If you are like many readers, you may believe that you must read and comprehend each word in a sentence. You fear that you will not grasp the meaning of the sentence if you do not do so. However, this is false. What is true is that you must comprehend key words in a sentence in order to grasp its meaning and extract important information. Understanding these key words – and skipping less important ones – will not hinder your understanding. In fact, using key words and inference will increase your reading speed. For example, consider the following sentence:
In the sentence above, there may be words you do not know: macular, chronic, progressive, legal, adults. However, there are enough key words to aid you in understanding the meaning of the sentence and to help you guess to which part of the body the word macular may be related.
The sentence is about a disease that is the primary cause of blindness in people older than 50. Because the sentence focuses on a disease that causes blindness, you can infer that macular refers to the eye or a part of the eye.
The same technique is useful when reading longer or more complex passages such as the one below. Unfamiliar words have been omitted. Even with these words omitted, you should be able to answer the questions that follow the passage.
1. The exact cause of macular degeneration is ___.
a. due to aging
b. due to heredity
c. due to long exposure to ultraviolet light
2. Which risk factor would probably contribute the least in damaging the macula?
a. working indoors all day
b. eating butter
d. wearing sunglasses
3. There is an approximate 61 percent increase in the risk of developing macular degeneration once Caucasians become ___.
a. 50 and older
b. 65 to 74
c. 75 and older
d. none of the above
4. Which risk factor is greatest in developing macular degeneration?
a. lack of exercise
d. poor nutrition
5. Women are less at risk in developing macular degeneration than men are.