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Making It Stick: Practical Tips to Help You Turn Reading into Learning

Early to Rise writer Brian Tracey reveals some key insights into the practice of reading. Not only is being a good reader mandatory in today’s workplace, Brian explains, it can be one of the single best ways to improve your professional standing no matter what your industry may be. And you may be amazed at how increasing your reading speed and comprehension can alleviate some of the pressures of pursuing your degree.

Reading versus Skimming: There is a Difference
Reading is taking in every word on every page from cover to cover. Skimming is identifying the “meaty” parts and going straight for them. Both techniques have a place in academic pursuit, and the strategy you choose may likely be determined by how much time you have. For example, if you’re beginning a new semester by opening a text for the first time, you may be more inclined to read entire entries. However, if a test is bearing down on you over material you haven’t read, skimming can save you time without sacrificing comprehension.

To increase your speed in both activities, eLearners suggests using a physical pointer–a pen, your finger, etc.–to pass under words as you go along. This practice is very similar to the Braille method and has the potential to increase your speed exponentially.

Finding the Needles in the Haystack
You might not know it, but every book has a ready-made outline of the most important parts just waiting for you to peruse. However, most readers ignore this critical tool and subsequently lessen their ability to find the critical information quickly. The book’s table of contents is very similar to a short synopsis of each chapter. Scan the table of contents for a summation of key information. Also, use it to know what parts don’t pertain to your immediate reading goals–skip them to save time and effort.

Other areas of the book that offer a similar sort of emphasis include the appendices and the index. The appendices usually contain tables and charts that boil complicated batches of information into digestible segments. The index is an alphabetized listing of terms and concepts along with corresponding page numbers. Again, to disregard these areas removes a key comprehension strategy from your arsenal.

Tip and Tricks for Maximum Absorption
There have been countless studies performed with the primary goal of finding the best methods for reading and recall. “Speaking of Experts” member and organizational guru Kevin Eikenberry offers some potent advice for becoming the reader that you want to be. Here are some of the highlights:

��� Define Your Goal. Whatever purpose you may be reading for–learning material for a test, familiarizing yourself with notes for a discussion, reading for pleasure–knowing the task at hand can ready your subconscious.
��� Read Selectively. In many instances, not everything in the book will be mandatory for your purposes. Avoiding “filler” material is how many top-notch readers save time and effort.
��� Invest Yourself. Augment your reading efforts with simple note-taking or reciting. Without allowing it to interfere, these activities make the information a part of your learning processes.
��� Perform Follow-up. Applying what you’ve read is an accurate gauge of how well you’ve retained the information. Don’t wait to be tested. Write a response or complete a survey based on your reading to increase retention.

Make a solid commitment to increasing your learning capabilities. Dedicate time every day to peruse written materials. It won’t be very long before you should notice a marked improvement in your ability to absorb and retain information.

Early to Rise, The Discipline of Reading
eLearners, Improve Your Reading Speed
Speaking of Experts, 6 Ways to Read More Effectively

Publish date: January 31, 2009