How to Read Faster

Read More Effectively When You Study

If your studies as an adult student involve a lot of reading, how do you find the time to get it all done? You learn to read faster. We have tips that are easy to learn. These tips are not the same as speed reading, although there is some crossover. If you learn and use even a few of these tips, you'll get through your reading faster and have more time for other studies, family, and whatever else makes your life fun.

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Read Only the First Sentence of the Paragraph

Student flipping through book; motion of turning pages
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Good writers begin each paragraph with a key statement that tells you what that paragraph is about. By reading only the first sentence, you can determine if the paragraph has information you need to know.

If you're reading literature, this still applies, but know that if you skip the rest of the paragraph, you may miss details that enrich the story. When the language in literature is artful, I would choose to read every word.

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Skip to the Last Sentence of the Paragraph

The last sentence in a paragraph should also contain clues for you about the importance of the material covered. The last sentence often serves two functions — it wraps up the thought expressed and provides a connection to the next paragraph.

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Read Phrases

When you have skimmed first and last sentences and determined the whole paragraph is worth reading, you still don't need to read every word. Move your eyes quickly over each line and look for phrases and key words. Your mind will automatically fill in the words between.

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Ignore the Little Words

Ignore the little words like it, to, a, an, and, be — you know the ones. You don't need them. Your brain will see these little words without acknowledgment.

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Look for Key Points

Look for key points while you're reading for phrases. You are probably already aware of the key words in the subject you're studying. They pop out at you. Spend a little more time with the material around those key points.

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Mark Key Thoughts in the Margins

You may have been taught not to write in your books, and some books should be kept pristine, but a textbook is for studying. If the book is yours, mark key thoughts in the margins. If it makes you feel better, use a pencil. Even better, buy a packet of those little sticky tabs and slap one on the page with a short note.

When it's time to review, simply read through your tabs.

If you're renting your textbooks, make sure you understand the rules, or you may have bought yourself a book.

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Use All the Tools Provided - Lists, Bullets, Sidebars

Use all the tools the author provides — lists, bullets, sidebars, anything extra in the margins. Authors usually pull out key points for special treatment. These are clues to important information. Use them all. Besides, lists are usually easier to remember.

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Take Notes for Practice Tests

Take notes for writing your own practice tests. When you read something you know will show up on a test, write it down in the form of a question. Note the page number beside it so you can check your answers if necessary.

Keep a list of these key questions and you will have written your own practice test for test prep.

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Read With Good Posture

Reading with good posture helps you read longer and stay awake longer. If you're slumped over, your body is working extra hard to breathe and do all the other automatic things it does without your conscious help. Give your body a break. Sit in a healthy way and you will be able to study longer.

As much as I love to read in bed, it puts me to sleep. If reading puts you to sleep, too, read sitting up (blinding flash of the obvious).

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Practice, Practice, Practice

Reading quickly takes practice. Try it when you are not pressured with a deadline. Practice when you're reading the news or browsing online. Just like music lessons or learning a new language, practice makes all the difference. Pretty soon you'll be reading faster without even realizing it.

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Your Citation
Peterson, Deb. "How to Read Faster." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Peterson, Deb. (2023, April 5). How to Read Faster. Retrieved from Peterson, Deb. "How to Read Faster." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).