A tutorial to teach you 6 speed reading techniques to learn to read fast
Reading is a universal activity and certainly one of the most important skills to be able to gain new knowledge or access information. So, how can we organize this process in the most effective and efficient way? This is where speed reading comes into play, and the good news is anyone can learn how to speed read. It’s a powerful asset that can boost your career, increase your knowledge and improve your learning experience.
In this tutorial I will show you how to comprehend more while getting faster. You can enhance your skills by understanding the powerful yet simple combination of speed reading techniques that accelerated reading has to offer. Each section will also provide a link to more detailed information or a review.
There are three major approaches:
- Traditional offline methods (local classes, books or self-teaching)
- Desktop software (guided)
- Online Courses (guided)
Try it out: This post will summarize the topic to help you quickly understand the basics. It also includes links that will cover speed reading techniques and programs in more detail.
1. Hand Pacing Technique
Hand pacing is a simple reading improvement technique allowing you to read faster while maintaining a steady level of comprehension. Have you ever heard of the pointer method? Well most of us learned it during our school days but for some reason we stopped using this technique as we grew up.
The pointer method was developed by the creator of speed reading, Evelyn Wood. This method involved moving/sliding the index finger or a pointer across the page and below the sentence you are reading. This will increase your overall focus and speed. Pacing yourself is the quickest way to learn how to speed read.
2. Scanning and Previewing Techniques
Scanning and previewing techniques can enhance your skill of capturing the central idea of what you’re reading. This reading technique will teach you to scan for numbers, names and trigger words.
With time and practice you can increase your speed to identify key sentences in a paragraph. Expert speed readers are able to skim and comprehend a whole page within seconds.
When using this technique, make sure to look for items such as lists, points, graphs, indexes and subheadings. Identify these key items before getting into detail.
3. Word Group Speed Reading Techniques
Processing whole word groups involves reading chunks of words instead of reading individual words. The goal is to decrease the number of “stops” your eyes perform as you read. Once you start taking chunks of words, your comprehension skills will naturally increase, therefore your overall reading abilities will improve a great deal.
To get started read this article on reading chunks of words. It provides essential tips and training material. Fastreading.com has another in-depth and well-written article on this fast reading technique.
In the previous paragraphs we covered essential techniques you can try on your own. In the next ones we will discuss some popular software to assist you further.
4. Reverse Bad Reading Habits
To increase the effectiveness of your reading, be aware that certain habits can easily reduce efficiency. Most of us develop bad reading habits when growing up, typically in school.
Subvocalization (saying the words in your head) and regression (stepping back in text) are just the most common ones. They will often slow you down and have an adverse impact on your comprehension and text processing ability.
You may also face problems when reading in an unsuitable environment with poor light or loud sounds or when you are just tired. However, you can manage these issues quite easily if you are willing to set up the right conditions for your reading or studying.
Just a few tips to tackle bad habits
- Try to tackle habits individually in order to reduce or eliminate them.
- Scan before reading. Use linear and cross-shaped hand pacing patterns.
- While scanning look for unfamiliar words and deliberately subvocalize them.
- This will help reduce the temptation to subvocalize them later.
- Count numbers, sum a melody or chew gum to reduce subvocalization.
- Resist to go back in text. You will not miss important facts.
- Discipline your eyes. Train them to read smoothly from left to right.
There is a lot of material that you can read on the subject of overcoming bad habits. For a quick look visit the University of Alabama’s Center for Academic Success which has a simple list of how to correct some of these habits.
5. Learn How To Speed Read – Software & Courses
You can either use software, enroll in an online course or attend a live class to learn how to speed read. This can be a very effective approach as those courses and tutors focus on advanced speed reading techniques, guided reading exercises, video tutorials, speed tests, and scientific methods to help you get rid of bad habits.
Below are four popular courses/tools that have been found to be helpful and effective by many students around the globe. However, these are just two recommendations, and we encourage you to do your research before enrolling into a course of your choice.
Iris Reading (read review) is one of the most recognized institutions to learn faster reading techniques. You can book a live class in many cities in the U.S. and Canada. Iris also offers in-person classes in the U.K., India, China, Brazil, Russia or Singapore. Alternatively, you may enroll yourself in one of their online video courses.
7-Speed-Reading (read review) refers to seven different learning techniques teaching you how to read more efficiently. The strategies are particularly designed to facilitate the natural learning curve of students, adult learners and professionals. Most users therefore review the program as effective, interactive and fun.
A great value are the in-depth video training courses featuring six globally recognized speed reading experts. The topics range from memory improvement to handling work load more efficiently to advanced reading improvement techniques.
Become a SuperLearner
Become a SuperLearner (read review) will not only increase your reading speed but also to boost your memory capabilities. The goal is to combine speed with improved abilities in memory, recalling, retention and comprehension.
SuperLearner is instructed by recognized teachers who themselves have extensive experience int he field of learning, speed reading and memory improvements. Students will learn to memorize and recall large amounts of information and store them permanently.
Eye-Hop™ by Alchemy Training Unlimited
This is a (free) word-group-reading course and can be used both online and offline. It is beneficial for those who like to read in a physical format. This tool can help you develop your comprehension and overall focus. The project will train you to read multiple words at once, hence it will assist you in becoming faster and focused.
For material please visit Ron Cole’s website. It offers four PDF files for download. Each PDF includes instructions, found at the end of the file. It allows you to set your own pace before progressing to the next level. You can also create your own training sheets there.
6. Reading Speed Test
There are many online tests (read list of tests) to choose from and it can be very beneficial to do one before you actually start learning how to speed read. The image on the right links to a free test that will also test comprehension. However, in this paragraph we will discuss and analyze the manual test.
A manual test is very simple; just grab a book and a stop watch. Start reading a paragraph and time yourself. You can follow these steps for a quick and easy result:
- Select a book of your choice.
- Choose a paragraph to read.
- Time yourself. Monitor how long it takes to read a complete paragraph.
- Count the words you have just read.
- Consider the time and words a benchmark for you to improve on.
- Try Increasing the speed gradually and remember to quantify your performance.
Always start at a normal speed as rushing it will decrease accuracy. You may choose paragraphs on different pages to achieve a precise time measure. You can use the results as a measure of performance and can improve your speed while trying different methods.
Tip: Relax and Train Your Eye Muscles
Speed reading can be compared with physical training in a metaphorical way. Like athletes who develop physical skills to use in their sport, the speed reader needs their eye muscles to be in good condition. Just as with other muscles, the eye muscles also need care and training and this will benefit the reader in many ways.
Eyes can get exhausted very quickly and this makes reading a challenge. A good technique is to give your eyes rest between training or reading sessions. Do not strain the muscles too much because with training, you will be able to develop your muscles eventually.
How to Speed Read – Last but not least…
This blog post by Tim Ferris packs the whole “reading-improvement” topic into a 10 minute program, which I personally find really insightful. Feel feel to try. This is the link.
Have you got any suggestions? Did you learn how to speed read? I’m looking forward to hearing from you or you may simply post a comment to share further speed reading techniques. Thanks a lot for reading.
Please share this tutorial.