Knowing what you want to know
The most important thing to know is the goal of your reading - what do you want to know
after reading the text? Once you know this you can examine the text to see whether it is
going to move you towards the goal.
An easy way of doing this is to look at the introduction and the chapter headings. The
introduction should let you know who the book is targeted at and what it seeks to achieve,
while the chapter headings will show an overall view of the structure of the subject.
While you are looking at the text, ask yourself if it is targeted at you, or assumes
too much or too little knowledge. Would other material meet your needs more closely?
Getting the Main Idea:
Getting the main idea in reading is central to effective studying.
You must learn what the author's central idea is, and understand it in your own way.
Every paragraph contains a main idea. Main ideas are perfect for outlining textbooks. Make
it a habit to find the main idea in each paragraph you read.
Extracting Important Details:
Extracting important details mean that you locate in your reading the
basis for main ideas. There is usually one important detail associated with every main
idea. The more important details you can identify, the easier it will be to review for
examinations because you have made a link between an idea and information that supports
it. The more links you can make between details and ideas, as well as ideas
themselves, the more powerful will be the efforts of your study.
The first thing to ask yourself is: Why you are reading the text? Are you reading with
a purpose or just for pleasure? What do you want to know after reading it?
Once you know this, you can examine the text to see whether it is going to move you
towards this goal. An easy way of doing this is to look at the introduction and the
chapter headings. The introduction should let you know whom the book is targeted at, and
what it seeks to achieve. Chapter headings will give you an overall view of the structure
of the subject.
Ask yourself whether the book meets your needs. Ask yourself if it assumes too much or
too little knowledge. If the book weren't ideal, would it be better to find a better one?
Take 1-2 minutes to skim through the article to find the core idea.
Know what is being expressed. Do you need more details? If not, find another article.
Read lightly and flexibly. Know what you need. Slow down to fulfill your purpose,
answering questions that are most important to you. Since very few words carry the
meaning, speed up to pass redundant or useless information.
File important articles, pass them on, or re-cycle the publication.
The most important trick about speed reading is to know what information you want from
a document before you start reading it: if you only want an outline of the issue that the
document discusses, then you can skim the document very quickly and extract only the
essential facts. If you need to understand the real detail of the document, then you need
to read it slowly enough to fully understand it. You will get the greatest time savings
from speed reading by learning to skim excessively detailed documents.