How to Speed Read

These last couple of weeks have been homework-free for me. As much as I’d like to think that it’s because I did it all in advance, that’s not true. I’ve been slacking off quite a lot, and the 50-page articles that need to be read are finally catching up with me. After calculating how much time I need to read through everything carefully I realized it may be physically impossible after such a long break. So I figured now is the time to learn about some speed reading techniques and share them with you guys.

Speed reading: what is it and how is it learned?

I can’t how many times I’ve tried skimming through long texts, thinking I’m a pro at speed reading and not understanding why it’s so hard for others to learn. Well, it turned out I wasn’t speed reading at all – I was just looking through words without comprehending what they said, and in the end I didn’t remember anything. I’ll tell you right off the bat that speed reading is a science, and is not easily conquered. It takes knowledge of technique and lots, lots of practice. So there are a couple components to speed reading that need to be mastered: getting rid of sub-vocalization, reading in chunks and getting the big picture. These are the simplest terms I could come up with, but there are tons of articles that talk about it in more detail (see links at the end).

How to Speed Read
1. Getting the big picture

When starting to speed read the text, it’s important to know what the text is about. Spend a couple minutes looking and thinking about the title, some headings, keywords and perhaps footnotes. This will help you get the gist of the main idea and put things together when you start to speed read the text. Jotting down some notes when you get to an important idea is something to consider as well – remembering the material after speed reading it may be incredibly difficult.

2. Chunking

This is not the same as chunking to memorize things, but the general idea is the same – group words together to get through them faster. This also helps with not vocalizing them out loud, by the way, so these two things kind of help each other. If we read word by word and try to get the meaning of each one of them, we won’t get through the text even if we tried. But chunking those words into phrases and looking at the general idea works a bit better.

3. Sub-vocalization

When we read (and as you are reading now), we tend to pronounce every word in our head. Read this now, are you hearing your mind saying these words out loud? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. The deal with sub-vocalization is that it slows us down immensely, and more often than not doesn’t even help with comprehending the material. To get started of the righteous path to speed reading, we need to get rid of that little voice.
It’s important to remember, though, that you can’t speed read through every text. Some texts, like novels and poetry, are not made to be skimmed through. I found that this technique works wonderfully with scientific article – the headings and conclusions are pretty clear to find and understand, and they are all structured pretty much the same way so I know where to look for what I need.

Here are those articles about speed reading I promised earlier:

The Truth About Speed Reading – methods, do’s and don’t’s and some more tips

Scientific Speed Reading: How to read 300% faster in 20 minutes – a great, very detailed guide with techniques and tips

What Speed Do You Read? – some help from Staples!

Speed Reading: Learning to Read More Efficiently – MindTools puts everything together in one place, I read this guide

You Can’t Speed Read Literature – another view on speed reading

Spritz – a wonderful app that breaks down articles word by word for speed reading

Accelerated Speed Reading Trainer – available for both iOS and Android, yay!

Read Quick – Speed Reading for iOS – okay, I love this one.

How do you get through long texts? What do you do to read faster? Share below!

Anti — Study Tip: Netflix Shows to Procrastinate With

Netflix

Who has never binge-watched several seasons of Netflix shows in one night? I can’t say I haven’t, as this is my perfect way of procrastinating, aside from exploring Tumblr and trying to figure out this blogging stuff. TV is a great way to sit down and unwind after a long day, although I do feel very unproductive when there’s lots of homework to do. Nevertheless, you should always allot time for yourself to relax . Here I present to you my most recent Netflix faves, in no particular order.

1. Gilmore Girls.
Yep, I’ve mentioned it in my last post, but I’ve been getting pretty hooked on Gilmore Girls. It seems like such a simple show to watch, with very light drama and not much information to process, and it’s perfect for some crafting background. I can really relate to Rory in her academic pursuits and habits, although I still have some room for improvement.

2. Arrested Development.
My favorite show on Earth, up to maybe the fourth season. From now on, every line and joke from the show is a reference to any life situation. Easy to watch and with clever humor, Arrested Development is my go-to show when I can’t decide on what to watch. Me on any test now:

3. Parks & Rec
Leslie Knope inspires me to achieve great things, period. Also, I would like to have Ron Swanson’s mustache and be literally as positive as Chris Traeger. Let’s enjoy this for a minute (or a few hours!).

