With world war II, 9-5 jobs emerged. Documentation became an integral part of an office job. Reading through hundreds of documents, and filtering the must have from the routine was one skill that Employers treasured. That is when in late 1950s, Evelyn Wood coined the term "speed reading". A researcher and a schoolteacher, Mrs. Wood was fascinated by the difference in reading speed of equally qualified professionals. In an act of desperately finishing a book, she used the sweeping motion of her hand to read chunks of sentences. This technique later became the basis for “Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics.”
While preparing for GMAT, Students are apprehensive about using speed-reading courses citing lack of evidence in comprehension. The worry is qualified as aggressive reading in place of speed-reading can decrease comprehension. Skimming Techniques help you answer ‘title of the passage’ question but is ineffective in details question and inference questions in some cases. A combination of speed-reading and comprehensive reading is the solution.
Before you start adopting a technique:
1) Pick dense reading material
GMAT reading comprehension passages are about ecology, historical events, policy decisions or one of the latest research papers from Scientific Journal. Test creators ensures that you have limited or no knowledge of the reading material. This forces you to depend on the passage for information.
2) Measure your performance
After you have picked up a dense reading material, it is time to measure your reading speed. The most common metric is words per minute, but that limits your ability to measure when you are slowing down. A better approach would be to divide the passage into paragraphs, and measure the reading speed of each paragraph. The traditional words per minute metric can be used for each paragraph.
3) Set Baseline
After you have set a baseline for your reading speed, note down the metric for each context.
Words per Minute – Introduction
Words per Minute – Details
Words per Minute – Full Passage
Words per Minute – Type of Passage (Science, Astronomy, Social Science, Politics, History)
Once you are aware where you are slowing down, improvements can be made by systematically reading and attempting denser subject matters in the same weaker topics.
GMAT Speed Reading Techniques
If you are reading the words in your mind or whispering the passage as you read, speed and comprehension are likely to go down. Changing a learned behavior takes time. With just 2-3 months for GMAT preparation, breaking this pattern requires drastic changes. A common technique to break this habit is repeating an unrelated sentence loudly as you read the passage. Let’s use “I will master GMAT RC”. This repetition serves two purposes. It acts as an affirmative command, and blocks our sub-conscious from reading the words in our mind. Initially, the speed will be low but our goal is changing sub-vocalization. With 3-10 passages, the behavior will alter.
Reading line by line limits your speed reading capacity. You will not lose any comprehension if you follow a z-pattern. Initially, the Z-style reading would seem confusing but with just 3-5 passages, the new style will become second nature. What Z-Style reading does is combining three lines and taking the gist of the “word chunk.” Instead of sequentially tracing the flow of ideas line by line, this sweeping motion captures more than what traditional eye scan can.
Regress if Necessary
Although speed reading experts have discouraged readers from reading words and sentences already read, research by Elizabeth R. Schotter, Randy Tran, and Keith Rayner from UCSD Department of Psychology has proved that regressing improves comprehension. By knowing that speed-reading allows for regression, pressure to retain the meaning of each sentence decreases, and focus is shifted on understanding context, intent of the author, and evidence presented for formulating an opinion.
Don’t use skimming while reading the passage for the first time. Use them when the question is about finding a detail embedded in a paragraph or what the author means by the “sentence” or a line number.
Scanning like skimming results in reduced comprehension. Use it for questions about main idea, author’s biases, assumptions, and paragraph structure. No matter which speed reading technique you use, not all of them will work for you. Choose techniques and practice on easier to tougher reading comprehension passages before shortlisting the ones for your final GMAT exam.
The above post is an Excerpt from Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide. Download it here
Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide (2019 Edition)
Collecting and Interpreting Facts: GMAT Reading Comprehension
Effective Note-taking for GMAT Reading Comprehension
5 Questions to Speed up Summary Creation
Mastering GMAT Reading Comprehension: 3 Best Practices
How to Remember Information
How to improve comprehension by Questioning the Author
How to Read Faster
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Title question
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Main Idea Question
How to Answer GMAT Reading comprehension inference question
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Purpose Question
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Detail Question
How to Answer the GMAT organization of passage Question
Passage #1: Protein-Rich Diet
Passage #2: Pregnant Women and Stress Management
Passage #3: F Losing Momentum
Passage #4: Conservatives and Automation
Passage #5: Collaboration, Team size and Performance
Passage #6: Effective Altruism
Passage #7: Loneliness Epidemic
Passage #8: Space Exploration
Passage #9: Lab-Grown Meat
Passage #10: Minimum Wage in the US
Passage #11: AI and Creativity
Passage #12: Bias Against Healthcare in Developing Economies
Passage #13: Legacy Admissions
Passage #14: Plastic Ban and alternatives
Passage #15: Underestimating Homo Sapiens
Passage #16: Conspiracy Theories
Passage #17: Relative Poverty
Passage #18: Why Paintings are expensive
Passage #19: US Obesity Epidemics
Passage #20: The Future of Advertising
Passage #21: Breaking Large Companies
Passage #22: Helicopter Parenting
Passage #23: Future of Democracy
Passage #24: Technology and Global Citizenship
Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide
After reading F1GMAT’s Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide, you will:
1. Complete GMAT RC Questions in less than 1 minute and 50 seconds
2. Read Faster
3. Take Notes Effectively
4. Collect and Interpret Facts
5. Speed up Summary Creation
6. Remember Information
7. Question the Author
8. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Title question
9. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Main Idea Question
Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning
After you read F1GMAT’s Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning Guide, you will learn:
How to overcome flawed thinking in GMAT Critical Reasoning?