The majority of a liberal arts student's time is spent either reading books, discussing books, or thinking about books they haven't yet read. Sometimes, nothing beats kicking back and slowly relishing every sentence. A whole afternoon devoted to casual reading can get you so engrossed in a book that you can almost find yourself seeing through the eyes of a character, or easily moved by the passion with which an author argues their point.
But what about when you have class in 3 hours and you forgot to do this week's required reading assignment? Then it's down to business! To expedite their reading, some students pull their window blinds closed and pop in some headphones. They turn off their phones and try to eliminate all forms of distraction. What many liberal arts students don't know, is that while some of these things may help them focus, none of them do much to improve reading speed or information retention.
Whether you're considering enrolling at a liberal arts college or are already a proud student, read on for a few tips that could help you read faster and more efficiently!
Liberal Arts Students Can Use a Pointer to Train Their Eyes
Students at a great books college are certainly not novice readers. One helpful thing to know though, is that while reading, your eyes frequently make brief movements away from your center of focus called saccades. Saccades are the brain's way of trying to gather more information, but can actually slow down your reading rate.
The solution is to use a pointer, like the tip of your finger or the end of a pen. Place your pointer below a line of text and move it as you read. Your reading rate will speed up once you get used to training your eyes. Your eyes are able to catch words within about a one inch radius of your pointer, so it's ideal to keep your pointer 1-2cm away from the margins of the text.
Stop Subvocalizing Your Liberal Arts Texts
When most people learn to read, they speak the words out loud. Eventually this stops, but most readers either hear the words out loud in their head, or may move their lips or throats while reading. This phenomenon is called subvocalizing, and it slows down your reading speed.
Subvocalizing isn't a bad thing. It helps us follow a narrative and understand text. It's not, however, necessary to subvocalize in order for readers to get the meaning of a sentence. Here's a couple of ways students at small liberal arts colleges can stop subvocalizing so they can read faster:
- move your pointer faster than your inner dialogue takes place
- chew gum while reading to help with lip or throat movement
Reading Liberal Arts Texts Actively
What many students don’t realize is that they actually read texts passively, by scanning the pages and waiting for information to present itself. Active reading means asking yourself what you're hoping to get out of the reading session, before you even crack open the book. This brain priming exercise of reading with a goal in mind actually allows you to notice relevant details much faster than simply scanning the words!
Do you know any other ways to improve reading speed and efficacy while studying course texts at liberal arts college in Chicago?