4. Orange is the New Black
A little bit more serious and at times quite intense, Orange… is the show I go to when there’s not enough drama going on in my life. At one point I did binge watch a season and a half of it, but then things just kind of died down when things got crazy there. However, I’m still planning on finishing the second season soon. Probably around finals time next quarter.

5. Psych
My little sister and I finished watching 8 seasons of Psych in probably less than 3 months, and that’s during a school year. It seemed like a great show to watch in the evenings, and even she was able to understand the jokes. Now every pineapple reminds me of Psych, somebody please help.

What shows do you guys watch? I’m almost done with Gilmore Girls, need something else as a back-up!!

How to Make a Study Plan

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*My fall quarter starts on September 24th. Professors started posting textbook information, test information, syllabus, etc. on the course websites a couple days, so I thought it would be a good idea to prepare for each class before it starts *

Once you have your textbooks, a little bit of information on the website, and the syllabus, start preparing your study plan for the quarter.

1. Read the course syllabus. Professors know exactly what they will be teaching, how big the workload will be, exam schedules, reading material, etc. Once you read the syllabus, you are already mentally prepared for the class, and it won’t seem as overwhelming on the first day.

** Important information to take away from the syllabus:
– Homework load
– Class schedule, test information
– Retake and make up policy
– Any class- specific information

2. Look up your professor on RateMyProfessorsBy reading other students’ reviews, you can get a preview into what your classes will be like. It’s important not to believe every word you read there, simply because every student has a different (or no) relationship with his professor.

** Info to take away from Ratemyprofessors:
STUDY TIPS. A lot of students write what they’ve done to be successful in the class
– How to professor teaches the class. What materials to use
– Homework/ work load

3. Write down your goals for the course. Whether it’s a specific grade you want to earn or the information you’d like to learn, it’s good to have something to motivate you.

** More info:
– Create a Work Document, a poster or just some random sheet and write down your goals on it
– Hang in somewhere where you’ll see it as a reminder and motivator

4. Note exam dates, reading schedule, etc. Look over the syllabus or a schedule chart, if one is available, and assign yourself pages to read a few weeks ahead. You can always modify this list as the quarter progresses

5. Attend the first few Lectures. Probably the most important thing you could do to prepare for the future classes.

** Info to take away:
– Professor’s teaching style
– Plan a note-taking technique
– What you’ll actually need to read/ do to succeed.
Talk to the professor, ask for tips on how to study for his/her class!!

Small Things That Affect Your Concentration

 

Humans can’t pay full attention to two things at once: it’s a fact! (Source 1, 2, 3). While we think we can do two things at the same time, like doing homework and watching a TV show- we’re actually doing neither.

Thus, when there are distractions around us, we cannot fully focus on our work no matter how hard we try. Small things that we usually don’t think about affect our concentration, but are easy to control:

1. Cell Phone
-put it on silent, out of reach and check only once an hour. It can totally wait and whoever texted you can wait a few minutes.

2. Mess
-It sets the mood. The messier your room, the less organized YOU are! Clean and organize your desk, make your bed, and make a schedule everyday.

3. People
-I’ve found that if I study at home, everyone always bothers and distracts me because they know I’m home and can answer a question, clean something, drive, etc. To avoid the same fate, go to the library! Bring a snack, some tea or coffee and focus!

4. Too many pens
-For those of us who like to color code….let’s use up to 3 colors. The more pens and pencils, staplers and little stickers we have around us, the more distracting they are. Three colors are sufficient enough to mark 1) important terms, 2) explanations, 3)titles (that’s an example, you can do it differently). When there are purple, orange, blue, green, red, yellow, etc. colors, the point of highlighting gets lost- your notebook becomes a rainbow.

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Multitasking

The Pro’s and Con’s of Multitasking.

Big picture: when you’re studying, try to get rid of all distractions. Listening to music, watching TV or texting while studying makes us divide our attention. So in the end, we don’t fully concentrate on either task neither of them gets done 100% well.

Sources: Psych 101; 2

 

Focus

Psych fact: you can only have full focus in one activity. That’s why when you are multitasking, neither of the activities is done perfectly well.

This rule also applies to having background noises/music/movies when studying: you divide your attention between studying and the background stuff and neither of them is done completely.

Also, apparently multitasking is not good for your brain! It affects your memory and attention (see source 1), and levels of stress (source 2)

Sources: 1, 2,
Bonus: how multitasking is actually promoted by today’s technology and how you can get things done faster: 3