What Are The Reading Techniques? | Iris Reading
What Are The Reading Techniques?

What Are The Reading Techniques?

What Are The Reading Techniques?

The most productive reading techniques are SQ3R, skimming, scanning, active reading, detailed reading, speed reading, and Structure-Proposition-Evaluation reading.

Reading techniques are approaches to reading that you can employ to become a better and more accomplished reader. The techniques will help you read faster, understand what you read better, and remember what you read better.

This post will look at the different reading techniques, including actionable steps to implement the techniques.

Let’s dive in!

1. SQ3R Technique

SQ3R is named after its 5 steps – Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. The reading technique is great for comprehension and memory.


This first step in the SQ3R technique is preparing your mind to receive the material. Surveying involves getting a quick idea of the whole material.

Different ways to survey a reading material include:

  • Reading the introduction
  • Looking at the chapters/ headings and subheadings
  • Looking at the pictures or charts
  • Reading the summary
  • Looking up the study questions 


This step is about preparing questions that you will find answers to in the material as you read.

You can easily create questions from headings and subheadings. For example, if a heading in a chapter is “Drinking alcohol before a workout,” you can ask yourself a question like “does drinking alcohol before a workout have any adverse effect?”.

Creating questions automatically gives you a purpose as you read. It’ll then make you pay more attention to what you read.


Reading as the third step of the SQ3R model is more productive than reading the material straight-up. This is because you’ll already have an idea of the material and questions in mind that you seek answers to.

To help you in this step, make notes as you read. Also, after reading a section, highlight the most important points.


This is where you answer the questions that you’d created before starting to read. Reciting aids comprehension as you digest what you’d read, make sense of it, and get answers to your questions. 


This is simply making mental notes of what you’d read to see how much of it you remember. Thus, this step is all about retention.

You should do the review immediately after reading and sometime after. For maximum retention, don’t wait for more than 24 hours after reading to do the review. You can lose 80% of what you’ve learned if you wait longer than 24 hours before a review

2. Skimming

Skimming is a reading technique used to get the main gist of a material. It’s all about going through a chunk of text quickly and less about comprehension.

This does not mean that skimming is speed reading. While speed reading covers a lot of information quickly, skimming is simply sifting through information in quick time. In speed reading, you read the details, but when skimming, you skip over the details.

However, skimming is an invaluable reading technique when all you need is to get the main idea. It can be a great technique to “survey” a material before settling down to read it in detail.

Skimming can also come in handy when you need to review something you’ve read before. When skimming a previous read, you move your eyes quickly over the material to help refresh your memory. 

You use skimming technique when:

  • Going through a newspaper or magazine to know what’s covered
  • Going through a product review to have an idea of the product’s features

3. Scanning

Scanning is similar to skimming in approach. It also involves going through a chunk of text quickly without any care for comprehension.

The difference between skimming and scanning is on purpose. While skimming is done to get the main idea of the whole material, scanning is done to find specific information in the material. 

Scanning is a reading technique that you’ll find useful in many situations. One of such situations is reviewing a reading material to revive understanding of what was read. In reviewing, you move your eyes quickly over the text, searching for keywords or keyphrases that’ll refresh your memory. 

4. Active Reading

Active reading is a technique that aids both comprehension and retention. It involves engaging with the reading material when reading it so that you’ll understand it and evaluate it based on your needs. 

Some tips for active reading are:

  • Ask questions. As you read, ask yourself questions like “what does this mean,” “what is the significance of this statement,” etc. This way, you’ll fully understand each part of the material.
  • Look for patterns. Try to see the patterns in the reading as a whole. It helps you bring together all the information you’ve read into a meaningful whole. 
  • Highlight and make notes. As you read, highlight important points in the reading material. Even better, write down comments or notes on the book’s margins or in a separate notebook.

When you highlight and make notes, you can easily see the main points anytime you go through the material. To help you identify important points, look for transition words like “importantly,” “in contrast,” etc.

  • Link to existing knowledge. Try to understand how what you’re reading relates to what you know about the topic. This way, you’ll clearly see how the information has added to your knowledge.
  • Write a summary. Summarize what you’ve read in your own words. Write down the key points. 
  • Test yourself. Using what you have read, ask yourself mock questions, and try to answer these. Testing yourself will tell you how well you understand the material and remember.
  • Teach. Try to explain what you’ve read to someone else. When you do so, you’re inadvertently explaining it to yourself. So, when you teach someone the material you’d read, you’ll be reviving your understanding of the text and solidifying it.

