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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Readers
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - February 8th, 2019
7 Habits of Highly Effective Readers
1. Effective readers have adaptable reading strategies that match different reading tasks.
The demands of the reading process change depending upon the type of reading you do. You can breeze through the stories and articles that are fun, compelling and full of all the interesting things that you love! Then there is the reading for detail that comes from important documents such as legal or financial papers and articles for work or for school.
Effective readers know they can’t take the same approach to reading a difficult textbook that they would use for reading a magazine article or newspaper. An awareness of the reading task that lies ahead helps effective readers take steps to make their reading as efficient as possible.
2. Effective readers control time, place, and atmosphere to suit the type of reading task they face.
You may be able to read your favorite magazine or an exciting novel while you are lounging in an easy chair or lying on your bed. But the same settings can be disastrous if you are trying to read a tough chapter in your chemistry textbook, pick a working setting to do your reading work, not a recreational or casual setting.
The same is true for controlling time. Do as much of your reading as you can during daylight hours. Also, pay attention to sequencing your reading assignments. If you need to do reading in three different textbooks, start with the toughest and finish with the easiest. Don’t put off the hardest reading to the time when you are likely to be most fatigued.
3. Effective readers spend some time previewing the material before they begin reading it.
Always preview your reading material. Previewing a chapter has the same effect as turning on the lights briefly in a room. So much of your reading efficiency is based on being able to predict where the material is headed, in seeing its overall structure, and in using dozens of other clues to begin the process of relating the prior knowledge you have on the subject to what you are about to read. By spending 5 to 10 minutes in a methodical preview of the chapter, you will be able to do the actual reading with greater comprehension and at a faster reading rate.
Previewing should focus on several elements that are common to almost all textbook chapters: chapter title, outlines, summaries, conclusions, headings, pictures, graphs, tables and end of chapter questions.
4. Effective readers know their limitations of concentration and divide chapters into manageable groupings.
It is a rare person indeed who can concentrate fully on a tough reading assignment for the 45 minutes or an hour that is required to read it. As you preview the chapter, note its overall length, and choose a couple of stopping points–ideally where the chapter moves from one main point to another–and put a post-it note or book mark at that point. Try to break up the reading into 15-20 minute blocks. When you reach a stopping point, take a few minutes break, get up and stretch, or find some other brief diversion to let your mind relax. Then go back and read the next block. Your overall comprehension will be much better.
5. Effective readers improve their comprehension by trying to read faster.
Reading faster can lead to better comprehension. We often fall into patterns of mental activity that are well below our peak ability.
If we read at a lazy, habitual pace, our mind isn’t challenged, and it is easier for it to drift away from the task of reading and focus instead on what’s going on around us or on some nagging thought that keeps asserting itself on our attention. If, on the other hand, we consciously try to increase our rate to the point that our mind stays focused on reading, we should be doing a better job and doing it much more efficiently.
A quick warning: this strategy will work with much of the reading that you have to do, but not all of it. It won’t work and shouldn’t be used when you are reading highly technical material or material with which you have little experience. Such reading is already demanding enough to require your brain to stay focused, and you won’t gain anything by picking up the pace of reading.
6. Effective readers interact with the text by highlighting important information.
Highlighting important details in the text is a good idea for a couple of reasons. The most obvious and practical reason is that it helps us distill the information down into its most important ideas and leaves us with material that we can review quickly and efficiently.Highlighting makes us a better reader and improves our comprehension. Highlighting forces us to think actively and make critical judgments. It keeps us from being passive readers, like those times when our brain goes on auto-pilot, our eyes keep moving across the page.
7. Effective textbook readers use recitation to reinforce what they have just read.
Many readers are so relieved when they finish the last page of a grueling chapter that they immediately close the book and go on to more pleasant activities. But investing just five more minutes in a process called recitation can save them time and effort later on.
Recitation describes the process of summarizing aloud the key points you just read in the chapter. Recitation is a powerful tool that can help us move the information into a category of memory that is much more permanent.
All in all, effective reading is a great BRAIN process, training your mind for taking in information and formulating ideas and opinions. It is a shaper of life, because you find that the new ideas and material can actually be a springboard to your BEST future. Also, it ensures that you are wisely walking ahead (especially with reading that pesky small print–do it!).
What are your favorite effective reading tips? Share with us in the comments!