Effective reading is a skill that some people never develop while others can only slowly pull the necessary information from a text. Both circumstances make education a difficult and discouraging prospect. If you are one of those in this situation, these four tips will improve your ability to learn quickly when reading.
Know Your Purpose
Before beginning to read, consider why you are reading it at all. What is the subject? What are some main ideas? This might seem like pieces of information it is impossible to know, but all it only requires some careful skimming.
In books, an easy way to establish a mental outline that the book will fill in by examining the title and the names of chapters. The title of the book is your subject, and the chapters show a general structure for the point the author will be attempting to convey.
Shorter works have roughly the same information in the first sentence of each paragraph. Briefly looking at each will give you an idea of the information that you need to retain.
Practice Active Reading
Many readers will begin a page and only realize once they have finished that the do not remember a single thing they read. To avoid this, keep yourself engaged in what you are reading.
If what you are reading belongs to you, reading actively should take the form of highlighting and write in the margins. Ask yourself questions, make observations and highlight what matters. A word of caution, though, is to be careful not to use that highlighter too much. It does no good if the majority of the text has the same bright coloring.
If it is not your property, simply take what notes you want on a separate piece of paper. The same principles as writing in the book hold true here, only without the highlighters.
Reflect On What You Read
Make sure after reading that you are engaged in an active analysis in order to assist in retaining the information. Check your emotional responses and analyze what strong feelings you might have. Write down your reactions immediately after you read the text, then again later, perhaps 24 hours later if at all possible.
This is also the point when you should analyze why the reading was relevant to whatever class or task requires you to read it. That is of vital import.