Learn How To Speed Read | Speed Reading Techniques & Tips

Learn How To Speed Read

There are people out there who might have heard so much about speed reading, but still wonder what it really is. If you are one of such people, speed reading simply means reading at a speed that is far higher than the average person is used to. It is an efficient way of reading because it helps you get more information in less time.

Why You Should Learn To Speed Read

This is the information age. Knowledge plays a critical part in today’s economy. The most knowledgeable persons in their lines of duty are going to always have the edge. Therefore, you simply need to know more. One easy way to know more is to read more.

However, we all have just 24 hours per day and NOT a second more. So how can you keep up with all your regular obligations and still find the time necessary to be on the cutting edge in your industry?

You have to get more done in less time. In the case of reading, you have to develop the skill of reading much more in less time without losing comprehension. To make it clearer, increase your reading speed by 50% and you will easily read in 2 hours a book that would have taken you three.

Where Do You Start If You Want To Learn To Speed Read?

Start by finding out what your current reading speed is. You can do this easily by picking a passage you’ve NOT read through before and timing yourself. Count the number of words in the passage read and just divide it by the length of time it took. Do this with a number of different passages and get your average speed. This should give you a good idea of how fast you read.

Another way of doing this (actually the easier way) is to take a speed reading test online. You can find a number of sites that offer this. All you have to do is run a search. Make sure you take these tests on a number of sites. This is because you’ll find some reading materials a lot easier than others. You can rely more on your average speed than what you get at just one site.

Break Bad Reading Habits

You can’t speed read unless you “unlearn” or break bad habits you formed earlier on. Here are a few you should break and how to go about breaking them…

i. Re-reading or Regression

There are people who have formed the bad habit of going back to paragraphs, sentences or words they have read earlier. They do this because they want to “ensure” they really comprehend what’s being said in the passage. This reduces your speed seriously. Here’s how to break this habit…

Force yourself NOT to go back to what you’ve read earlier. You may find out that your comprehension drops at first but this should be overcome by the time you apply the tips I’ll share later in this article.

You can help yourself by using an index card to block text you’ve already gone through. Just place it above the line you are reading and block that line immediately you read through it and avoid any temptation to shift it back.

ii. Subvocalizing

Do you move your lips while reading? Do you whisper the words you are reading? Do you hear the words you are reading in your head? If you do any of the above then you are subvocalizing. Although it may be good for reading certain materials, it’s definitely bad for speed reading.

You speak at about 250 words per minute. Therefore, vocalizing or subvocalizing limits your reading speed to a maximum of 250 words per minute. So how do you stop subvocalizing?

Find out how you subvocalize and force yourself to stop it. It helps if you start skimming through documents and reading in blocks of text instead of word by word.

iii. Reading Word By Word

You really can’t read word by word without subvocalizing or vocalizing. This forces a limit on you based on how fast you can “sound” each word. The other downside to word-by-word reading is that it often makes it difficult for you to see the big picture the author intends (or main thrust of a discourse) because you are fixated on each word.

How do you break this bad habit? Focus on chunks of text. Understand that you don’t have to read every word of a document to get the information you need (a good part of any document is actually filler and NOT critical to comprehending the information you really need).

iv. Inefficient Eye Motion

Have you met people who seem to miss the next line or resume the line they just read when they get to the end? They likely have a poor eye motion. It’s also likely they are fixated on words. Let your eyes run ahead as you read. Make sure it locates the next line before you need to read it. Better still; train your eyes to focus on a block of text instead of just a word. The wider the array of words you focus on, the better your eye motion will be.

Using a pointer can be very helpful in correcting this. Just let the pointer run ahead while you read. The faster the pointer moves, the faster the reader is compelled to follow. The pointer can be a pencil or pen or anything that can help you “lead” your eyes in the direction it should go.

v. Poor Concentration

Poor concentration will always impair your reading speed and comprehension. There are people who brag about their ability to read in very noisy environments. If you are such a person then you likely subvocalize because that’s one way that you get to force your brain to focus on the document you are interested in. And as you might have read already, subvocalizing doesn’t help your reading speed.

So how do you deal with this? Make sure you don’t attempt to speed-read in an environment that’s noisy. Always look for a quiet spot where you can neither be distracted by sight or sound. Also, turn off every inner conversation and focus your attention on the task at hand. As you train yourself in this you will become better.

Now To Developing Speed

The truth is that you would have gained considerable speed by the time you get rid of the poor speed reading habits mentioned above. But here are specific things you still have to do in order to improve your speed considerably…

i. Scan Through First

Not every word in a sentence is necessary for you to comprehend it. There are a lot of redundant words. In fact, you can get the gist of a document by picking out the important sentences in it. Most of the others only elaborate or reinforce what’s been said already.

To do a good scan through, look for highlights, bullet points and any other thing that shows that the writer is calling your attention to that part of the document. A good scan will tell you what to expect in any document. You can then slow down at those key points.

ii. Read In Blocks of Text

You can train your brain to recognize blocks of text. That’s why a concert pianist can play a score that has over 4 independent parts at sight. He or she doesn’t have to analyze each note before playing the piece. The brain just recognizes it.

Think of it: You don’t spell each word before you read it. You just pick it. You can do the same for chunks of text. Granted, the chunk will be small at first but then it will increase as you develop the skill.

Technology Lends You A Helping Hand

It’s easy to lay out why and how to develop a skill. However, acquiring that skill may still prove impossible for a lot of people unless they have additional help. That’s where speed reading tools come in handy. Just do a search online and you will find software programs that will help you increase your reading speed.