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Read (and Study) 3x Faster With These 5 Techniques

edited September 2013 in 300 Hours
imageRead (and Study) 3x Faster With These 5 Techniques

By Sophie,  Regular Contributor . Check out her  previous posts  to learn how to optimise your life and ace the CFA exams in 18 months, even with a full-time job. She can be found lurking (very...

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  • I'm a graduate student in the cognitive area of psychology; specifically, some of my work deals with reading and speech comprehension. All I can say is that most of the advice you gave above is not true:
    1. Backtracking (or regressing your eyes to previously read words) is often a sign that the reader missed something in the text. Backtracking is seen when you've skimmed over a word that is new to you, for instance. Although there are studies which show that good readers perform fewer eye regressions, not performing them is not a bad thing. If a poor reader does not perform backtracking, this means that they decide not correct mistakes in comprehension!!

    2. Speed reading. Yes, good readers read faster, but it really depends on the text. Most evidence points out that if you have a difficult text material to process, take your time. If you are a good reader, it is fine to speed read a NYT article or novel, but if you speed-read with textbooks, expect your comprehension to drop significantly.

    About the rest of the advice, I don't know if it work or not. Vocalizing words probably slows down reading, but let's be honest, reading fast at the expense of comprehending the material is not worth it.
  • ZeeZee Charterholder London - UKPosts: 1,550 Sr Partner
    Hi @stassajin

    On backtracking, I think there is a difference between doing a double-take to properly digest what you just read, and the other thing that commonly happens when I study for the CFA, which is me aimlessly reading the same sentence over and over again without really understanding anything.

    The result is that I can be stuck on a page for literally hours - so called 'studying'.

    So recognising this when it happens and consciously getting a move on helps my study velocity...
  • sansinsansin Kolkata; IndiaPosts: 1 Associate
    Very nice article. I could not stop myself from registering and commenting on this.

    Thanks for the application also.
  • Hi @Sansin, thanks! And welcome to the community :)
  • DigitalWizardDigitalWizard New EnglandPosts: 30 Sr Associate
    I could read the article in 45 seconds, then using spreed, I can do it 20 seconds. At 3000 wpm I could "read" the CFA curriculum in 5 hours. NOT SKIMMING, as that is dangerous and you might miss a word (like the word "not" is so small yet changes a whole idea). Speed reading every word is only possible by not sub-vocalizing and then by seeing larger "chunks" as you read. It is entirely possible for us normal people who practice speed reading to grab a new story and keep more than 80%-90% comprehension as you have the entire book still fresh in your mind from only 60mins of reading it. It is a skill that requires constant practice to keep up. CFA material is NOT the same. I still must chug at 200-600 wpm to digest the topics and do the problems, etc no shortcut to understand new complex educational material. However, when reviewing already covered material I can zoom right to where I don't understand and then slow down to give that time to think and connect the topics. Real speed reading is highly recommended. @stassajin I am sure you can come across papers that support what I have said. As well, most of what Sophie was trying to get at is valid with a few caveats of understanding what she is getting at, and when to use which of her numbered techniques. ( like don't skim when you need to read the material, minimize unnecessary backtracking when you should instead get fresh air and stop "zoning out".) btw, A good reader that just pronounces the words fast is different from a real speed reader who breaks through the glass ceiling of just sub-vocalizing quickly. It goes so far as the very talented speed readers can really read by glancing down the page or two at a time and recognizing all the words and sentences as symbols with meaning, understanding the page in fractions of a second. I wish I was better and more consistent but the technique comes in handy. While it may not be for everyone, it should be taught as part of how to read shortly after a child can read story books accurately without stopping to sound out words. Great Article Sophie, as usual! I love speed reading and try to teach the principles to those around me.
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