How To Read Faster

November 21, 2009  |  Speed Reading

Speed reading is a controversial study technique meant to help individuals increase their reading speed. The main objective is to escalate the speed while retaining a good amount of comprehension. If you want to find out how fast you read, make sure to visit our speed reading test and find out for yourself.

This guide is meant as an introduction to speed reading for those who would like to know more. Before we dive into this subject, I would suggest we point out some of the benefits in learning this technique.

The reasons for mentioning these are quite obvious. It will serve as an incentive, making us more inclined to master the technique.

Benefits

Blue Arrow You will be able to read more books in a shorter time span.
Blue Arrow Learning new languages will become easier as your comprehension level most likely will rise (contrary to popular belief, speed reading could actually increase retention)
Blue Arrow It will leave you with more free time to do other things.

Methodology

The first question that comes to mind is of course; how do you go about doing this? There’s no simple answer to that really but there do exist a few things one ought to keep in mind:

Blue Arrow Know where you are: We are all familiar with the big red “You Are Here” dot featured on most maps. The map it self is pointless if you don’t know where you are to begin with, the same can be said about speed reading.

A good way to know where you stand in terms of speed reading is by simply taking the free speed reading test on our website. Please note that I’m planning on adding a comprehension test along with it.

Blue Arrow Read Frequently: This is the most important and the most fundamental part of all speed reading courses. Practice, practice and practice more. The general rule is that the more you read –> the faster you will read. Isn’t true that a runner who runs often improves his speed? Indeed he or she does and reading is not much more different in this aspect.

Blue Arrow Use a tool: A good way to start out is by using a pen or your own finger and use it to follow each sentence as you are reading. Try (gradually) moving your hand a bit faster and take notice of what happens with your eye movement. Your eyes will tend to follow the speed of your hand which is pretty amazing.

On a further note, using some sort of card, bookmark, or page-width item could help you increase speed in a more efficient way compared to using a pen. Wider objects will cover surrounding text which in turn prevents your eyes from wandering away.

Use interactive speed reading software: Advanced tools like software can provide you with a lot of practice exercises and an advanced progress tracking system which can help motivate you more to continue your learning and development in speed reading.

Blue Arrow Make less fixations: There are several different methods to speedreading and each approach might sound a little different but in the end they all work after the same principle, namely;
the lesser fixations made –> the faster one will read.

In other words; the fewer times your eye stops in a sentence, the faster you will read. Thus we can conclude that speed reading is – in it’s essence – the notion of reducing the number of times the eye needs to halt in order to comprehend the text being read.

Blue Arrow Separate the wheat from the chaff: Another fundamental part of speed reading is the notion of prioritizing content. In most of our books we find that there’s a lot of “unnecessary information” that you can just skim over. In order to find these unnecessary snippets, we have to pre-read the content. This means that you have to identify the most important parts of the book through skimming before you start the actual process of “reading”.

It takes a lot of practice to be able to distinguish important content from unimportant information. It’s therefore vital that you teach yourself to begin a reading session by looking over entire sections very quickly. Try to recognize patterns of repeated keywords, ideas, emphasized text (bold, italic etc) or other similar indicators of important concepts.

This will enable you to “pass by” large portions of the books content, slowing down only when you’ve reached something you know is important.

Facing Difficulties?
Learning how to speed read is not easy and some may experience a few difficulties on the road. Sometimes these issues are caused by external problems, not relating to the reading itself.

If you’re experiencing problems with concentrating on you’re reading material, please try the following:

Blue Arrow Have your eyes checked: Sometimes people read slowly because they have an undiagnosed problem with their vision. Even if you’re sure that there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, if you haven’t had an eye exam recently, there’s no time time to do it but now.

Blue Arrow Remove distractions: There are some people who claim they read better when listening to music or when they’re in a crowded café. The truth of the matter is, if you want to read faster you can not allow other things to compete for your attention.

The lesser the distractions, the faster you will read. You should try your best to find a solitary place to read and make sure that the TV is off. If it’s not possible to be find a solitary place, I would suggest the use of earplugs to drown out all the distraction.

Blue Arrow Don’t subvocalise: There is a common tendency among people to subvocalise or pronounce certain words to themselves. The degree to which people do this varies, some will for instance actually move their lips while others simply repeat the words in their head.

It doesn´t matter how you subvocalize (if you do so), it will slow you down! If you’re afflicted by this and want to break the habit, you need to try your out most to be conscious of it. If you can’t rid yourself from it by merely being conscious of it, then you might want to take some greater measures.

For instance, you could place your finger in your mouth when reading. Although this seems somewhat drastic it could be very helpful in overcoming the problem.

Further Tips
Blue Arrow Start out easy: It’s always hard to embrace new methods and this is why I recommend new students to start out by reading a book that they’ve already read. By doing so, you will have it much easier to skip certain passages and keep up a good smooth flow while doing so.

Blue Arrow Big fonts > Small fonts: Another good thing to keep in mind – if you are new to speed reading – is to keep yourself from reading text written in small fonts. Start out by reading books with larger font sizes since they make it harder to skip lines by mistake.

Blue Arrow Understand the purpose: My final and most important advice to you is; never forget the purpose of why you’re reading what you’re reading. Some things are simply not meant to be read fast even if you can grasp all the facts. There are times when you just want to enjoy a certain text’s nuance and beauty and this can never be experienced through speed reading.

About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of www.study-habits.com, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.


3 Comments


  1. Hello.My name is Hamid and i really don’t know who on earth would read my comment or not.i’m frustrated from searching in internet to get data information but i can’t.let me tell you sth buddy you know i’m study english ‘of course free.i could’t go to school because i’m immgration and i’m limited.but study english.i have nothing data information about any subject or topic while,i’m trying to be prepared for IELTS exam.foe example:i wanna practice my writting and i choose a topic but i don’t have data to write about.i don’t know how do i get information about any topic.i’m just wasting my time.i must i have to pass this exam as soon as i can i have to take job my family have lots of economy problems.just all things that i want is some information about any topic i could write to add my knowlegebecause essential for me to pass the exam.i’m bagging you help me.please and thanks alot. this is my email:hamid_ai72@yahoo.com

  2. Assalamu aleykum,

    I understand your circumstances, you see, English isn’t my first language either. You should know that there are ways to speed up the learning process. For instance, try reading a lot of books and conversing with people who can speak the language fluently. There are numerous ways to connect with people who speak English so I wont go into that. Apart from this general tactic, I would actually recommend you to try out the many books & CD’s that have been produced concerning the IELTS exam. Personally I think you should focus on guides and other materials pertaining to the IELTS exam instead of reading general books (for now).

    Even though it’s quite essential for you to read books if you wish to be fluent, I suspect that for now you’re more interested in getting a high mark on the test than being able to grasp Shakespearean sonnets. So in closure, I’d focus on the reading material that is available for the IELTS exam and do my best to master these.

  3. I always get a little nervy when people use phrases like ‘speed reading could increase your comprehension,’ retention, etc. That also means it could decrease all of the above, right? Especially when it is one third of the reason to learn speed reading, I would love a little evidence to back up the claim or something.

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