If you want to understand how to increase your reading speed and comprehension, you’ll love this article.
What is speed reading?
It is essentially a collection of techniques and methods to increase your reading speed by changing your reading habits.
It’s also about discovering and eliminating bad reading habits, and adopting new and better reading methods.
How to Improve Your Reading Speed and Comprehension:
Speed reading is something you can use every now and then to increase your reading speed, otherwise you can train yourself to become a permanent speed reader.
Learning to Speed Read Will Save You Time
Speed reading is not a new phenomenon.
In fact, because of its benefits have been embraced by many people. This concept was first popularized in 1957 after president John F Kennedy organized training classes for him and his family so they could all master the art of speed reading.
It is claimed that John F Kennedy himself could read 1000 words per minute. The average person, without knowing how to speed read, reads between 250 and 300 words per minute.
Increasing your reading speed by just 50% will save you 20 minutes for each hour you spend reading.
If you can double your reading speed (a 100% increase), you can double your free time (or double your knowledge intake at the same time).
This is particularly useful if you’re studying a course. You can speed read and spend the rest of the time going over your notes again or taking notes.
When you have a lot to cover and short time to discuss it, speed reading will work well for you. This will let you cover more topics in a given period.
How do you read
You may spend hours reading each day, but it isn’t impossible that you do not spend quite a lot of time thinking about how you read.
Have you ever thought about determining how many words you read per minute when you’re at maximum concentration?
Well, you may have regretted your reading speed every now and then, but I’m sure that’s as far as that goes. However, if you take a moment to consider how you read, you may discover something you never thought you would.
For example, scientists have changed the way they consider how we read. Previously, scientists thought that your eyes were focused on a single letter as you read.
However, research conducted proves otherwise. Scientists now know that every eye notices different letters when you read. These letters are normally two characters apart.
In essence this means that our brain really perceives words as entities within them and not as strings of letters.
This fun fact is then used to help individuals speed read because it opens the door to group reading – reading the words in groups rather than reading each word individually.
Time your reading speed
If the concepts of this article are of value to you, it is crucial that you test them and apply them. The trick is to test your reading speed.
This will make the process more enjoyable for you as you’ll see the effect of every change you apply. To test this, ideally you should have a physical copy of a book that you’re somewhat interested in, but it should be new material.
It should not be too complicated like a math text or something like that.
To test your reading speed; count the number of words on a page (or if it is easier, how many words per sentence). Then you should set a timer for five minutes to see how many words you can read in that time.
After the timer goes off, count the number of pages (or sentences) and divide the number of words by five to see how many words you read in one minute.
If five minutes appears to be a lot, you can even time yourself for one minute and find out your reading speed. However, a longer time will provide you with a more accurate reading speed.
Timing your speed will let you track your progress as you work to increase your speed. Know that speed reading is just like the rest.
Getting really good takes practice, but stick with it and you will see great results.
Set Your Own Goals
As mentioned; average reading speed is about 200 to 300 words per minute. But if you set a goal to read a little faster, you’ll consciously try to increase your speed.
The thing about reading is that the more you read, the faster you get at it. The average student, for example, reads at a speed of 300 words per minute.
You can set this as your speed reading goal and once you have achieved that goal, if you so desire, you can work on increasing your speed further until you reach 1000 words per minute.
That’s the speed level that almost all competitive speed readers reach.
The way to attain this is to set a series of smaller goals. For example, if you set out to read 1000 words per minute, you could divide that goal into three smaller goals.
The first goal is to attain a reading speed of 500 words per minute, increasing to 750 words per minute, and at last 1000 words per minute.
Identify And Brake Bad Reading Habits
Most of the time, the things you do end up slowing down your reading speed. Unfortunately, some of these items are so ingrained that you may not have the ability to pinpoint them as things that are bogging you down.
Luckily, with some practice, you can identify and correct bad reading habits. When we undergo this habit; watch which one you do. This way you’ll have a list of actions to work on.
Some of these habits are:
Many people have an inclination to say words in their head when reading them on paper or a screen. This habit is known as sub-vocalization and is among the main reasons why many people read slowly.
The problem is that you’re going to only read as fast as you speak, and you can understand words much faster than you speak. Do you do sub-vocals?
The answer is the start of you identifying and correcting the situation. If you recognize the voice inside your head then you’ll have the ability to mute it while reading.
