How to read your textbooks quickly and still get an A

It’s time that we all admit it – books can be pretty boring, especially those ones listed on your endless third year reading list…

C’mon seriously…where do the teachers even find these long and tedious texts?!

Sometimes we’d rather to listen to audiobooks as we go about our days, but you can’t get audio versions of your class textbooks, and even if you did, it wouldn’t exactly be what you’d call engaging. Saying that, there’s still a heap of fictional books that don’t quite have the right narrative for audiobook narration, and plus, there will always be those days when you simply want to read.

But when it comes to reading for academic purposes, 12-hour stints of reading really ARE NOT the one.

Now, you probably think this post is about an unknown but effective way of speed reading. It isn’t.

Instead, this post will cover three different methods for reading your books effectively and fast. Try them out and these tips could prove to be your saviour in the midst of heavy exams, allowing you to maintain your grades, your social life, and your valuable sanity, at the same time.

1. Speed reading…

The idea of speed reading is simple – just read it really fast!

If it takes you two minutes to read a page, make it one minute.

There are all sorts of funny ways to do it – from doing a zig-zag to doing an infinity symbol while reading.

For the sake of this post, we’ll just cover the basics.

While most speedreaders will suggest the need to remove sub-vocalization (the voice in your head) in order to speed things up, we would advise you to keep it.

As much as we want to get this type of reading over with, we might as well try to enjoy it.

Here’s what to do:

1. Get a pen
2. Drag it along as you read
3. Once you get used to it, let the pen lead the way
4. Move the pen at the pace you can keep up with but faster than your ordinary speed
5. Pace yourself from normal, fast to fastest
6. Do it as a cycle (it gives you time to rest)

2. Photo reading

We hear ya – what the heck is it?? Allow us to explain…

Photo reading is the process of reading and flipping pages at around a page per second.

While this may seem a little crazy, it actually taps into our subconscious minds. So instead of just reading word for word, you use your photographic memory to scan an entire page at a time.

The main drawback? It’s hard to know whether you’ve actually absorbed anything…but considering that the Learning Strategies Corporation reports a 96 percent success rate for photo reading techniques, we’d say it’s definitely worth a shot! What do you have to lose?

The results of this technique only shows later on when you have to apply it. Your subconscious memory will draw from what you have read.

3. Smart reading

This is our favourite technique by far.

The question to ask yourself prior to using this method is: “What is the one thing you want to get out of this book?”

Your teacher obviously highlighted this book for a reason, so you need to be laser-focused on exactly what you need to get out of it.

So, with this in mind, here’s an overview of the best points to read:

1. The cover (front & back)
2. If it’s a hardcover, the entire jacket
3. The table of contents
4. The first chapter
5. The final chapter

After reading all of this, you’ll get a good idea of how the book’s laid out and what it’s all about.

Now, pick one chapter you’d like to read comprehensively – you should be aware of your course material (if not – hate to break it to you…but you’re probably in trouble!) as well as the general topic of your exam or coursework, so look at the contents as a whole and make your one choice count!

This chapter is, after all, the reason you were led to this book – it’s what some might call the ‘golden nugget’ of detail.

There might be a voice in your head that says that if you buy a book, you have to read it cover to cover. Not true. Those are just rules made up by someone you didn’t know. If you have an exam on the American Civil Rights movement from 1954 to 1960, but your textbook covers 1954 to 1968, what would be the point wasting valuable brain juices on the years you ain’t gonna cover?!

If you’re a book lover, neglecting those final chapters can seem like a cardinal sin, but it’s about being efficient and honing in on the points that really matter. After all, science has shown that overloading your brain with information before an exam is an ineffective study study technique, since it doesn’t give you enough time to tranfer knowledge from your short- to long-term memory store. Ever heard of ‘in one ear and out the other’? Because that really does happen when you try to cram it all in.

Unless you intend to sell the book after reading it, you can read one section before revisiting the entire thing later on.

The best thing about these reading tactics? The time you’ve saved by reading one book quickly –  yet smartly – can now be used to read another in the same way. Heck, maybe you could manage three, or even four!

These are all very clever, effective, and time-efficient ways to read a book and soak up that crucial information. Instead of digging up your entire backyard to try and find gold, you could just use a metal detector and then dig deep to get it, saving your precious lawn, as well as your time and money!

Books are the most versatile knowledge resource that have ever been created. The fact that hundreds of years of experience can be condensed into neat little stacks of paper, which can then be consumed for less than $20 in less than six hours, speaks volumes about how fortunate we are to learn from those who lived before us.

We are of course living in the ‘Information Age‘. The only thing left for us to do is to seek it out and read it.

This article was written by Ben Sim from iPrice Group.

Image via Unsplash

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