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Reading Styles

Here's a sample of how I read. Basically how I approach. Please note that these are only
general tips and you will need to make changes as per your requirments.

Reading a Newspaper

The articles of interest for me are typically columns, edits and analysis types. (You may see
I have an Indian Express hangover :-). I typically just rush through current news. Suprisingly
I dont find anything really interesting to read on top pages. Because they are news. They are
information about what has happened. So just rush skim skip here. The same treatment is meted
out to sports pages.

Next I move on the more analytical pieces. Here my aim is typically
  • Get main idea
  • Register structure
  • Either have zero or some awareness of details (this varies). (I will explain different detail awareness levels later).
After I have read an article I do this. At times I skip step 4 below as that may not be necessary. I do step 4 for those articles where my control was not to my liking.
  1. Recall what is main idea
  2. Recall the structure
  3. Just look at each para and try to recall what it says
  4. Find out how I must have ideally read (OPTIONAL)
  5. Register a few difficult words by trying to deduce their meaning. ( I never refer the dict. I think thats the worst way of improving your vocab).
Phew so if you spend time like this daily for an hr or so on a good newspaper, its going to make a world of difference.

Reading a Comprehension Piece

Now now. Typically RC pieces are dealt with in an aptitude test. GMAT. CAT. SAT. Here first
thing is to have a base strategy for the test in terms of timings. So I have to operate under a time constraint.

So we move ahead under the assumption that you have a time limit set to yourself. But not being hyper about it. Next I have the following aim while reading an RC:
  • Find out the main idea
  • Find out the structure.
  • Have some awareness of details.
Then after having read the RC I do this:
  • Recall the main idea
  • Go through each para to find out what it says
  • In each para, I go through the details trying to get as much as I can.
Note that here I dont usually bother to recall the structure (thats already in my head and I also need to save time). Now going through the questions is simpler. Most answers are picked automatically. For a few you need to use elimination, go to the details, or simply find out what my friend Twisted says as 'that which sucks the least'.

Reading a Book

This is a new field altogether. Here the challenge is assimilation of more volume of material. Again the differentiating point is "What type of book is it". Why I want to read it.

So a technical book is read in detail in parts and skimmed in others. Novels are read for pleasure in detail. At times you just want to get the gist of the book. So you skim the entire book.

I try to see how the book is structured. If it has sections, I see what each section will try to tell me. Then I see what parts of those section appeal to me. And they receive treatment as such.

The trick is to treat a book as a continous series of small articles and to link up the ideas together.

Details Awareness

Zero: You dont care about the details.
Some: You know there is this detail. You can describe it (but not in detail).
Complete: You know the details.

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