Speed Reading

The major element which will most definitely lead you to success in CLAT in general is speed. You need to have a good reading speed in order to crack any section of this paper. Speed reading is required for the entire legal section as well much of the English section. Reading is not restricted to just going through a passage while taking as little time as possible, it requires that you read through a passage and understand most, if not all, there is to be understood in the said passage.

Now I know most of you would be wondering how to increase your reading speed, especially now with only a short while left before CLAT. Not to worry, I will share some tips which helped me improve my reading speed.

The Newspaper: I know you’ve heard this many times before, “Read the paper!’ “The paper is the most awesome thing ever!” “Reading the paper is the sure-fire key to cracking the exam!” let me put these stories to rest, the only way a newspaper will help you in the CLAT is with English. (Not, contrary to popular belief, only in GK). Now you need to have a plan for the newspaper. You can’t spend 2 hours pondering over it. Take the paper, open the editorial, and be done with the entire Editorial and Op-Ed page (assuming you subscribe to The Hindu, if you don’t, do so, for English) in 30-45 minutes tops. I know it seems like a Herculean task in the beginning, but you will catch on. Don’t try to learn the thing, it is not going to come in the GK section of ANY paper under the sun. The only way these articles help you is with English. I know I keep repeating it but that’s because it’s true. So anyway, try to understand what the author is trying to say and do it in one reading and you’re sorted. I set a timer for 1 hour initially and then slowly reduced it to 30 minutes as I kept progressing. If you don’t understand a certain word, try to use context to understand it (works most of the time) and then look up the meaning (for help with vocabulary, read this).

Speed reading: This is a technique that helps in those long English passages where you spend 10 minutes. In such passages, read the first and last line of each paragraph as a starter, this’ll give you an idea of what the paragraph contains, so the next time you read it, you won’t be totally lost as to what the passage is all about. Could also help you with answering some questions based on the passage.

Time yourself: whether it is the Editorial of The Hindu, or an article on how to crack the CLAT ;), make sure you have a timer set. Keep setting a new record and keep breaking your old record. If yesterday’s editorial took 10 minutes, try to read today’s in 9 minutes and 50 seconds. Don’t underestimate these baby steps. It is only by shaving off 5-10 seconds per day that you will reach your top speed in reading.

Concentration and Focus: Some of you may have this habit of reading a sentence multiple times over since you didn’t get it the first time over. Drop this habit. Now! It is the worst habit you can carry over to the exam. It will increase the time you take to read a passage by at least double. Thus wasting time, precious time you cannot afford to waste even as second of. Get into a habit of understanding whatever is written the first time over. And for this, read as much as you can, force yourself to start again if you need to go back even one sentence, but read the entire thing in one go without repetitions. I know getting over this will take time, but believe me, it’ll be worth every second.

Finally, practice and practice. Do as many mocks as possible for nothing will train you better for the stress that exists in the exam hall and believe me, the stress will slow you down, so the more you prepare for that stress and in that stress, the less disparity there will be between your reading speeds inside and outside the examination hall.

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6 thoughts on “Speed Reading

  1. the problems mentioned in this article are exactly the ones I am facing right now..!! Especially the ‘re-reading of sentences’ thing appears to be the militating against the chances of scoring maximum in the RC. Please clear one doubt I have about it. Do we need the complete the newspaper in 30-45 minutes or just the editorial page?? (What are Op-Ed pages??)

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