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Efficient Reading

Efficient reading means not only fast reading, but knowing how to adjust reading according to the type of passage. It is an active procedure requiring constant assessment of the validity of what it is being read as well as relating to one’s existing knowledge.


Obviously a part of efficient reading involves the building up of a respectable vocabulary. Students are taught a method for learning new English words at speed, and also instructed in the meaning of Latin and Greek derivative words, as well as prefixes and suffixes. Armed with a limited number of these the vocabulary of a student can be extended by thousands of words.


It should be clearly stated that skimming is not reading, and although a skilled skimmer reading in excess of 2000 words per minute can pick up a lot of information, it would be ludicrous to suggest that a student should approach his studies in this way. However, it is a very useful technique in appropriate places and all readers should be aware of how and when to use it.


Normally people read word by word across the line. In the diagram each straight line corresponds to a visual fixation and each jagged line to the eye movements between these visual fixations. Time is expended on the actual fixations and on the eye movements.

The eye is capable of taking in considerably more information at one fixation by reading groups of words, thereby reducing the number of fixations and eye movements per line, as illustrated in the diagram.

Further, because one is taking in complete phrases or groups of words at one fixation, retention is improved, since the brain can cope with complete information, rather than disjointed pieces of information e.g. It is easier to read the weather is icy cold than :


The ceiling to reading speeds which is consistent with high retention will vary from student to student. Reading speed and retention are influenced by the following factors: intelligence, former reading instruction, vocabulary, familiarity with material being read, and difficulty of the reading matter. As this course is concerned primarily with retention and understanding, it will not teach you to be a speed reader, but will show you the techniques by which faster reading is possible.

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