A guide to Speed Reading 

Introduction 

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.

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


Benefits

You will be able to read more books in a shorter time span.

Learning new languages will become easier as your comprehension level most likely will rise (contrary to popular belief, speed reading could actually increase retention)

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:

  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.

  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. 

  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 whic 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 effecient way compared to using a pen.  Wider objects will cover surrounding text which in turn prevents your eyes from wandering away.

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, namly;
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.

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:

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.

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.

Don't subvocalise: There is a common tendacy 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

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.

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.
   
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 grasp a certain text's nuance and beauty and this can never be experienced through speed reading. 

Related resources

 Speed Reading Test - Find out how fast you read by using this tool.
 Reading Strategies green bullet -  A downloadable report discussing reading approaches to different subjects.

 Speed Reading Training - With this script you can train yourself to obtain a higher comprehension level.

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Further Resources

 Blue arrow Speed Reading Test [Script]
 Blue arrow Reading Strategies green bullet [PDF]

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The History

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The history of speed reading