I’ll never forget my first college Literature class. I thought it would be like the classes I had in high school and early grades. I imagined there would be a few short stories collected in an anthology. So when I got the reading list full of individual novels from the college bookstore, I didn’t worry too much. I decided we would probably use a chapter or two for each. It seemed wasteful for me to buy a whole book for that, but I didn’t complain. When the professor said on Monday, “On Friday we will discuss the first novel” I raised my hand like any good student and asked, “Which chapters?” Boy did my world fall apart when he replied, “All of them.” I realized to get my degree not only was I going to have to do a lot of reading, I was going to have to do it fast. It was in that class that I learned the key to speed reading.
Speed reading for your degree course will be one of the most helpful things you can do. It’s not a hard skill to pick up. It’s just a matter of training your eyes. First, you must read by sight alone. If you have the habit of saying words softly as you read, you’ll have to learn not to do that. Speech takes more time than sight. Your eyes should be able to recognize words as pictures and pick up their meaning very quickly. The next technique is sight portion. Don’t just look at each word and go to the next. Scan one sentence at a time and recognize the important words. You don’t need to pick up all the “ands, ifs or haves” just pick up the major words and thoughts in the sentence.
The final technique involves eye sweep. When going across the page, your eyes will come to the end of the reading line. If you “sweep” your eyes back across the page to the next line, they will pick up stray words from all over the page and the message will become confused. When reading for your college degree course, you will want to get thoughts, not jumbled messages you can’t remember. Better is to learn that when you finish with one sentence your eyes will automatically start and at the beginning of the next line. This will keep the message clear and the process flowing.
Trained eyes know how to pick up word meanings automatically. As you learn to skip the surroundings and pick out important words then reduce your eye sweep so they become clear thoughts your reading speed will increase. There will be a time for lazy summer days looking at every word of a book for pleasure. You can read like that after you get your college degree.