Preview Quiz 1

As a preview to what will be discussed in Part One, try to answer this question:

This booklet covers two reading skills. What does this indicate about the skills?

  1. They are totally different from each other.
  2. They are closely related.
  3. They are exactly the same.

Begin reading Part One to discover the correct answer.

Efficient reading demands more than simply remembering facts. It requires the use of many comprehension skills. Two important skills are retaining concepts and organizing facts. Both require the reader to recognize facts and details and form meaningful generalizations. As is the case with all comprehension skills, good concentration is also important.

The purpose of this booklet is to help you improve your comprehension through an understanding of these two skills. This booklet will show you how to combine facts and ideas mentally, make generalizations, and gain greater insight and deeper understanding from all your reading.

Retaining concepts and organizing facts are closely related. Both skills depend on the reader's ability to pinpoint facts, minor ideas, and supporting details as well as main ideas. And both ask the reader to combine specific facts into summary statements, restatements, and generalizations.

The two skills are related in other ways. Organizing facts is slightly more complex than retaining concepts because the reader must understand the order in which the writer presents his facts and ideas. A perceptive reader must mentally organize facts, ideas, and events into a whole, following the author's suggested pattern, before he can interpret these as general concepts.

Retaining concepts can be explained further this way: to retain something is to remember it. A concept is a general idea. Thus, retaining concepts means remembering broad, general ideas. General ideas are formed from reading the facts, ideas, and events presented by the author. A writer, for example, might say that in one particular Civil War battle, 24 Northern troops lost their lives. Fifty men in blue were injured, and only six Northerners escaped injury and death. Northern supplies and weapons were also lost in the encounter.

Here we must first realize that all the figures pertain to Northern men. One should remember that two dozen Northern troops were killed. Two dozen is easier to remember than the number 24. The reader must also remember that slightly more than double two dozen—fifty—were injured. Half a dozen escaped. We are interpreting these numbers in terms which makes them easier to remember. Mentally, we should combine the numbers to know the total number of Northern men involved in the conflict. Simple addition shows the number to be 80. We can now remember these interpreted figures and generalize that the Southern troops won the skirmish and inflicted heavy losses on the Northern troops. The universal theme: man can kill if it suits his needs, also emerges. We have thus formed several generalizations by mentally combining facts.

Preview Quiz 2

As a preview to what will be discussed next, try to answer this question;

In the paragraph on page 10, the writer listed the important matters first. What would this method of paragraph organization be called?

  1. Simple listing
  2. Cause and effect
  3. Order of importance

Continue reading to discover the correct answer.

Also in this brief example, the writer has listed his figures in order of importance. He mentioned deaths first, then injuries, then escapees. The mention of supply losses was reserved for last place because the status of men is always more important than material things. A good reader is quick to recognize the author's pattern of presentation.

Since the mental processes and reading techniques required to use the two skills are nearly identical, we will group them both together under the heading, "making generalizations".

It will not be necessary for you to make a distinction between these skills beyond this point. You will be able to use them simultaneously in your reading.

To help you improve your ability to generalize, this booklet will explore the skills involved in making generalizations.