It is important for students to be masters of the art of reading and not only that but how to breeze through the pile of academic materials and books that keep building up each day of lectures that glides by. The ability to speed read effectively is every student’s desire since it’s the open sesame to school success. I’m certainly not hear to talk about something alien to the student. I’d like to just emphasize on what has too often been ignored by students through over familiarity.
There’ll just never be a time where you would read a material for the first time and immediately have grasp of it without repetition. It goes against neuroscience especially since the myelin sheaths (responsible for mastery of new ideas and skills, and the thicker they get the faster the mastery) in the brain thickens as the mind is consistently exposed to the same idea time and time again. This goes too for comprehension in reading. The more you read a topic or subject, the stronger the connection. Haven’t you ever read an article or text for the first time only to marvel at how in your second reading of it, you encountered newer concepts that you never thought existed in your first reading? The comprehension of any subject matter is progressive in nature. After all, repetition holds the key to long and lasting learning, unless of course you are a crammer. With that said, a skill like speed reading can help boost your rate of comprehension. But there is this to be said, the faster you read a text the lower your comprehension the only exception is if you already know the subject. In every topic or subject matter lies the “heart” or “core” of the subject matter. Everything else counts for nothing as far as the exams are concerned. So your aim in reading should be to locate this. But to do you need a methodology and that is precisely what we are about.
The first thing you should do before reading any serious subject matter would be to pre-read the material in question. Quickly scan through the contents, preface, index and appendix and even the bibliography. This gives you an overview of the subject and then you start out knowing a few things about the topic before actually reading it. This enables you to read faster and retain more information.
(2) The meaning might lie ahead
As you begin reading you will comprehend things as you read along but in some places, you won’t the temptation will be to start over again and try to reconnect the missing dots. But you have to resist this. Going backwards and forth will break your train of thoughts and comprehension and leave you more lost than ever ( then it won’t be speed reading anymore since you are breaking your momentum) Reading is like a puzzle sometimes the missing connection to what you’ve read might just lie ahead as you read further along. All of sudden it will just click.
(3) Skim forwards.
Once you think you understand what an author is saying, then you should skim faster ever forward until you come across something you don’t understand. Once that happens slow down a bit and try to make sense of it. Once you’ve done that, then it’s time to move on.
(4) Go backwards only when you get confused
This may seem like contradicting point 2 but hardly. If you ever get confused while reading, then go further along and if it’s still muddling, then it’s homecoming. Go backwards and find your missing link and read on from that point.
(5) Never doubt your instincts
Your mind functions best in an atmosphere of trust and self-belief. Trust your instincts while reading. Sometimes you may be lead to doubt what you have read. If you ever doubt yourself then you’ll topple over like a pack of cards. Once your mind gets all tied up with the conflict of whether you did it right or wrong, this will interrupt your flow.
When you encounter difficulties, try turning every difficult subtopic into a question and try answering. Giving relevant examples in your answers. It will just stick.
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LL.B from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
To get in touch, follow him on social media.