Reading Tips - Scope First!
Jan 3, 2011 Reading 1927 Views
When you open your emails after a vacation or holiday, you probably do a quick review of the new messages to see which ones seem most important. This lets you know where to prioritize your time. But, when you pick up a book that has been assigned to you to read, or open up the classroom textbook, chances are you open up to the first page and begin reading. Not only is this a poor use of your time, but it will slow down your comprehension, too.
Getting the scope of a book or a textbook is a better option when you sit down to read an important school assignment. Scoping out the material lets you quickly find the main idea and any key points, and it also gives you a framework from which to evaluate the material. All too often, though, we skip this step.
However, if you begin by scoping out the material, then you'll be more mentally ready to understand the information when you do read it. Scoping prepares your mind for understanding by letting it know what's coming and what's going to be highlighted. The first step in scoping though starts with something very specific. Ask yourself what you need to know about the material before you begin your scope.
Our brains like puzzles, even if we don't realize it. Like complex computers, if you ask the brain to "find" something, the search begins. Mental "files" are scanned and data is looked for. So, if you begin your scope with a question, the "find" question, then the brain will begin assessing the reading material for you. So, ask what you need to gain or understand about the material before you begin the scope. Ask your brain to find the important connections and information.
Next, quickly flip through the table of contents, chapter headings and subheadings, etc. as they show up in your particular book. Let the items that are bold or emphasized in the text "pop out" at you as your brain determines their relevance to the questions you've given it. If there are graphics and visuals, you'll want to do a secondary scan of a little more depth when you come back to them, but on your first pass through, skip over these and just get the layout and scope of the material.
Just this little step will help to mentally organize the material before you read it. There are other steps you can take to go a little deeper before you read such as previewing topic sentences and looking at the visual aids, as mentioned, but this first scope of the material alone will be of great value in your reading comprehension. If you have time for nothing else, at least make this type of scoping a habit in your pre-reading practice. Your brain will be much readier to read and understand the material when you actually read it.