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Collecting Only The Important Material

Jan 3, 2008
Test your speed and accuracy from time to time by measuring yourself as you read or skim articles in periodicals.

Distinguish carefully your purposes.
If you wish merely to find out what an article discusses, and cannot learn this from the headline or opening paragraph, remember that you ought to be able to do it fairly well at the rate of at least 600 words per minute.

If you seek the main facts and arguments of an article, over and above its subject, you ought to skim over 400 words per minute. Here the rate will vary according to the character of the subject.

Keep in mind that it is much harder to skim through ten articles of 1,000 words each than through one article of 10,000 words. Each change of subject compels you to readjust mentally, to work with a fresh set of meanings, hence to warm up to the job.

Keep in mind, too, that familiar topics may be skimmed far faster than strange ones. To the latter you bring fewer word habits. You must think as you read, and that is hard.


Skimming a newspaper ought not to require more than fifteen to twenty minutes. Professional men usually devote about this time to the task.

You know, of course, that a newspaper is specially organized to make skimming easy. And it would be a fine thing if many other publications would imitate this excellent example.

Read headlines only, at first. And read them at the rate of six words per second or faster.

On a standard newspaper page there may be 400 words or more in all the headlines. Roughly then, you ought to read these in 70 or 80 seconds. With considerable practice and better than average skill, you can double or even treble this rate.

Unless you are reading merely for relaxation, never toil through the full report of a news item which has no practical bearing on your business, or your personal affairs. Read the first few opening lines. They will contain the gist of the event. And that is all you need.

Exercises in Skimming

The purpose of the following exercises is to drill you in catching the essentials of a passage which you lack the time to read straight through.
To get the best results, you ought to have somebody help you by regulating your reading time.

Place a cardboard over the exercise you are about to do. Let your helper have a watch ready, to count seconds.

At the top of each is indicated the time you are to have for skimming the passage hidden under the cardboard.

When he removes the cardboard, do not try to read the passage line by line; for this will be impossible. Try rather to run your eye down through it, spotting what strikes you as important.

At the end of the allotted time, your helper will replace the cardboard over the passage.

You are then to write down (or dictate) the essential facts you noticed in the passage.

Afterward, compare your report with the passage.

(Time allowed is 5 seconds)
Only a child thinks that we read with our eyes alone. Reading is a kind of giving and receiving. We bring to the marks we perceive on the page various subtle mental reactions. Some of these are memories, some thoughts, some emotions. The significance we read into the marks depends, not alone upon these mental responses within ourselves but also upon the entire context of the passage read.

(Time allowed is 5 seconds)
Colleges waste time and money whenever they train a student having no mathematical ability to be an engineer. They ruin a young man's future happiness whenever they allow him to spend four years of his life mastering foreign languages which he can never put to any use. Society will in time come to insist that education shall all be founded on two inflexible policies: fitting the man to the job, and fitting the job to the world in which the man is going to live.

Mastering the art of skimming will help you enormously in your daily life.
About the Author
Miraculous Old Manuscript Shows People How To Read At Lightning Speed And Still Comprehend Over 95% With Simple Reading Worksheets

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