How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

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If youd like to improve your reading comprehension, try the SQ3R method. This is an acronym that means: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.

Heres how it works:

Survey Your Text
Prior to reading, take a few moments to scan through your text. Get an overall feeling for how much youre going to read, and how the text is sectioned off. It helps to read through all the headings and any thesis or conclusion statements during this time. This will help you understand the point of the reading prior to beginning.

Question Everything
After surveying your text, ask yourself some questions prior to reading. What questions do you have about the subject matter youre about to read? What does the title of the text suggest? What does the author want to tell you about this subject? Whats the most important information on each page? Asking these types of questions will focus your mind on the text, and will help you pay attention. If you start to daydream, ask more questions and try to answer them.

Reading
As you read, try to find answers to the questions you have. Think through what the author is saying, and try to develop more questions as you read. If you have a lot to read, plan on dividing up the text so you can take adequate breaks. Studies suggest youre more likely to remember the first and last things that you read. So divide up the text and take breaks.

Recite the Text
After reading a chunk of text, take a break and try to recite what youve just read. Try to summarize your reading as best you can. If you have trouble, look back at your reading to see what youve missed. This might take some practice, but pretty soon youll start remember what youve read a bit quicker.

Review
After youre finished reading, review what you just read. Ask yourself the same questions you had in the beginning of the reading, and see if you remember the answers. Think how the reading material fits with your class or assignment. Also think about possible ways you might be tested on the material, and you can best prepare.

Something thats not mentioned in this method is the importance of taking notes. Note taking is very important to help you remember key facts. Just dont get too wrapped up in taking notes without thinking through what youre writing. Take notes on the most important parts of your reading, and something that will help you quickly review what you just read.

How to Proof Your Paper Like a Pro – 8 Proofreading Tips

I used to work as a proofreader.

It wasn’t the most exciting job in the world, but it helped me become proficient at proofreading ads and documents very quickly.

Whenever possible, it’s always best to have someone else review your essay.

However, it’s not always convenient to get someone to edit your paper at the last minute (when most papers get finished).

So here are 8 tips to help you proof your own paper like a professional:

1. Read your paper backward
A surefire way to find misspellings is by reading your essay backward to yourself. This makes every word stand out. And this is a great way to focus on the punctuation of each sentence.

2. Read your essay out loud
One simple way to proof is to read your essay aloud. This will help you focus on the rhythm of your writing, your punctuation, and any glaring errors in your sentence structure. If any sentence sounds confusing, you should revise it.

3. Cut the fat
Eliminate passive verbs whenever possible.

4. Proof in stages
I always proof my papers in stages. This means that I’ll typically plan on proofing my entire paper in a variety of stages. For example: (1) Focus on every word; (2) Focus on punctuation; (3) Focus on subject/verb agreement; (4) Focus on argumentation; (5) Focus on pronouns . . . etc. You get the idea.

5. Pay attention to apostrophes
Examine every word that ends in “s” and ask yourself if an apostrophe belongs there. Remember that apostrophes should never be used to make words plural.

6. Focus your attention on every comma and semicolon
Scan your paper to find every comma and semicolon. Make sure you’re using them properly in the sentence.

7. Proof headers and subheads
You’d be surprised how often headers and subheads get misspelled. This is because most people who are proofing are focusing on the details, and they often miss the big glaring error right in front of them.

8. Proof in the morning
You won’t catch as many errors if you’re proofing right after you’ve finished writing. So take a long break before editing the paper.

Recommended Reading

Top 20 RSS Feed Readers You Should Know About

Now that the school semester just ended, its time to catch up on some reading.

Im a big fan of Google Reader, but there are a bunch of other great RSS readers out there.

Heres a nifty collection of RSS readers you may not know about:

Alertbear
Desktop-based feed reader for Windows.

Alesti
An RSS reader based on Ajax. Very simple, clean interface.

Bloglines
Organize, save, and share all your favorite feeds and its completely free.

Fastladder
Fastladder claims to help you read the most amount of feeds in the shortest time-frame.

Fav.or.it
Allows you aggregate RSS feeds like a typical reader – and allows you to leave comments on blog posts without leaving the site.

FeedDemon
Get your RSS feeds sent directly to your Windows desktop. Requires Microsoft Windows.

Feedreader
A desktop-based feed reader. Its like a feed reader in Microsoft Outlook.

FeedShow
Free online feed reader that lets you save items locally and covert posts to PDF or print format.

GoogleReader
Organize your feeds into folders, share with friends, save your favorites, and add notes to any post you want. My favorite.

