the book
- See if there is anything more to add to the summary
- Have you fulfilled your objectives?
- If yes, then stop
- If not, take a break and do something different
- Repeat the steps
- If your objective is to memorize the material then repeat the process as a review about 10 mins after finishing and again the next day.
Creating Reading Objectives
- Write objectives for reading the material, consider the following:
- Why am I reading this?
- What am I going to use the information for?
- Who else is going to read the material?
- Who else will need the information but won't read it?
- Why do they need to know the information?
- What do I know already?
- What do I need to know more about?
- What don't I need to know?
- Read the introduction - this will usually tell you what the material is for and what's in it. You are beginning to allow your brain to fit the reading material in to context with the rest of your knowledge.
- Read any summary (eg a book review or abstract)
- Preview every page for about 2 seconds, without using your pacer, making a note of the structure and diagrams.
- Be very disciplined - keep going even over any interesting parts.
- Think about your objective and the following questions:
- What don't I need to read?
- Which part is most important?
- Now re-visit your objective and check it still works
- Speed read the sections relevant to your objective.
- Have you fulfilled your objective?
- If yes, stop. If no, take a break and do something different.
- Repeat the steps until the objective has been met.