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Improving your reading speed

Tips for reading longer texts

  • You don't have to read everything that is on your reading list. Be selective.
  • Try to read in concentrated stretches of an hour maximum.
  • Know what your optimum time for reading is - some people are 'morning people', others are 'late night people'. Don't try to read when you know that you cannot concentrate.
  • Build in rewards for yourself when you finish sections/chapters.
  • Every two or three pages, write a short paraphrase of what you think you have understood so far (writing a paraphrase rather than just copying out of the book will also help you to avoid plagiarism later when you are writing up your essays).
  • Read with a piece of paper and pencil to hand.
  • Only read what is useful.
  • Skim the abstract, introduction and the conclusion first to get a feel¡ng for what the text is all about (this is called 'surveying' the text)
  • Use the index effectively to find the pages you need.
  • Prioritise areas of the text. You don't need to spend an equal amount of time on everything.
  • Remember that it is also useful to look at footnotes and bibliographies.

Tips for improving reading efficiency

  • Sometimes, the faster you read, the more you will understand.
  • Develop good skimming and scanning techniques.
  • Read a lot, including plenty of things at an easier level than your current level of English.
  • Practice focussing on several words at a time, not each word in turn, and try to keep moving forward.
  • Avoid constant use of the dictionary.
  • Remember key words in the text as you go along. Make up mnemonic devices as you go along.
  • Make a quick mind-map as you move forward in your reading.
  • Do not point to words with your finger.
  • Avoid reading the words aloud to yourself as you are reading (this is called vocalisation, and slows down reading speed).