GreatNews
It automatically stores all your feeds locally, so you have access to the feeds even if the site is down. It also integrates nicely into Bloglines.com.

GritWire
Its a personal page like Netvibes that has a SpeedFeed Reader application.

MSN Start
A typical personalized page (a la iGoogle) where you can add feeds of your favorite sites.

My Yahoo
A personalized page that allows you to add your RSS feeds.

Netvibes
A clean-lookin personalized page that allows you subscribe to feeds. I have several friends who like using Netvibes because of the sweet interface.

NewsAlloy
A web-based feed reader that is Mobile/PDA enabled.

NewsGator
The site offers a free web-based RSS feed reader – and a desktop version that integrates into Microsoft Office.

Rojo
A simple RSS reader – similar to Google Reader.

Sage
A nice lightweight RSS feed reader extension for Firefox.

Shrook
A free RSS feed reader for your MAC desktop.

Voyage
Visually-appealing RSS feed reader that lets you scroll through feeds with your mouse wheel.

And if you dont know how RSS readers work, heres a great video that shows you the benefits of subscribing to your favorite web content:

Please let me know of any others that I missed.

Ill be glad to add them here.

How to Read Long-Winded Journal Articles Quickly

I recently had to plow through 68 pages of mind-numbing journal articles in less than an hour.

This might sound like plenty of time to you, but trust me – it wasn’t. These articles were boring. I mean really boring. Almost as bad as being forced to listen to Kenny G.

Anyway, I had read some books on speed reading a while back, and one of the methods used to train your eyes to read faster was through quickly scanning text with short sentences.

The idea is that you’ll read faster if your eyes don’t have to move much across the page.

I thought I’d try this theory out on my journal articles and it worked like a charm.

Here’s how I did it:

  • I simply copied all the text from the journal article and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document.
  • I then customized the margins of my word document so that I had 2.5” margins on both the right and left side.
  • I then changed my font to a large, comfortable type (i.e. Calibri font/size 14) so that I only saw about 7 words per line.

After I had done this, I found that I was able to quickly read through the text much faster than before. And for some reason, this made my reading much more palatable.

Another benefit of pasting the text onto a Microsoft Word document is that it allows you to easily make summaries of each article. I deleted all the paragraphs that werent importantand I highlighted the areas that I wanted to review later.

I’m sure there are better ways of speed reading through journal articles, but this hack allowed me to quickly get through my reading and also remember it.

Recommended Reading:
How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

How to Start Remembering Everything You Read

Here are some various strategies to help you start remembering what youre reading:

Write Summaries in Your Textbook
Summarizing your reading causes your mind to comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information better. You’re not just reading information passively, you’re causing your mind to join ideas together so you can condense it down yourself. Write down brief summaries as you read various sections in your textbook.

Say it Out Loud
After reading and writing summaries for about 30 minutes – stop and take a break. Try to recite out loud from memory what you’ve just read. Pretend to give a lecture on what youve read, and do your best to recall what you’ve just summarized. This might be difficult at first, but you’ll get better at it as you keep practicing.

Argue With Your Textbook
Another great way to remember what you’ve read is to start an argument with your textbook. Think critically about everything you’re reading and question concepts that seem foreign to you. Add question marks and underline areas that cause you to question. And make sure to write down questions in your textbook. These are also great questions to pose in class – or to ask your professor during office hours. It shows you’re an active reader.

Create a Mock Essay Exam
After finishing a chapter, write a mock essay exam question about what you’ve just read. And then take 15 to 30 minutes to write a detailed answer to the question from memory. This is a great way to make the information stick.

Record Your Verbal Summaries and Listen

I know this sounds geeky, but I used to record myself summarizing my textbooks. And I would listen to these recordings at night while falling asleep. This is a very easy way to help you memorize a lot of information without even thinking very hard.

The more actively involved you are with your textbook, the more you’ll comprehend and the more interesting you can make your reading experience.

Recommended Reading

Why You Should Talk to Yourself After Studying

The next time you finish studying, Id like for you to give yourself a 5 minute lecture on what you just read.

Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but just give it a try.

You see, one way to help new ideas cement in your mind is to recite them back to yourself.

If you simply read a textbook passively, you will probably remember less than a third of what you should within a few days. And you will probably remember a lot less two months later.

However, if youre actively reading and reciting key concepts back to yourself it will help connect these ideas to your core memory.

And if youre able to attach these new ideas to subjects you already know well, this will help the new ideas stick in your mind much longer – and much easier.

So talk to yourself after youve studied.

Its a great way to test yourself on what you just read. And it will force your mind to remember more and more each time you study.

