There are various effecting reading techniques you can use to improve your “uptake” from reading. Below we present 9 effective reading techniques.
1 – Have a conversation with the author
One of the effective reading techniques is an imaginary conversation with the author. Try to see reading as a conversation between you and the author. Listen, make suggestions, pose questions and ask for clarifications. This will enhance your concentration and improve the retention of new information.
You can even take this step further and not just imagine the conversation, you can also imagine the author. Make him/her funny looking or a very unusual looking character. Our mind remembers such things better than ordinary things.
This will make your learning more active and will keep you alert. Write down your suggestions, questions and clarifications. This will help you to develop your own viewpoint.
2 – Prepare test questions
As you study, write down possible examination or test questions and the page where you can find an answer. This makes you an active learner as well as gives you a list of questions that you can use to test yourself on an ongoing basis and prior to examination. You can use this reading technique for mastering a skill necessary for your career as well.
3 – Read out aloud and walk around the room
When we see and hear information, we understand it easier and retain it better. You can combine reading out loud with walking around while reading. This will help you stay more alert and more involved.
4 – Link information
Another effective reading technique is linking information. Try to link information within a study module (subject or section). Also try to link information with other study modules. Purposeful creation of such links improves retention and enhances understanding.
5 – Find answers
As you study, there may be parts of the material that you will not be able to understand immediately. If you feel you cannot understand it even after studying it few times – get help. Do not wait for the final few days before your exam.
6 – Draw mind maps
Some students find it very helpful to draw mind maps as they read a chapter or section. This allows them to have a “big picture” of the chapter in a way which is easier to remember. You can make each mind map unique so your mind maps are easier to remember. For example, you can use images relevant to the concepts you are studying. Use your imagination.
Drawing mind maps also makes you an active learner because you are doing something with information rather than just reading it. This, as always, enhances concentration and retention. It is important part of mastering reading.
7 – Form mental images
As you are reading, make sure you imagine what the author is trying to communicate. Mental pictures automatically formed in our minds and differ from one person to another. Images that appear are unique to every individual and can resemble a movie or power point slides, as an example. Try to enhance the kind of mental pictures that you experience while reading. This will improve both concentration and retention.
8 – Look for the main ideas
Yet another very effective reading technique is to focus on the main ideas. It involves identifying and absorbing the main ideas before going into details. For example, you can start by reading a summary of the chapter before reading the chapter itself.
In the text itself, the main ideas are usually expressed in the first sentence of the paragraph. The main idea of the paragraph is the main point the author is trying to get across. For example, in this particular paragraph, the main idea is to “look for the main ideas” while reading.
9 – Review, review, review
Finally, you need to retain new information. To ensure prolonged retention of new information, you need to revise information you learned. Otherwise you will have to relearn it.
According to some experts, revision should be done within the first 24 hours, than within 7, 21 and 31 days after the first encounter with the information. Thereafter, revise information every 30 days or, better, every 7-14 days. Every subsequent revision becomes progressively shorter.
As you can see from the above, the techniques recommended for effective reading are very simple and intuitive. Yet all of them are very effective and will certainly help you, if followed correctly.
In mastering effective reading, remember to be alert, vary your approaches, learn what works and does not work for you and focus on the core before going into details. Don’t settle for ineffective reading. With the amount of information that we need to intake on a daily basis, ineffective reading is a luxury you cannot afford.