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Published on February 11, 2021

9 Effective Reading Strategies For Quick Comprehension

9 Effective Reading Strategies For Quick Comprehension

Whether you are a veteran at reading or just starting to get into adult reading for the first time, you know that reading isn’t quite the same as before. It might be taking you more time to process what you are reading, or maybe you’re looking to speed up your reading overall. Whatever the case may be, what’s truly blocking you from getting up to the right reading speed is the lack of a reading strategy.

I’ve been there plenty of times before, and thanks to the various reading strategies I’ll be talking about, you can devise a reading comprehension strategy to make you understand and read things faster than before.

Here are nine effective reading strategies for quick comprehension:

1. Read With a Purpose

The first strategy that I’d suggest employing is to read with a purpose. This is my go-to strategy for quick comprehension. As I’ve expressed in the past, life is very fast-paced, and reading a book allows me to slow down as I give myself fully to the book, regardless of the genre.

The reason I approach my reading this way is that if your brain is distracted or unable to process the information presented, then you’ll lose that information.

Another way you can look at this is to read with a purpose in mind. You’ll lose that information if you don’t focus on that purpose for reading.

Knowing how to read with a purpose is a matter of grouping books into three categories:

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  • Books that strengthen a skill – These books are packed with knowledge consolidated over the years that you can quickly access.
  • Books that share success stories and allow you to learn about a person’s struggles and failures – Even though your circumstances are different, reading about a big name in a field you’re interested in humanizes the process you’re going through right now.
  • Books that let you experience life in a different way than yours – These books provide profound insights into other life experiences and help you understand people on a deeper level.

By grouping books into these categories, you have a clear purpose for reading each book and processing information in that manner.

2. Previewing

I’ve read many books over the years, of course, and one thing you’ll quickly find is that many authors—in non-fiction books specifically—will talk about similar concepts. While an author’s view will be different, some concepts are consistent across the board.

This is where this strategy truly shines as this is all about previewing a text and tapping into what you already know about the subject. While a book or an article could expand your knowledge of something, this can speed up your reading time and understanding because the author is talking about something you’re already familiar with.

There’s no point in reading over something you already know, so it’s easier and faster to move on to how the author uses that information instead.

3. Predicting

Expanding from previewing, the idea with this is that you’re making predictions about what the book or article you’re about to read is like. It sets up expectations.

For example, when you read the title of this post, you expect reading strategies to make comprehension easier. You’re not expecting anything else but that.

This same concept holds true with any book you read. Of course, you’ll make adjustments to your prediction as you read through, but like previewing, you are still brushing over pieces of information that you’re already familiar with or that you expected to be there.

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4. Identifying the Main Point

Every book has a summary to entice readers, but you can provide more in-depth summarization as you’re going through chapters of a book. If you’re looking for faster comprehension of a book, you must find the main idea that the book is presenting to you. Furthermore, by putting it into your words, you’ll have a better grasp of it.

The main point of the book could also be explained in the preface section. Most non-fiction books are set-up in a way where they explain their arguing points of why something matters and why you should continue reading. From there, they’ll discuss what the book contains.

Oftentimes, the main point is in there and you can use that as a blanket statement for the rest of the book. Knowing the main point of the book allows you to put information into context. They’re explaining this concept because it ties into the main point they’re trying to convey.

This saves you a lot of time on reading since if you’re even somewhat familiar with the topic, you can gloss over information with the other methods. Furthermore, you’ll be able to retain this information better as you can describe the main point of a book in a single sentence in the future.

5. Questioning

While you are preparing to read a book, another key reading strategy is to have questions in mind. This may require you to briefly skim through the book and ask yourself questions based on what you skimmed. Questions can stem from various sentences or even the titles or headlines that authors use.

By creating questions, you then begin to focus on answering those questions. Naturally, this brings comprehension quickly as the book ought to be equipped to answer those questions.

How you go about asking these questions is up to you. You could think of them and hold onto them, or you could consider writing them on the right margin of the page where you got that question. As you read through the book, you could mention the answer on the left margin or underline the answer and note the page number underneath the question you asked.

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6. Inferring

This is all about reading between the lines—a skill that not many people have or are hesitant to use. Inferring is a reading strategy that can seem like it would backfire as people’s interpretation of something could be off from what the author intends to convey. But that’s further from the truth as inferring is a process of learning and something you can develop over time.

