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INTRODUCTION - The information explosion of the past 30 years and the large amount of reading required of college students make it necessary to read with maximum efficiency. The following is a discussion and explanation of the most current theories and techniques used in the field of reading instruction.

MECHANICS OF READING - Reading is a two-part process:



READING FLEXIBILITY - This concept can be seen as analogous to driving a standard shift car. In driving a standard car you use different gears at different times, depending on such factors as visibility, weather conditions, terrain, etc. No one, for example, always drives in second gear. With reading, you also want to be able to "shift gears" in response to different reading situations. If you use reading flexibility, you will realize there are four general reading rates, each appropriate to a different purpose.

Ask yourself periodically while reading, "Could I read this faster and still get what I want out of it?"
One of the best ways to assess your familiarity with the material, its difficulty, and your purpose is to pre-read everything you read.

PRE-READING -YOUR KEY TO GREATER READING EFFICIENCY - Most writers (other than fiction) organize their material in a set matter: (1) Introduction, (2) Development, and (3) Conclusion. Pre-reading takes advantage of the set manner by which authors organize their material.

Techniques of Pre-reading:

For long textbook chapters (20 pages or more) pre-reading as described above may take too long. In that case you can (1) divide the chapter into 2 or 3 sections and apply the technique in each section (perhaps on different days) or (2) after reading the introduction, read only the section headings and the first few sentences within each main section, as well as all bold face print. Also read the conclusion.
Pre-reading, by giving you an overview of the material, will allow you to determine the difficulty, your familiarity, and purpose.

DEVELOPING GREATER SPEED - Read for the main ideas. Seek the ideas behind the words. Ask yourself, "What's the point of this paragraph?" as you read. If you read for the main ideas, the details fall into place.
Some speed techniques:

DEVELOPING GREATER COMPREHENSION - Remember, the first sentence of a paragraph usually contains the main idea. The rest of the paragraph generally offers (1) examples, (2) justification or proof, (3) further explanation or details.
Read to understand, NOT to memorize.
Read aggressively. Try to anticipate the author's thoughts. It's rare not to know anything about the topic you read about.
Ask these questions after pre-reading and before your thorough reading:

What information or ideas will you be hunting for as your read?

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Last Updated: 4/29/10