The further you go in your academics, especially in upper level history or English courses, you may find yourself more frequently facing the scenario where you have hundreds of pages of reading assigned and only a few days to complete it all. I remember when I first encountered that kind of situation; I felt extremely stressed and overwhelmed with what seemed to be a Herculean task. Over the years, and especially during my time at college, it is extremely important to learn the skill of cutting through the clutter and maximizing your reading efficiency. How do you cut through the clutter?

The main idea of cutting through the clutter is devoting the majority of your time on the important points of the book or article while skimming through the less crucial portions.

  1. Spend a good portion of your time on the introduction and conclusion of the article or book. These areas typically summarize the entire argument that the author is trying to make!
  2. If you have time, then go through the article looking for the main sub-points in each section. This will often be found near the beginning of each sub-section.
  3. Annotate, Annotate, Annotate! Write down what the main point of the article, followed by the sub points that might expand or defend the point the author is trying to make.

Learning how to cut through the clutter is skill that you continue to learn over time, but the more you practice this skill the more efficient you will be able to read long passages and the more you will be able to recall the important points that the author is trying to convey.

Happy reading!

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