How to stop this habit
Once you acknowledge that voice is there, you need to make a conscious decision to stop talking while reading. This may take some practice.
Start by trying to lower your voice as you read, making it a whisper rather than a full enunciation. Finally move on to the next word before you get an opportunity to sound the previous word out in your head.
Don’t worry; You don’t have anything to lose by doing this. This is because your brain understands the words you see faster than you can say them.
Read word by word
When you read word by word, you take the time to sound each word utterly before moving on to the next. It’s as if you put a period on each word as you read before tackling the next word (note if you do this).
This as one can imagine slows you down tremendously and affects your overall reading speed.
How to stop this habit
As you read, use your left index finger to underline as you read sentences.
This will allow yourself to read at the speed of your fingers, not allowing yourself to sound out every word. It’s helpful to use your left index finger.
This is because science has proven that the right side of our brain primarily controls the left side of our body. Instead you’ll activate the right side of your brain when you move the left side of your body.
Interestingly, the right side of your brain is also responsible for creating visual images and interpreting the context of what you see.
So using your left index finger for underlining really supports you in activating the right hemisphere of the brain, thereby helping you to stop reading word for word and making you more aware of the bigger picture of what you are reading.
Inefficient eye movement
Study how your eyes move across this paragraph as you read. Do you look at each word before moving on to the next or do you allow your eyes to widen a few inches?
How to stop this habit
Your eyes can reach up to 1.5 inches (about 2.5 cm) when you read. Don’t treat each word as one unit. Instead of focusing your eyes on each word as you read, soften your eyes and permit yourself to think of the words as blocks.
This will allow your eye to undergo the page more quickly, because you’ll be reading in blocks. Acknowledge that your eyes have the ability to see many words directly.
Once you see the grouped words, move on to the next grouped words.
Sometimes as you read, you end up going back to the words you have already read. This is known as regression.
Instead of moving on to the next block of words, you haven’t got to return to the words you have already covered. It really slows you down and messes up your reading flow.
Regression also disrupts the structure of the text and interferes with your understanding of the subject you are reading.
How to stop this habit
You can work around regression by using pointers. This way, you focus on the words above the pointer rather than going back to reading the words you already read.
Alternatively, you can use a piece of paper to cover the text you have read. Effectively stop you from regression.
Finding the Ideal Setting
Reading requires a certain concentration.
Speed reading requires more than average concentration because you will not have the luxury of continually re-reading paragraphs you have already read under the guise of understanding the subject better.
You can make the best setting for reading by ensuring you do it right. You may already know about these items, but the basics aren’t at all times put into practice.
Therefore, the purpose of this section is to get you thinking a few setup that might be ideal for you.
Distractions not only interfere with your reading speed, but also your concentration. You need to avoid distractions while reading. If you cannot read with the TV or music on, stop insisting, you can.
People who appreciate music, for example, find themselves wanting to absorb every nuance while the music is playing and this interferes with their reading.
Turn off distractions and ensure you have time for quiet reading. If you have other things on your mind (for example, if you are worried about preparing dinner), you may have a hard time concentrating on your reading.
Choose the ideal time and place to read. You should consider these tips:
* Put a ‘don’t disturb’ sign
Sometimes it isn’t enough to let people know you are going to read. Sometimes you need to remind them in other ways because humans tend to forget particularly when it serves their purpose.
You should put a ‘don’t disturb sign’ on the door. Tell everybody that you’re going to be reading from a certain time and that you’re going to not be available until that time is over.
Once everybody around you is on the same page, you’ll find that people will generally wait until you are available to communicate with them because they now know your routine.
If you cannot find a quiet environment to read, buy earplugs (1). Earplugs will let you shut out the noise and thus increase your speed, since nothing will distract you.
However, you must watch out when choosing earplugs because you want to choose one that you’re comfy with particularly if you’ll be using them every now and then.
You want earplugs that are gentle on your ears and still keep out undesirable noise.
* Turn off the TV
Avoid turning on the tv while you’re reading.
Humans are naturally interested in what’s going on in their environment. When the TV is on, you’ll be attracted by the different visuals and sound effects as the show progresses.
You do not need that kind of distraction particularly when you are trying to speed read. If other people are watching TV, move to another room and ask them to turn down the volume and keep the noise level down.
