For years I have been teaching the “advanced” course and yet I had only a handful of students. Advanced course teaches high-level visualization, linking large amounts of information, prioritization of information, powerful prereading and other interesting superlearning techniques.
What is not a part of the advanced course
The “advanced” course does not handle speedreading and memory techniques, but tries to improve the ways we deal with information.
Occasionally I do need to teach professional and highly specific skills: for lawyers, finance specialists, engineers, programmers, mathematicians, medics. Fortunately I have very wide range of prior experiences and can generate specific strategy. However, this is not the heart of the advanced course.
Spoiler: this “course” contains workarounds for basic course and should be used only AFTER your have mastered speedreading and retention (85% at 800 wpm).
Controlling your information intake
The basic assumption I use: at any given time your information processing capabilities are fixed. With time and practice we do see slow improvement, but generally it does not change. Suppose you can process 700 pieces of information per minute. So the question is: how do we use it to get to 2000wpm at 70% understanding?
1. Fast speed low retention “skimming”
Paretto principle implies that only 20% of what we read is important. Most of the time retention of about 25% suffices. This means that with some advanced saccade training you can read most of your material at 3000 wpm.
2. Simply reading
Occasionally you will get to the paragraphs that do contain important stuff: examples, conclusions etc. Then you can slow down to your very familiar 85% at 800 wpm and read the content
3. Concentrated reading
Seldom, probably once per page, you will want to do concentrated reading. You will prefer to drop to 100% (EVERYTHING) understanding at 200 wpm and use the extra time for elaborate analysis and linking of the new material.
4. Preparation scanning
To orchestrate all stages together you can pre-read the material at 5-10% 10000 wpm. This speed leaves you 2 seconds for each page, and is about as fast as the brain can go. During this stage you not only try to generate questions to the text, but also use 3 colors (visualization) to color-code the material according to the preferred reading style above.
Controlling your linking structure
When you need to learn A LOT of material, choosing the right way to link the markers is critical.
The fastest way (10000wpm) is to generate markers without linking them at all. Unfortunately this opens little place for retention and retrieval mechanism, and could not be used for anything but pre-reading.
The structure I use to handle most of the document is a tree (3000wpm), starting with the subject of the document, and diving paragraph-by-paragraph to the smallest of the details color-marked for retention. This method enables top-down and bottom-up analysis, aggregation with other similar material, and basically frees up your memory due to chunking.
For deeper retention of lists, tables, graphs, formulas etc (at 800wpm) I use double-linked list, where each marker is linked to the marker before and after it. This is the method that is most widely used. Honestly, I rarely use this method, since I do not work with lists.
After I finish reading section, or where I get into the most interesting parts (200wpm) I use “hyperlinking” method, linking the new idea to as many association as I can find. This is very important for retention, self-testing and analysis of the information. To be able to hyperlink properly I request students to develop creativity to the point they can generate 20 associations per minute for any arbitrary object.
Controlling your effort
Occasionally we need to turn-off the superlearning capabilities: when we want to enjoy poetry, or when the material is simply too complex to handle. Occasionally people with perfect memory WANT to forget. Learning how to turn off the superlearning skill is probably the biggest challenge of the advanced course.
Controlling your motivation
Finally to keep the skills active you need to want to speed read A LOT of material. This requires some work on motivation and curiosity, generation of several bucket lists and gradual organization of the material into more manageable chunks.