It’s fine if you’re wrong about things as inferring encourages more of discovering and absorbing information on a deeper level. This naturally increases your comprehension of a topic.

Inferring, in the end, is all about drawing your own conclusions. An author presents information that you can then deduce for yourself and develop all kinds of questions. What do they mean by this? How does this fit in with everything else they’ve said thus far?

Again, even if you’re wrong with the answers to those questions later on in the book, there’s still knowledge to be gained. The answers that you have created could spark new questions or understanding. And when an author presents something different from yours, then your knowledge still expands with that in mind.

If you happen to be right, then you save yourself a lengthy explanation, which cuts down on reading time and comprehension.

7. Visualizing

Visualizing covers the creative side of things and is one of the more thrilling methods of quickly comprehending something. Even if you’re reading a non-fiction book or article, visualizing is still a helpful tool.

The idea is to be crafting, drawing, or making mental images of the information that you have. If the author outlines a system for you to use, look at the various aspects of that system. Visualize yourself performing these specific actions. Things like these keep you invested in learning and understanding more since you’re using both sides of the brain to digest information.

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Visualizing also keeps you invested because it answers the question, “how is this relevant to me?” We read books because of specific emotional or personal reasons and visualizing can help you in answering that question, especially how you see it fitting in your life.

8. Monitoring/Clarifying

Stemming from inferring and predicting, monitoring/clarifying as a reading strategy is taking your deductions and comparing them to what you are actually reading. In many cases, your understanding of something can be different from what the author is stating, and from that comes a deeper understanding of the information. This can also stem from questioning strategies as you are searching for clarity in those answers.

9. Searching

The final reading strategy stems from questioning where you are looking for answers—similar to clarifying. The difference between searching and clarifying is that clarifying is designed for a general understanding.

For searching, you’re looking to find information that backs up and reinforces what you wish to be learning about. This puts you in a situation where you’re defining things that you’re uncertain about, and it allows you to solve problems that you still have with the text.

Final Thoughts

Comprehending what you’re reading involves having a system of reading strategies that you can easily tap into. Effective readers will employ several of these strategies to rapidly understand what they’re reading.

As such, I would strongly encourage you to employ these methods and experiment. Find out what works for you and develop a reading strategy that works best for you.

More Essential Reading Strategies

Featured photo credit: Seven Shooter via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 1, 2021

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

If you’ve ever taken a learning style quiz, you know that the idea is to find your most prominent learning style. The question then becomes: what do you do with that information?

A textbook definition of learning styles is:[1]

“Characteristic cognitive, effective, and psycho-social behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that different individuals interact with their learning environment in different ways. You’ll often see learning styles in conjunction with higher education and other types of cognitive learning courses. The theory is that, if the teacher is aware of the various ways in which people perceive information, they can differentiate the instruction to meet those needs.

To the casual learner, understanding your learning style can help you find the best way to learn new information. There are seven different learning styles, and everybody uses a little of each one (on a sliding scale).

In this article we will talk about how many different learning styles there are (and what they mean), get you to try the learning style quiz, and find out how to use your specific learning style to improve your life.

The 7 Learning Styles

The following is an overview of the various learning styles[2]:

1. Visual / Spatial

A visual learner thinks in pictures. They prefer having illustrations, pictures, and other types of images to help form a mental image of what they are learning. Visual learners are typically spatial thinkers.

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2. Aural / Auditory-Musical

An aural learner learns through music and rhythm. While actual music isn’t necessarily required to reach an aural learner, it certainly is more effective.

3. Verbal / Linguistic

A verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in reading. A person with this learning style might prefer a good lecture or textbook to more visual and auditory styles.

4. Physical / Kinesthetic

A physical learner prefers using their body, hands, and sense of touch. A person with this learning style is more of a “hands-on” learner who prefers to learn by doing.

5. Logical / Mathematical

A logical learner prefers information to flow from one thought or idea to the next. A person with this learning style prefers mathematics, logic, and reasoning.

6. Social / Interpersonal

A social learner prefers to learn in groups or through social interaction. A person with this learning style usually prefers group-work and project-based learning.

7. Solitary / Intrapersonal

A solitary learner prefers to work alone. People with this learning style are great at teaching themselves and often prefer self-study and online courses to more traditional learning methods.