Choose an Ideal Reading Place
In addition to avoiding distractions, you need to set up an ideal reading space. You might want to read outside, for example, but the spot you choose is full of birds.
This means that you’re going to be distracted every time the bird poops or squeaks. Your ideal reading spot should be a low-traffic area where you can think about the words you are reading rather than looking around to see what is going on.
It does not must be a gloomy-looking place but it should be freed from distractions and interruptions.
Choose the ideal time
Different people have different times when they read at their best. For example, some find it easier to read in the morning than at night.
Others prefer to read at night when everyone seems to be asleep.
Whatever time you choose, it should be the time when you’re going to get the most out of your reading. Sometimes life may have other ideas with regards to reading.
You may want to read in the morning but may find it impossible to do so because of family responsibilities. If so, you need to adjust to a more appropriate time.
Once you train your mind to read at a certain time, you’ll adapt to the changes.
Check your posture
When you read, you must minimize your movements. Anxiety is annoying.
Make sure your legs or arms do not swing while you read. Don’t nod your head as if you agree with what the author is saying. You must be sure that your book stays flat while you read.
Use a lap pillow if necessary and wear reading glasses if you cannot see words properly.
The settings you choose can help or hinder your speed reading efforts. A quiet setting with few distractions will let you think about what you are reading.
In this way, you’re going to get rid of many bad reading habits and you’ll have the ability to achieve your reading goals.
How to read quickly and effectively
Setting goals, breaking bad reading habits, and creating the ideal setting are all steps to increase your reading speed.
In this section of the text we’ll look at more traditional techniques to increase your reading speed.
But first, let’s have a look:
How Speed Reading Works
Whenever you read any text, several things occur. First of all, the level of comprehension and the amount of time it takes to read a passage often depends on the nature of the content.
Thus, in most cases, if you’re reading unfamiliar content or some fairly complex concepts, it’s likely that you’re going to need more time to look at the various words and groups of words than to read familiar content.
This is normally referred to as a fixation and takes about 0.25 seconds and once you have done this you should move on to the next word, a process known as a saccade.
This (saccade) generally takes about 1 second. When you repeat something once or twice, you then pause to internalize what you read and this is normally referred to as comprehension, which lasts about 0.5 seconds.
If you add comprehension gaps, to the saccades and fixations, you then find that on average, you’ll be reading around 200-400 words per minute.
Speed reading is all about shortening the length of time it takes for the fixation to last by using skills such as visualization and increased thinking speed.
When speedreading, you should think of it as if you were creating a slide show presentation where the conscious part of your brain plays a role in picking up the concept then delivering the speech as opposed to reading the text word for word.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how speed reading works, let’s now focus on speed reading techniques you can use.
Different techniques present different results. Use whatever can benefit your situation.
When you skim, you quickly catch the main idea of what you read.
Skimming occurs at about three or four times the average reading speed. You can read the first and last paragraphs and then read the title and subtitle of the reading material.
You can even continue reading the first line of every new paragraph. Skimming is beneficial when you want to quickly find things like dates, places, and names.
Scanning is an incredible way to quickly view your reading material without spending quite a lot of time on it. The scan is centered on specific keywords and keyword phrases.
For example, if you were reading about pregnancy massage, your keywords would be the words pregnancy and massage. Instead of reading all the material, you’ll let your eyes scan the reading material with those two words.
Many authors concentrate their most significant points around their keywords. Thus, the scan will let you understand the core information without spending time on additional information.
Mental guide (Use pointer)
You’ll be amazed how quickly you learn to read with a pointer. As previously mentioned, your left index finger is an incredible alternative.
Pointers are particularly useful when you want to fix problems like regression, poor concentration, and nearly any other bad habit. Bookmarks help you focus on what you need to read.
It is also a great tool in setting your reading speed. You should at all times try to move your pointer faster than you normally read.
This way, you will be forced to read faster because you will not have the ability to keep repeating words or sub-vocalizing as you read.
Other techniques include using speed reading software to help you increase your reading speed.
Speed reading software is designed to subtly eliminate all bad reading habits so you can finally maximize your reading speed.
Methods To Control Your Reading Speed
Speed reading is not just about increasing your speed; it is about controlling your reading speed.
Anything to do with speed must be controlled; otherwise, you may quickly run out of steam and abandon speed reading altogether.
