From reading the newspaper to memorizing the textbooks the night before the exam, everything requires reading skills. While most people read as a hobby and have plenty of time to read slowly, others have limited time to finish reading important paperwork to keep up with deadlines.
If you are one of the latter, you must want to read faster. So how can one learn speed reading? Here are some tips that can help anyone with their reading speed, but first, let’s talk about why speed reading is important.
Importance of Learning Speed Reading
The primary and most important benefit of learning speed reading is that you will be able to read a lot more than others but in less time. Speed reading can increase your reading speed from 200 words a minute to approximately 600 words.
It doesn’t only increase the reading but also improves the comprehension of the reader. With improved comprehension, readers understand and grasp the information presented in the piece of writing faster. Such skills help both in personal and professional life. A speed reader is most likely to have more knowledge than normal people, as the extensive reading and fact picking abilities stay stored in their mind.
Speed reading also helps improve concentration levels, memory, problem-solving skills, confidence, and develop leadership abilities.
Tips for Learning Speed Reading
Now that you know how speed reading can help in almost all the fields of life, here are some tips for learning speed reading:
1. Stop that Subvocalization
Subvocalization is the process of imagining speaking all the words you read in your mind. Almost everyone subvocalizes without realizing that it is one of the major barriers to reading speed. Subvocalization may help memorize the concepts of a book; however, it slows down the reading speed.
To get rid of this inner monologue, one needs to understand that it is an entirely unnecessary practice, and one doesn’t need to read every single word in their head. For example, when you are driving, do you stop to read every signboard in your head? Of course not, you just look at it, and your mind processes the information automatically. This is exactly how one should read books and documents too.
To minimize the subvocalization, you can try humming or chewing gum while reading; this way, the muscles involved in subvocalization wouldn’t be free to do so. Moreover, if you have a habit of moving your lips while reading, try putting your finger on them.
2. Avoid Rereading the Words
Most people have the habit of rereading words. You can notice this habit in anyone; just focus on the eye movement of the person reading something, you will see how their eyes keep jumping and fliting. The reason is that an average person tends to backtrack the words he has already read, which in turn affects the reading speed.
You can either cover the lines you have read with a piece of paper or use a bookmark or your finger to keep track of your reading. Try as hard as you can not to go back to the previous words and continue until you have finished the page. Now, recall whatever you read; you will probably remember everything you read without rereading words.
3. Read Several Words at Once
Reading several words at once is called word chunking. While other tips are also helpful, word chunking may be the best practice to learn speed reading.
Start from a smaller number of words; for example, try reading only four words at one glance, and keep increasing the number of words you read at once as you keep practicing. Covering the next lines with a piece of paper and only reading a few words at once can help you a lot.
Make sure you are reading the sections not as words but as a whole thing. Read the word chunks just like you read the road signs at a glance. Keep practicing, and you will soon notice the change in your reading speed.
After much practice, you can try using peripheral vision and try reading one whole line at once instead of word groups.
4. Challenge Yourself
Try using a stopwatch or timer and read as fast as you can. Test yourself often, i.e., select a piece of writing and try to read it in a specific timeline.
You can set the timer for 1 minute and see how many paragraphs or pages you can read at this time. Create a record of your improvement. You can set daily or weekly goals, practice, and improve accordingly.
5. More Reading Means Better Speed Reading
People are always told to read more to improve their vocabulary, but there is barely someone who would tell you to read more because it helps in improving the reading speed. If you want to learn speed reading, you should be willing to read a lot more than you normally do.
You want to read faster, then read more; it will improve your reading skills, meaning your reading speed will also increase. Moreover, reading more will also allow you to absorb more information in less time without memorizing everything. Being obsessed with reading is what we mean here.
Methods of Speed Reading
There are three different speed reading methods used widely, but they all have one thing in common: avoiding subvocalization. Instead, you should skim through the piece of writing. The three methods of speed reading include:
1. The Pointer Method
The pointer method is also known as ‘meta guiding’ or ‘hand pacing. The method was introduced by a school teacher named Evelyn Nielsen Wood during the 1950s. Wood claimed that if she paced the lines with her finger, she could read at a speed of 2,700 wpm. This method was later named the pointer method, and the person using this method holds a card under the line they are reading and keeps drawing it through the page as they read.
2. The Tracker-and Pacer Method
The tracker-and-pacer method is another variant of the pointer method. The difference is that, instead of a card, the reader holds a pen with the cap on and tracks the reading with it. This method is known for increasing the reading speed as the focus only stays on the upcoming words.
3. The Scanning Method
As the name implies, in this method, the reader scans through the important points only. Instead of reading each word or line, the reader just goes through the whole page, scanning all the key points or sentences. However, one can only get better at scanning by practicing hard, as it’s not easy to find and scan the important points from a text without headings or bullet points.
Reading is an essential skill required for almost all fields of life, while speed reading is even more important because not everyone is free enough to spend an hour reading five pages. Even if it’s not for professional reasons, sometimes a novel is just too interesting that you cannot stop yourself from reading it as fast as possible; that’s where speed reading comes in handy.
Guide created by The Academy Piano & Voice