Reading Skills

Contents

Reading Skills

Founded And Managed By Former Head Of Department At Top MOE School

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Warm Welcome, from The Head of Administration, Top Tutors

Hello, I am Margaret
My team of experienced private tutors and professional tuition coordinators are looking forward to hearing from you!

Margaret Chew
Former HOD, top school in the Holland-Bukit Timah area
MA (UC Berkeley – Graduate School of Education)
MA (Imperial College London – Engineering)

MA (University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program)

Why Do We Need Reading Skills?

How often have we read something and did not gain any helpful information from it? For me, it happens at least once a day. It is so important to be able to develop good reading skills.

Good Reading Skills Help Us Save Time – And Reduces Agony

I would sometimes have to re-read texts several times to get a better understanding of the content. If I feel that the document is important enough, that is. Otherwise, I will just move on to other things instead of – frankly – wasting my time. 

Students’ Reading Skills

When we are students, we MUST develop the correct reading skills. It is an important task, because it helps us master content so that we can do better in our exams. This includes content that is in our text books, on the internet, and in the supplementary notes that our teachers give to us.

Reading Is Boring – Sometimes

“But there is so much boring stuff!” I can hear us groaning.

Few people would read a text book or the school’s supplementary notes unless we are *forced* to. I might not have yet met any student who would read textbooks for fun or as a favourite hobby. If you do, please send us an email or whatsapp text 🙂 We’d like to interview you!

Proven Reading Skills – So That We Understand Correctly

Fortunately for the rest of us, there are several proven reading skills and methods that can help us read effectively and get maximum benefit each time we put in the effort to read. 

Good Reading Skills Help Us To Save Time

By using some or all of these reading skills and strategies, we can free up our time to be able to do other more meaningful things, like figuring out how to apply our knowledge, get higher exam grades and chill with our hobbies.

Think about the time you will save in the long run once you start having the best reading skills. Sounds good? Let’s start using these reading skills today!

Different Reading Skills For Different Scenarios

The reading skills and strategy required for reading a textbook is slightly different from reading novel like Twilight or Sherlock Holmes.

Reading Skills That Adapt To The Genre Of Writing

The goal of authors of textbooks is simple – the inform and to educate. The authors would communicate ideas through explanations of information. 

Novels on the other hand, usually bring you into a fantasy world.

Because of this, we need a different reading skills and strategies to read a textbook.

Reading Skills For Textbooks

Textbooks are very thorough. Sometimes boring, but definitely thorough. It will be difficult to be able to absorb and remember every tiny detail found in each chapter or paragraph.

So these are the reading skills that you need to develop:

1. Identify What You Want To Know

We all read for a purpose. What do you want to know after you have read the chapter or article? Once you have decided your purpose of reading, you can examine the content to see which parts will help you more.

Good questions to ask yourself are:
    A. What do I already know?
    B. What else do I need to know, in case the questions come up for the exams?

These questions give you more control over the reading that you need to do, because it lets you know – on your own terms and conditions – what you expect the book or article can do for you.

When some of us read a document or a textbook, we sometimes cannot align our thought process and analytical thinking to that of the author’s. If you want to better understand difficult content, you should write a list of topics that you are expecting to see in this textbook or article, and what questions you want to have answered by the end of the text. This may sound like a strange strategy but it is effective in helping you know which areas the text has not met your learning needs. You can then ask your teacher or tutor about what you need to know.

It is very important to be able to prune away information that is not useful. Clutter – whether in the written form in an article or chapter, or on our study desks/bedrooms – is a huge obstacle when we want to think clearly and get serious work completed.

Big and Important Ideas are usually presented to you in the form of bold print or section headings.

Key Details are found in the paragraphs that support the Big and Important Ideas, so that the Big and Important Ideas make sense.

Write down in a separate piece of paper or exercise book the key information that you want to extract from the article or chapter. This is the perfect way to help your mind remember these important points, Using the highlighter on your text book is good, but really, writing it down – whether you are copying most sentences wholesale or summarizing in your own words – definitely helps with memory recall.

2. Know Where To Look For Important Information 

Different chapters contain information that is found in different places, is presented to you in different ways – and have different depths and breadths of coverage.

By scanning through the material and having a good overview of where the important information is, your mind will know where to extract the information that you need for the exams and projects.

When reading, take small pauses and ask yourself questions. Reading 50 paragraphs at a time might mean that you can complete the task in record time. But your objective is to score better grades, not speed-read.

During the short pauses, ask yourself:
    A. Does this make sense?
    B. How does this information connect to what I already know?
    C. If the information seems incomplete, where can I go to find out more?

By constantly evaluating what you are reading, you will be able to better understand the author’s explanation, and finding ways to supplement what might be missing – and vital to your exam success.

If some portions of the chapter are not making sense, break the text into smaller portions. Research online the words that you do not understand. Take notes of what you have found through your research, because these are powerful notes that you can use when you revise for your exams. If possible, discuss what you have read – together with the notes you created – with your teacher, tutor, parent or classmate.

Visualize the content that you are reading. Picture what it might look like, and how it works. This is a very good way to help you remember what you are reading.

The MOE structured the syllabus of all the subjects that we are taught in schools in a way that similar to how Lego bricks work – the information at the mid levels are based on the fundamental information that we are first taught. And the complex information is placed on top of the mid level information. This is why it is so important for us to be able to make connections from one piece of information to another within our text books. If we cannot find how the information is inter-related, we will end up feeling increasingly lost as the weeks and months pass before we are faced with CAs and SAs.

3. Simplify Difficult And Complex Concepts With Words That You Understand

Some students memorize information that they are not sure the meaning of. This method might have worked somewhat well during the time our parents were in school. But exams these days test our ability to analyze and apply difficult knowledge. So memorizing works only to a small extent.

If you are not sure what some key words and concepts mean, you MUST ask someone who knows. This can be your school teacher, your tutor, your classmates or your seniors. We probably don’t want to run to them for each word that we don’t understand on Monday, then Tuesday, then Thursday, so it is good to compile a short list before asking them on say a Friday. It is better to ask and know, than to keep quiet and then suffer quietly by ourselves. Once they have explained, then you have to write down the explanations into your exercise or text book so that you can keep referring to it when you are studying.

4. It’s All About Timing 

If we need to read a text that has complex concepts or requires a lot of concentration, then we should choose a time in the day when we are likely to have the most energy. I know – no time in the day is the best time for studying – but there is surely at least 30 minutes of each day when we feel slightly more alert than the rest of the day. If you feel that 30 minutes is too precious a duration for you to read boring information, then set aside 15 minutes where you can be efficient. Go through the text, and then spend the other 15 minutes doing something else that you enjoy. Fifteen minutes of your serious attention is better than zero minutes.

5. After Your Reading Session, Ask Yourself:

  1. What was the most important thing that you remember from reading today’s text?
  2. Which parts did I not understand?
  3. Which parts should I read again?
Remember, it takes constant practice to develop your reading skills. 
The more you use these methods and practice on your reading skills, the more effective you will become – and the easier it gets for you to understand and retain the really important content.

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