Friday, 31 July 2009

Skimming exercise

The aim of this exercise is to help you to preview material at high speeds. By previewing material, you will see all of the material you are planning to read in a very short space of time, and even if you do not take it all in, you will gain an idea of the structure and content of the material you will be reading.

As you preview, your brain will be able to start making subconscious connections between what you are seeing and knowledge you already have. This will make it easier to absorb when you read through more thoroughly later on. We suggest that you preview all material you read, with the possible exception of any reading purely for pleasure, where you want to be surprised by what happens next.

In this exercise you will use the extracts from world literature (alternatively, you could use a book of your own), and using your visual guide, read at the rate of one page per second. Start your guide off at the top left hand corner of the left hand page and move it diagonally to the bottom right hand corner of the same page. Then move on to the right hand page, start at the bottom left corner, and move diagonally up to the top right.

Use your normal fixation rate. If you are using a fixation rate of four fixations per second, you should be making four fixations on each page.

If you are not sure where to focus, turn to the separate Speed Reading Transparencies document. Pages 1 to 5 contain the appropriate transparencies for this exercise. Select the transparency appropriate for your fixation rate and place it over each page, using the x’s as your points of focus. Do this for two minutes or so. These transparencies are designed for use with the extracts we have provided. If you use your own reading material, they may not work as well. However, aim to use these transparencies for only a limited period of time. Once you have done this exercise a number of times, you should be familiar with where to focus as you skim read. At this point, do this exercise without using the transparencies.

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