Active reading is best for academic reading when you have to understand and remember what you read. It is also good when you have to read complex information.

5. Detailed Reading

Detailed reading is a technique that involves carefully reading and analyzing every word for a deeper understanding of the material. Detailed reading is used to extract accurate information from a material.

Detailed reading usually starts with skimming. First, you skim the material to have an idea of what it is. Then you carefully read through.

When doing a detailed reading, you need to look up the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases. You also need to piece words together for better understanding. You use this technique when reading research articles, reports, and literary works.

6. Speed Reading

Speed reading is a technique that helps you read faster without compromising comprehension or retention.

Speed reading is very different from skimming and scanning. In skimming, you speed through the text to get an idea of what it is, and in scanning, you speed through the text just to find something important.

However, in speed reading, you’re not simply running your eyes through texts. Rather, you’re reading every word, but fast. Importantly, you’re comprehending the text as you speed through.

If you’ve ever felt that there’s so much to read but not enough time, you need to learn speed reading.

There are various steps that you can take to master speed reading. These include:

  • Guide your eyes. Run a finger or a pen under the words you are reading. Our eyes tend to fixate on moving objects. So, if you run a finger or a pen under the words in a text, your eyes will follow.

Do this faster than you’ll normally read, which trains your eyes to move faster and to read faster.

You’ll agree that running a finger or a pen under the words you’re reading will not be “cool” if the reading material is on a digital device. Iris Reading has a speed reading tool that’ll guide your eyes by flashing word chunks on your screen at your chosen speed.

  • Deadline strategy. Measure how much time it takes you to read a page, then try to beat it. Always remember that whatever can be measured can be managed. 

Simply set a time of 1 – 5 minutes and see how many lines you can read in the set time. Then, set the same time again and try to beat it by reading more lines.

  • Adjust reading speed. When speed reading, slow down on the first sentence in a paragraph and increase your speed as you go.

Even automobiles do not come flying out of the garage. Just like a car accelerates until it reaches maximum speed, so start relatively slow and pace up as you go. 

This is very important to comprehension and retention when speed reading. You’ll easily grasp the introductory sentences and follow other sentences more readily as you speed up.

If you need help learning to read fast, Iris Reading is a leading speed reading and memory solutions provider. We have free and paid courses that’ll help you read fast while fully comprehending and remembering what you read.

The speed reading mini course is one of Iris Reading’s free courses. This course is a great way to get started and will teach you how to approach your material more efficiently. You’ll also learn to read fast on the computer screen and other digital devices.  

Another excellent course is the Speed Reading Mastery Course. While this is a paid course, you’ll get great value for your money. You’ll learn advanced techniques to increase your reading speed even further. You’ll learn speed reading strategies for tests like ACT/ SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT. In addition, there is a bonus gift –  a “30 Tips to improve your memory” document.

7. Structure-Proposition-Evaluation Reading

This is an excellent reading technique for non-fiction, often called the SPE technique. It involves three steps.

  • Find the structure of the text. This is simply studying the layout of the text. You can do this by looking at the table of contents or the headings and subheadings in the text.
  • Find the author-made propositions. In each section of the text, find the logical relationships between the author’s propositions. That is, determine how the statements relate to one another.
  • Evaluate the final arguments and conclusions. Look at the text’s conclusions and determine whether the statements of the texts actually lead to that conclusion.

Wrapping up

Depending on your reading needs, there are different reading techniques that you can employ. These include SQ3R, skimming, scanning, active reading, detailed reading, speed reading, and SPE reading. Reading techniques will help you be a better reader.

However, knowing these techniques is only the starting point to becoming an accomplished reader who reads fast, comprehends what is read, and easily recalls it. You may also need to take special courses to improve reading speed, comprehension, and retention.

Iris Reading is all you’ll need in this regard. To read very fast while comprehending what is read, consider taking our speed reading courses. To remember all that you read, consider taking our maximizing memory course.

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  • Bob

    This is a nice way to introduce yourself into different reading styles.

  • Kel

    This is a great start to get you going in more efficient reading practices.

  • Mohsin

    It is resourceful site