In the age of information speed reading is the key to
stay ahead and be among the elite. Today information is more available than
ever before, it's just waiting for us to take it, and a good part of that
information is written and therefore needs to be read. That's when speed
reading comes to play. Most people read as fast as they speak (up to 240 words
per minute) or at best as fast as they hear (up to 360 wpm) which means that
your reading speed would be significantly or somehow limited. The purpose of this
page is to make your speed jump from less than 200 words per minute to 500 wpm
or more without compromising the comprehension level, if not increasing it as
well. You will also be able to take a Speed Reading.
See the chart below...
Type of readers
Less than 150 wpm
While it is slow reading that's not necessarily a bad
thing, it means that you will benefit from this page more than anyone else.
151 to 240 wpm
Your key improvement is to suppress your sub-vocalization,
try to read without having to say what you read in your inner mind
241 to 360 wpm
You might have improved to start reading as fast as you
hear, that's a good thing but you can improve more.
361 wpm and up
This is the ultimate goal in this page. To read the
words by visualization, which is the fastest way to read compared to
the other two (oral and auditory reading).
Once you know your approximate level then you might want to improve it especially if your speed is less than 240 wpm.
There are many techniques to increase your reading speed; here are 7 steps that might help you achieve that:
1 - Stop reading to yourself. As you read you probably sub-vocalize, or pronounce the words to yourself. Almost everybody does it, although to different degrees: some people actually move their lips or say the words under their breath, while others simply say each word in their heads. Regardless of how you sub-vocalize, it slows you down. (You are concerned with speed reading here, not reading to practice communicating the material verbally, which can be done later if you find it necessary). To break the habit, try to be conscious of it. When you notice yourself pronouncing words to yourself, try to stop doing it. It may help to focus on key words and skip over others, or you may want to try humming to yourself in order to prevent sub-vocalizing, probably your comprehension will be reduced while humming, but that will serve you well as you break the habit of sub-vocalizing, and you may find no need for humming soon after.
2 - Use skimming, with practice, you will be able to identify the most important parts of an article or book as you skim through it. Look over the entire piece very quickly. Try to find patterns of repeated words, key ideas, when you actually do your reading you may be able to skim over large portions of the text, slowing only when you come to something you know is important. You will get the greatest time savings from speed reading by learning to skim excessively detailed documents.
3 - Train yourself not to reread. Most people frequently stop and skip back to words or sentences they just read to try to make sure they understood the meaning. This is usually unnecessary, but it can easily become a habit, and many times you will not even notice you're doing it. One exercise to help you avoid rereading is to take a sheet of paper or index card and drag it down the page as you read, covering each line once you've read it. Try to drag the card in a steady motion; start slowly, and increase your speed as you feel more comfortable.
4 - Read with your hand. Smooth, consistent eye motion is essential to speed reading. You can maximize your eyes' efficiency by using your hand to guide them. One such method is to simply draw your hand down each page as you read. You can also brush your hand under each line you read, as if you are brushing dust off the lines. Your eyes instinctively follow motion, and the movement of your hand serves to keep your eyes moving constantly forward.
5 - Practice reading blocks of words. Nearly everyone learned to read word-by-word or even letter-by-letter, but once you know the language, that's not the most efficient method of reading. Not every word is important, and in order to read quickly, you'll need to read groups of words - or even whole sentences or short paragraphs - instantaneously. The good news is you probably already do this to some extent: most people read three or four words at a time. Once you make an effort to be aware of your reading style, you'll discover how many words you read at a time. Now you just need to increase that number. Using your hand as a guide may help, or simply by holding a book a little further from your eyes than you usually do. A skilled reader will read many words in each block. He or she will only dwell on each block for an instant, and will then move on. Only rarely will the reader's eyes skip back to a previous block of words. This reduces the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do. It also increases the volume of information that can be assimilated in a given period of time. A poor reader will become bogged down, spending a lot of time reading small blocks of words. He or she will skip back often, losing the flow and structure of the text, and confusing his or her overall understanding of the subject. This irregular eye movement makes reading tiring. Poor readers tend to dislike reading, and they may find it harder to concentrate, and understand written information.
6 - Time yourself. The minimum length of time needed to read each block is probably only a quarter of a second. By pushing yourself to reduce the time you take, you will get better at picking up information quickly. Again, this is a matter of practice and confidence.
7 - Practice and push yourself. While you may see some gains in speed the moment you start using these tips, speed reading is a skill that requires a lot of practice. Always push yourself to your comfort level and beyond - if you end up having to reread a section, it's not a big deal. Keep practicing regularly. It would be nice to time yourself while practicing to check for improvement.
The goals of speed reading are:
- Increasing the number of words read in each block.
- Reducing the length of time spent reading each block.
- And reducing the number of times your eyes skip back to a previous sentence. A Quick Summery of Speed Reading:
By speed reading you can accumulate information more quickly. You may also get a better understanding of it, as you will hold more of it in short term memory.
To improve the speed of your reading, read more words in each block and reduce the length of time spent reading each block. Use a pointer to smooth the way your eyes move and reduce skip-back.
Some quotes about reading and books:
“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy” Edward P. Morgan.
“Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.” Anne Rice, The Witching Hour, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990, p. 261.
“In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882), Letters and Social Aims: Quotation and Originality, 1876.
“The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.” Mark Twain, (1835 - 1910).
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx, 1890-1977.
“A big book is like a serious relationship; it requires a commitment. Not only that, but there's no guarantee that you will enjoy it, or that it will have a happy ending.” Mick Foley.
“Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.” Bell Hooks.
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