Did you see yourself in more than one learning style? If so, then you understand that no one person has just one learning style. Each of the above styles exist in everybody to a certain degree.

If you take a learning style quiz, you might see a certain style emerge as the strongest (and, thus, more preferred). However, that does not mean that person cannot learn in one of the other ways listed.

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Learning Styles and the Brain

Learning styles influence and guide the way you learn. They affect the way you internally represent your experiences, remember information, or even dictate the words you choose[3].

Learning style quiz: Dunn & Dunn learning styles brain map [Source: Kos, (2017)]

     

    Research suggests that each learning style makes use of a different part of the brain. Here is the breakdown for each learning style:

    • Visual: Visual learners use the occipital and parietal lobes at the back of the brain.
    • Aural: Aural content is mostly processed through the temporal lobes (especially the right temporal lobe for music).
    • Verbal: Verbal content is processed through the temporal and frontal lobes.
    • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learning is processed using the cerebellum and the motor cortex.
    • Logical: Logical learning is processed through the parietal lobes (specifically using the left side of the brain as it pertains to logical thinking).
    • Social: Social learning happens in the frontal and temporal lobes.

    How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Improve Your Life

    Perhaps you didn’t realize that people had different learning styles before you read this article. Maybe you already knew about learning styles.

    Whatever the case, you can learn a lot about yourself just by taking a short learning styles quiz. But what do you do with the knowledge you get from the results?

    Here are some tips:

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    Visual Learner

    If you’re a visual learner, focus on how you can make the material you’re learning more visually appealing[4].

    1. Stay Organized

    If a learning style quiz tells you you’re a visual learner, focus on getting your material organized. Your brain will likely feel overwhelmed if your notes are chaotic.

    2. Use Color

    Try color coding information in order to help your mind visually separate each bit. For example, if you’re studying for a history test, highlight dates in yellow, people in blue, and places in pink. This technique will set important pieces of information off in your mind and make them easier to remember.

    3. Watch Videos

    Ditch the audio-books and podcasts and either read or watch videos and lectures online. Your strength is found in visual explanation — seeing the information in a book, diagram, or demonstration.

    Auditory Learner

    If you’re an auditory learner according to your learning style quiz, focus on using your ability to hear to take in information[5].

    1. Limit Distracting Noises

    Traffic outside your window, students speaking nearby, or music blaring from a speaker won’t help you while studying. You’re already prone to take in the sounds around you, so if you want to learn something specific, find a quiet place to work where you can limit distracting noises.

    2. Read Aloud

    If you’ve taken notes in class, try reading them aloud to yourself. You can even create jingles or rhymes to help you remember specific bits of information.

    3. Record Lectures

    Instead of just simply writing notes as your professor or boss speaks, record the lecture or conversation and listen back later. This will help solidify the information with aural cues. Also, try speaking with classmates or coworkers to help “fill in” the information.

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    Kinesthetic Learners

    Your learning style quiz tells you that you’re a kinesthetic learner. Here are some study tips to help you[6].

    1. Teach Someone

    After you’ve studied the target information, try teaching it to someone else. This dynamic activity will help turn on your ability to recall the information.

    2. Be Hands-on

    Using your hands to create something will help your brain work through specific problems. If you need to remember 20 vocabulary words, try drawing a map and placing the words in specific places. This is related to the idea of a memory palace, which you can learn about here.

    Bonus tip: Try chewing gum, as the movement may help activate learning centers in your brain.

    3. Take Breaks

    As a kinesthetic learner, your mind won’t like being in one static position for very long. Take time to get up and walk around or do another physical activity for a few minutes between study sessions.

    Also be aware that most of the learning styles can fit into one of those three categories. You are essentially going to be one of these three types of learning styles paired with an interpersonal or intrapersonal preference. In other words, you either like working with others or you don’t.

    If you’re ready to take your learning to the next level with your learning style, check out the video below for some more tips and tricks:

    Final Thoughts

    Have you taken the learning style quiz yet? If not, scroll down this page a bit and try the quiz now!

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    If you spend just five to ten minutes on this quiz, it may give you insight into learning styles that will change your life.

    More on How to Use the Learning Style Quiz

    Featured photo credit: Eliabe Costa via unsplash.com

    Reference

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