There are diverse methods you can employ to speed yourself up during speed reading. This is:
Your hands can be powerful helpers with regards to speed reading. All you need to do is place your hand over the page you are reading and slowly move it in a straight line down the page.
Your hands will help you increase your speed by drawing your eyes as you read. You haven’t got to keep your eyes where your hands are but you should keep them moving.
Keep your eyes on the page, not your hands. Once you are done with the line, move your hand down.
This method requires the use of your hands. You should cup your dominant hand barely (bend it at your knuckles) and use it to shift your gaze to the page you are reading.
Your dominant hand will move across the line in a sweeping motion (from left to right). You should use your entire arm to move, not just move your wrist.
Moving your hands will make it tougher for your mind to wander because you are physically active.
Similar to the sweep technique, this technique requires you to cup your hands as you would when sweeping.
However, rather than sweeping across the page, you’ll make two jumps (or bounces). The first jump requires you to place your finger at the start of the line you want to read and the second jump in the middle of the line.
Your fingers will cover several inches of the line. This means you’ll have the ability to read words as a single block and thus you’ll read faster.
This technique resembles the scanning method. Instead of reading material linearly, you will read it diagonally (as if in a zigzag).
In this way, your mind will scan the material allowing you to note the core material and leave out the extra material.
Understanding And Quality
Speed reading without understanding is useless. You should have the ability to read fast and understand well what you have just read. However this will require you to put some effort into reading.
One overarching principle with regards to reading with maximum comprehension is knowing particularly what your result will be. What do you need to understand (or understand) by reading a book or text?
Make sure you know this before you start reading. The way to do this is to ask yourself, why? Why am I reading this book or text?
Humans aren’t creatures of random action. We have reasons for doing what we do.
Connect with what this means to you before reading any text and you’ll set yourself up for the highest quality and understanding of your reading.
Here are some specific tips to consider:
Preview your reading material
When you get a book to read, do not jump right into it. You should instead undergo it taking notes on the different sections, titles and sub-headings.
You can even take your time to study any available pictures or images. This way, when you start reading, you have a summary of what the book is about and you will not spend too much time on diagrams or drawings because you are already familiar with them.
If you did not pay attention to what you read (2), it does not matter whether you read fast or slow because you will not have the ability to remember what you have read, which means you’ll gain little understanding.
You need to read as if it really matters. This way, every time you sit all the way down to read, you’re going to get something out of it because your mind knows you are involved in something important.
Know what to read
Not every word written is equally important. Each page written has core material and supplementary material.
It’s up to you to quickly decide what is important and what serves as supplementary material to reinforce the words already written.
For example, the author may use illustrations to give a clearer picture of what he has previously written. If you notice this at the start of the illustration, you can skip it and move on to the next section.
As you read your book, you may come across subtitles. When you do, change the title and subtitle to questions.
This way, as you read the sections below the subheadings, you’ll quickly find the answer to your question rather than reading every available detail that might not help answer your question.
Write a report
Write a report or abstract at the end of your reading. Think about what you have read and then move on to writing down the key points.
You can summarize what you have read to increase your level of understanding.
Often, stating something in your own words helps you remember what you have read and also highlights what you need to research further.
Build your vocabulary
One of the reasons why many people read slowly is because they aren’t familiar with some words.
The more words you do not know, the more your brain pauses trying to determine what those words mean. Strive to build your vocabulary every day.
In this way, you’ll have the ability to increase your reading speed and enjoy reading.
One important aspect of speed reading is knowing when to speed up and when to slow down. As you read, you can quickly skim through additional material without missing important information.
However, with regards to things like reading legal documents, it is best to slow down your reading because you do not want to miss any words that could finally make all the difference to your situation.
However, there is no reason why you should not use speed reading in your everyday life.
Learn to control your speed
Without control, speed reading will quickly turn into a nasty task. You need to control how much you read and how fast you read.
When you speed read, you will start out with a burst of energy but ultimately you will start to feel tired. At that time, you will not retain much information. This can be detrimental in your quest for knowledge.
However, you can control your speed by using the pointer. In this way, when you get tired, you can reduce your pointer speed and thereby effectively reduce your reading speed.
And when you feel up to it, you can then speed up again until you are done reading.
Thank you for reading this article on how to increase reading speed and comprehension and I actually hope you take action on my suggestions.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.