Reading for Memory

Like it or loathe it, you will find that you are asked to read an enormous amount of material during your time at University. You'll also have the sometimes challenging task of working out for yourself which bits of this material are relevant to the particular task or subject area that you are currently working on, and which are not.

In order to get the most out of any text, you need to be ready to adopt a range of different reading strategies depending upon the task at hand and the amount of time you have available to complete it. There is no magic formula to become a faster and more efficient reader, but there are a number of techniques that you can practise that will, over time, help to increase your reading speed and the quality of your reading.

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Preview and Review

There are a number of ways you can narrow the focus of your reading to ensure that you get everything you need out of a text. The preview and review technique is one of the most effective ways to read strategically and with purpose. Follow these steps to create your own reading plan:

1. Read the overview material (intro / abstract / index/ contents)
2. Preview every page for about 2 seconds, thinking about objectives and the following questions:

  • What don’t I need to read?
  • Which part is most important?

3. Make a note of important pages to return to
4. Now revisit your objective and check it’s still what you need from the material, and set further questions if needed.
5. Read the sections relevant to your objective and make notes.
6. Have you fulfilled your objective? If yes, then stop. If not, take a break and do something different (preferably overnight) before repeating the steps.

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