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Learning—Becoming a Better Reader

The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.
ALVIN TOFFLER

We are confronted by increased volumes of information through e-mails, regular mail, junk mail, books, magazines, etc. Having an ability to sort through information quickly and grasp the essence of the message is a real asset. Here's how you can reduce your reading time and improve your comprehension:

  1. Improve your concentration and focus in one of two ways:

    • Use your hand as a guide to your reading. Put your hand on the page just below what you are reading so you cannot skip to anything below.

    • Use a blank sheet of paper or index card to block the information above the line you are reading. This will prevent you from backtracking and force you to concentrate harder as you read.

  2. Test your understanding of each page by jotting down key ideas. This will force you to think as you are reading and to formulate a model of key ideas in your mind. This process can be done by

    • noting key ideas in written form;

    • drawing a picture that describes the key concept.

  3. For lengthy articles or academic information, resort to skimming. This technique enables you to group key ideas without getting sidetracked by "filler" details. Follow the train of thought of the author by

    • reading the introduction;

    • reading the conclusion;

    • picking key sentences that contain the main message — usually the last sentence of each paragraph;

    • highlighting key ideas with a highlighter marker.

    When you are done, check your understanding by noting key ideas or drawing a picture of what you have learned.


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