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How to be fast in reading and understanding?

  1. Apr 11, 2015 #1
    Hey guys !!! Its my first post here which is about my biggest problem. I read too slow to understand concepts. I am 16 year old and just now it took me 2 hours to read vectors and introduction to derivatives (7 pages with a few piece of cake questions). I am preparing for IIT-JEE and with this speed I really will not clear it. I am not a genius but an average student , good in school work because it involves everything at a basic level.I can work hard and study upto 8-9 hours (self-study) like one of those toppers but at the end of day when I look up at my work , I realise that anyone else could have done it in a lot less time. At same time I want to dedicate myself to my hobbies
    but I just can't do it because of the same. I damn need some help. Thanks.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2015 #2
    This link might give you some idea to follow up/

    However do be aware that there is a lot of quackry out there.
    I would ignore any courses you see offering guaranteed 100% increase in comprehension if you subscribe to some site and follow some set of procedures.
  4. Apr 12, 2015 #3
    That seems like a normal pace.
  5. Apr 12, 2015 #4
    I too used to think that I was slow, working at a similar pace when self studying a little calculus before I started college. Sure enough, once I started college I realized that I did work slower than the other students on day-to-day assignments. But it wasn't because I was too slow -- the other students just weren't being as thoughtful and thorough as I was being, and it showed come exam time... I think the same is probably true for yourself. It takes a lot of time and hard work to really grasp these concepts in math and physics, so don't short-change yourself. Fast-forward 4 years, and I'm graduating with a physics degree at the top of my class and moving on to a PhD program at a fancy-pants institution.

    As for dedicating time to hobbies beyond your school work, I've found this very difficult to balance if you wan't to really do the school work properly (assuming you're majoring in physics or something similar). I won't pretend and say that I went out every weekend in college, but you'll certainly have time to pursue hobbies if you wish. It will be up to you to figure out how you want to partition your time. I would say that I went a bit overboard with schoolwork at times and didn't always leave myself enough downtime, but it has seemed to pay off...
  6. Apr 12, 2015 #5


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    Education Advisor

    One of the issues that comes into play here is that so much of the information that we get today comes through media that's designed in a way so as to assault our attention and force it's way into our minds by repetition of short sound or video clips.

    So when we're faced with reading academic material that's not designed specifically for the purpose of persuading us to do something, and instead inform us with attention to factual accuracy, it naturally feels like it takes a long time. And it's easy to get caught up in believing that others are proceeding at a faster pace. Particularly at the high school level, people like to brag about how quickly they can get homework done.

    The basic fact of the matter is that it takes you how long it takes you to really understand something. The only real tricks that I know of that will help to improve your speed are practice, exposure and the right environment.

    Practice - The more you read, the better and faster you'll get at it.

    Exposure - The first time you're introduced to concepts in the field, it will take a lot of time to properly digest and understand them. This is why reading ahead of your lectures can be a real benefit. It means that you can devote more mental RAM to concentrate on the concepts that you didn't the first time.

    Environment - Do what you can to minimize distractions while you're reading. Some people find they do better when they have absolute quiet. Others prefer a little music or background noise such as in a coffee shop. It helps to make sure that you've had enough sleep and otherwise taken care of yourself (nutrition, exercise, etc.). And try to reduce the clutter in your life so you don't have a list of 15 other things you're trying to remember while you're reading. In short, when you're studying, try to make that the only thing you're doing.
  7. Apr 13, 2015 #6
    Reading and comprehension problems are not uncommon and certainly can put you at a disadvantage in college. I would suggest you talk to a specialist familiar with reading issues. I do not know if such a person is readily available at you school but you should seek help to diagnose your problem. It might have a relatively simple solution. I do not think this is a particularly good place to seek help with this type of problem.
  8. Apr 13, 2015 #7
    I know the feeling. I'm also a high school student and, even though I'm not an expert in this matter, perhaps my own experience can help you.
    When it's time to study maths or physics I think is normal to spend more time on reading than in other subjects. I guess it's logical: you analyze the problem, memorize formulas, recreate the problem in your mind and you try to figure out how to solve it...In my opinion is very important to make clear you comprehend the base knowledge. If you don't understand the main principles, it will be hard to understand higher problems. In fact, in my case I'm trying to rebuild and optimize my basic knowledge in Maths and Physics because I have realised that in more complex matters even when I get the concept I fail in the mathematical resolution or in simple mistakes.
    Other users have said this, but I think it's importan to highlight: practice, more practice and timetables. I'm currently doing the IB course and our teachers have insisted a lot in the importance of plannifying our study. If you're studying by your own too and you want to keep a good level in both, is necessary to have this in mind.
    I understand you're concerns about your leisure time and hobbies. It's difficult, but is possible to mantain a balance with your studies, your social life and your leisure time. I'd be lying if I told you that it's easy for me and I can do everything I want. However, you could follow a routine that fits you including your hobbies, studies and social life. Make it flexible. And yeah, you need sacrifices (for example, I do not use the computer from monday to sunday if it's not for scholar issues). But that depends on you.

    Regarding to the reading issue:Concentration and calm: It would be awesome if we could read a entire volum in one evening, but...it's difficult. My advice is this: don't worry about how much you read, worry about how much you understand. I you read a book per day but you only remember the title...there's something wrong. If you need more time in order to comnprehend the full text, you'll spend more time. But trust me: over time it will be more gratificating. As you understand more basic concepts, you'll be more prepared for more complex texts and your reading and analysying skills will improve. Don't worry if you need more time than other students. Take your time. Just put all your will on the study and focus in the tasks. If you need squemes or drawings in order to make sure you understand the concept,s keep a notebook by your side you you can write down your conclusions or your doubts.

    Our teacher told us something curious: Niels Bohr had fame for his "slowness" in comprehension during scientific gatherings. When a young scientist came and exposed his work, everyone agreed and clapped for his brilliance. Bohr needed more time to assimilate his ideas and everyone tried to explain him the work of the young scientist. Nevertheless when Bohr spoke and shared his own ideas about the scientist's work, it resulted that Bohr's conclusions were more accurated than the scientist's. Curious, huh?

    Read needs its time. What is important is what does this study mean for you and how much you need for learning.
  9. Apr 13, 2015 #8


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    I wish I could do 7 pages in 2 hours :frown:
  10. Apr 13, 2015 #9
    In general education today it is well accepted that there is little to no correlation between true intelligence and speed in absorption ( memory), comprehension or problem solving. I have always viewed math as a language and you have to practice it to become proficient - I can not see how reading about these topics can mean you have learned them - some may pick up the concept quickly but take a long time to understand how to apply it.
  11. Apr 13, 2015 #10


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    Staff: Mentor

    I know how you feel. I'm 30 and taking Calculus 1 in college. It took me about 10 hours to understand the Chain Rule of derivatives and do twenty basic problems using the rule.
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