Your Study Guides and Strategies starts here!

Resolve to edge in a
little reading every day,
if it is but a single sentence.
If you gain 15 minutes a day,
it will make itself felt
at the end of the year.
Horace Mann 1796 - 1859
American author

Reading and research series

Reading speed & comprehension

Reading rates

  • Each type of reading has a different rate;
    an exciting novel is a quicker read than a text in biology.
  • Text books vary in how well they are written;
    as a consequence some are more difficult to read.
  • Each semester, time yourself reading a chapter
    in each of your text books. See how many pages an hour you can read. Once you have an accurate estimate of your reading rate, you can better plan your reading time and studying time.
  • Test your reading speed

Comprehension

Scan the chapter first.
Identify the sections to which the author devotes the most amount of space. If there are lots of diagrams for a particular concept, then that must also be an important concept. If you're really pressed for time, skip the sections to which the least amount of space is devoted.

Read the first sentence of every paragraph
more carefully than the rest of the paragraph.

  • Take notes on headings and first sentence
    of each paragraph before reading the chapter itself.
    Then close your book and ask yourself what you now know about the subject that you didn't know before you started.
  • Focus on nouns and main propositions in each sentence. Look for the noun-verb combinations, and focus your learning on these.
  • For example, consider the following text:

Classical conditioning is learning that takes place when we come to associate two stimuli in the environment. One of these stimuli triggers a reflexive response. The second stimulus is originally neutral with respect to that response, but after it has been paired with the first stimulus, it comes to trigger the response in its own right.

Rather than read every word, you might decode this text graphically:

Classical conditioning = learning = associating two stimuli
1st stimulus triggers a response
2nd stimulus = originally neutral, but paired with 1st --> triggers response.

Rather than reading and re-reading your text, take notes in this form, so that you've re-written the important parts of the text. Once you have written notes, you don't have to worry about the text itself.


Reading and research series

Reading critically | Pre-reading strategies | SQ3R reading method |
KWL reading method | Marking & underlining | Reading difficult material | Interpretive reading | Reading essays | Reading fiction | Narrator/character types |
Speed and comprehension | Researching on the Internet | Evaluating websites |
Organizing research: computers | Organizing research: note cards

Adapted from "Being a Flexible Reader" by Gail Kluepfel, Rutgers University
Flash exercise by Eric Price, Interactive Media DHA 5341 Fall 2006, Interactive Design, College of Design; Brad Hokanson, faculty, College of Design, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.