Recommended Reading

Double Your Reading Speed With These Skimming Strategies

Many commercial speed reading programs are pretty wacky – and scholars question their legitimacy.

Speed Reading is more about skimming than anything else. It means quickly going through the document to get a feel for whats being said.

Its not helpful when reading literature that requires serious thinking, but its definitely a plus when you just need to get a gist of what the text is about.

Here are some helpful tips on speed reading from WikiHow.com.

Read with Your Hand
Smooth, consistent eye motion is essential to speed reading. You can maximize your eyes efficiency by using your hand to guide them. One such method is to simply draw your hand down each page as you read. You can also brush your hand under each line you read, as if you are brushing dust off the lines. Your eyes instinctively follow motion, and the movement of your hand serves to keep your eyes moving constantly forward. Note, however, that many speed reading instruction books warn off using a tracking member in speed reading as it inhibits the process. Try not to become dependent on using your hand or fingers.

Read Blocks of Words
Nearly everyone learned to read word-by-word or even letter-by-letter, but once you know the language, thats not the most efficient method of reading. Not every word is important, and in order to read quickly, youll need to read groups of words – or even whole sentences or short paragraphs – instantaneously. The good news is you probably already do this to some extent: most people read three or four words at a time. Once you make an effort to be aware of your reading style, youll discover how many words you read at a time. Now you just need to increase that number. Using your hand as a guide may help, as may holding the book a little further from your eyes than you usually do.

Dont Read to Yourself
As you read you probably subvocalise, or pronounce the words to yourself. Almost everybody does it, although to different degrees: some people actually move their lips or say the words under their breath, while others simply say each word in their heads. Regardless of how you subvocalise, it slows you down. (You are concerned with speed reading here, not reading to practice communicating the material verbally, which can be done later if you find it necessary.)

To break the habit, try to be conscious of it. When you notice yourself pronouncing words to yourself, try to stop doing it. It may help to focus on key words and skip over others, or you may want to try humming to yourself in order to prevent subvocalising. One exercise to stop your lips from moving is to put one of your fingers or a long but safe object (for example, a pencil) into your mouth and keep it there while you read.

Quickly Skim Over the Filler
No matter what youre reading, there is frequently a lot of filler that you can read quickly through or even skim over. With practice, youll be able to identify the most important parts of a book as you skim through it. When you get to such a passage, slow down. Before you begin a chapter or book, look over the entire piece very quickly.

Try to find patterns of repeated words, key ideas, bold print and other indicators of important concepts. Then, when you actually do your reading you may be able to skim over large portions of the text, slowing only when you come to something you know is important.

There are a bunch more skimming tips at WikiHow.com . . .

Recommended Reading

How to Study Smarter, Not Harder

Dartmouth published a paper discussing ways for students to improve their memory as they study. These tips will help any student study smarter, not harder. Here are some of our favorite study tips:

Recite As You Study
Recitation should first take place as you read through each paragraph or section. Quiz or test yourself. This promotes understanding as well as faster learning because it is a more active process than reading or listening. It also tests understanding, revealing mistakes or gaps. Recite in your own words. Auditory learners should spend more time in reciting orally what they are learning than visualizers. Read aloud passages you find difficult.

Take Fuller Notes
Visual learners should take fuller notes during lectures and their readings, as they learn more readily by visualizing than hearing. Auditory learners should take fuller notes perhaps on their readings. Notes should be in your own words, brief, clear but succinct. They should be legible and neat. Writing notes better reinforces memory than mere underlining, which is frequently done mechanically , often to excess and does not check understanding.

Study the Middle
The best time to review is soon after learning has taken place. The beginning and the end of material is best remembered, so pay close attention to the middle which is likely to be forgotten. The peak of difficulty in remembering is just beyond the middle, toward the end. change your method of review.

Sleep On It
Study before going to bed unless you are physically or mentally overtired. Freshly learned material is better remembered after a period of sleep than after an equal period of daytime activity because retroactive interference takes place.

Connect Ideas Whenever Possible
There are two ways to memorize: by rote (mechanically) and by understanding. Multiplication tables, telephone numbers, combinations to safes, and the like are better learned by rote. ideas, concepts, theories and significances and the like are learned by understanding. Sometimes they work simultaneously.

The more association you can elicit for an idea, the more meaning it will have; the more meaningful the learning, the better one is able to retain it. Always note similarities in ideas and concepts, and put them in their proper place in a larger system of ideas, concepts and theories. A bare literal understanding is often of little valuable. Never be satisfied with a hazy idea of what you are reading. If you are not able to follow the thought, go back to where you lost the trail.

Read ways to help you study smarter. . .