Survey Reading Techniques

1. Preliminary structuring: discovering, before reading thoroughly, the main parts into which the material is organized, and the most important ideas. It involves thinking or writing out a complete sentence which expresses the basic idea of the chapter and indicates how you expect this idea will relate to the main points.
2. Establishing a purpose. Decide what you want to get out of the material and how thoroughly you need to understand it. Are you reading merely for a general idea or are you reading for details? Are you reading for a test, for business requirements or for pleasure?
  By carefully defining your purpose, you can set your reading strategy to accomplish this purpose. If you are reading for details, your reading speed will be slower than if reading for just a general idea or for pleasure. However, if you are reading only to get some idea of the theme and the main points, then the Survey Reading alone may be sufficient.
3. Estimating Difficulty and Time. Consider the total amount of time which you have available and estimate the difficulty of the material. Decide how you will budget your time, if you plan to go beyond Survey Reading. A realistic time estimate, in accordance with your purpose and the material's difficulty, will help you set up an effective schedule and give you greater control over your reading.
4. Questioning. Now that you know something about the book or chapter, what don't you know? Should you go on reading? If so, what do you expect to learn from a thorough reading? How did the author get from his introduction to his conclusion? What are the steppingstones along the way? Are they logically connected? What is the author's purpose? Does this information add to or contradict what you already know about this subject? Questions can be specific and fact-finding or broad and searching.
  Questions aid concentration by stimulating curiosity. The satisfaction of finding answers strengthens retention. Questions make a passive reader into an active one. Through questioning, you can establish a dialogue with the author, a conversation which will increase your enjoyment.
  Questions will occur during and after reading, but start them early, during Survey Reading.

Taken from Seven Reading Strategies, Baldridge Reading and Study Skills, Inc. May 1974.

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