How to Read a Lot of Dry Text Quickly

College student reading notebook
Emma Innocenti / Getty Images. Emma Innocenti / Getty Images

Dry text is a term used to describe text that might be boring, long-winded, or written purely for academic value rather than entertainment value. You can often find dry text in textbooks, case studies, business reports, financial analysis reports etc. In other words, dry text appears in many of the documents you will need to read and study while you are pursuing a business degree

You may have to read dozens of textbooks and hundreds of case studies while enrolled in business school.

To stand any chance of getting through all of your required reading, you will need to learn how to read a lot of dry text quickly and efficiently. In this article, we're going to take a look at a few tricks and methods that will help you wade through all of your required reading.

Find a Good Place to Read

Although it is possible to read almost anywhere, your reading environment can have a huge impact on how much text you cover and how much information you retain. The best reading places are well-lit, quiet, and offer a comfortable place to sit. The environment should also be free of distractions - human or otherwise. 

Use the SQ3R Method of Reading

The Survey, Question, Read, Review and Recite (SQ3R) method of reading is one of the most commonly used approaches to reading. To use the SQ3R method of reading, follow these five simple steps:

  1. Survey - Scan the material before you actually begin reading. Pay special attention to titles, headings, bold or italicized words, chapter summaries, diagrams, and pictures with captions.
  1. Question - As you read, you should constantly ask yourself what the key takeaway point is.
  2. Read - Read what you need to read, but focus on comprehending the material. Seek the facts and write information down as you learn.
  3. Review - Review what you have learned when you finish reading. Look at your notes, chapter summaries, or things you have written in the margin and then reflect on key concepts.
  1. Recite - Recite what you have learned aloud in your own words until you are confident that you understand the material and could explain it to someone else.

Learn to Speed Read

Speed reading is a great way to get through a lot of dry text quickly. However, it is important to remember that the goal of speed reading involves more than just reading fast--you need to be able to comprehend and retain what you are reading. You can study speed reading techniques online to learn exactly how it's done. There are also a number of speed reading books on the market that can teach you various methods.

Focus on Recall Not Reading

Sometimes, reading every assignment just isn't possible no matter how hard you try. Don't worry if you find yourself in this predicament. Reading every word isn't necessary. What's important is that you are able to recall the most important information. Keep in mind that memory is highly visual. If you can create a mental memory tree, it may be easier for you visualize and later recall facts, statistics, and other key information that you need to remember for class assignments, discussions, and tests. Get more tips on how to remember facts and information. 

Read Backwards

Starting at the beginning of a textbook chapter isn't always the best idea.

You are better off flipping to the end of the chapter where you will usually find a summary of key concepts, a list of vocabulary terms, and a list of questions that cover main ideas from the chapter. Reading this end section first will make it easier for you to locate and focus on the important topics when you read the rest of the chapter.