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jaketheripper's avatar

Have any flutherites had great success improving their reading skills by way of some special technique or program?

Asked by jaketheripper (2773points) January 5th, 2012

I am going to law school next year, and I feel that my reading skills could use some work. I don’t have, what I consider to be, a satisfactory level of stamina or comprehension when it comes to reading. I know there are lots of programs, techniques, and methods out there that claim to help in these areas, but have you had any success with them?

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7 Answers

fundevogel's avatar

It’s my understanding that those sorts of classes, speed-reading and such gimmicks, are rubbish. The only way to improve reading skills is with practice. If you’re having issues with absorbtion or comprehension you might see about reading with a pencil in hand to underline key points. You’re less likely to glaze over if as you go you’re consciously evaluating and picking out what matters most. I like to make notes in the margins as well. Writing out my thoughts, even in just a few words, helps clarify things for me.

snowberry's avatar

You might want to take a test to see what learning style you have. I am a combination of kinesthetic and auditory. I have to practice it a bit first, then listen, and do it some more. I tend to learn more slowly than many people, but what I do learn, I learn very well, and am very good at it. Here’s one site to help you find out yours: http://www.ldpride.net/learning-style-test.html

Once you figure out your learning style, consider getting a book on learning styles, and see if you can adapt your assignments to how you learn the best. You also might consider consulting with a reading specialist, or take a college course on how to study. A course like this will include everything from time management, to dealing with procrastination, distraction, lighting, sleep, and note taking, besides reading comprehension. I’m sure you’d get good stuff from it. A good course will also include learning styles.

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Sunny2's avatar

I was going to ask about your learning style too. Some people read and the ideas on the page just jump into their brains. They are visual readers. I have to be able to hear what I read. This slows you down your reading If it’s difficult material, I may have to read it aloud to myself. You can test this by humming and reading at the same time. If the text has no meaning for you, you may also be an auditory learner. Taking notes as you read may help you. Using different colored pens to differentiate topics or to underline facts you think you will need to know can help your brain organize the materials you are reading.

Bellatrix's avatar

Also, use active reading skills. What is the author’s main argument? What key points do they present? What evidence? Write down the answers. How does this paper compare with that other one? How does this relate to the textbook? How does this paper help me to respond to the assignment task I have been set?

If you are reading to prepare for your lectures/tutorials – start early. Don’t leave it until the morning. Even now I sometimes have to read things more than once or twice to really get the gist of what the author is saying and the key theories they are discussing. You need to then give your brain time to contemplate the information. It does this even when you are sleeping. It is still working away.

Even if you get through your reading and think “I have no idea what that was about”, when you get to your lecture/tute and the professor begins to explain things, it should start to fall into place. The light bulb will (hopefully) go on and you will think “aaah now that reading makes sense” or/and you can discuss things more in your tutes.

Don’t just read and expect it to stay in there. You need to actively work with the material. Read with purpose. Plus as @snowberry and @Sunny2, understand your own learning style.

If you are a visual learner, draw concept maps or tables or diagrams to help you understand how the various parts of the text you are working with come together. If you are an auditory learner, perhaps read things out loud and record them on your iPod. You can then listen to the key points as you do other tasks. Another good tip, is to try to relate the content to real life experiences. How would this apply in this situation? What would have happened if so and so had done this at work? What elements of the ideas presented in this reading are present in that situation that just happened xxx?

One of the best ways to learn, is to teach. So, after you have read your textbook or a reading, go and explain it to your partner, your mum or even the dog. If you can’t explain the key idea behind the reading and even better, how different readings connect to produce a more detailed picture of the topic under discussion, you probably need to go back and read some more. Focus on the areas you struggled with though.

Most of all, enjoy… learning should be fun.

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