A Tutorial To Teach You 6 Speed Reading Techniques To Read Faster
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.
This tutorial will show you how to comprehend more while improving your reading speed. You can easily enhance your skills by understanding the powerful combination of speed reading techniques available. An infographic at the end of this post will also summarize some of these core concepts.
Explore three major approaches to get started:
- Traditional offline methods (local classes, books or self-teaching)
- Online Courses (guided)
- Desktop software (guided)
Try it out: This tutorial will encourage you to teach yourself and help you understand the basics. In each chapter you will also find additional reading and training resources 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
The word group reading technique is considered to be the most beneficial when practicing how to speed read. Additionally, it is also one of the most difficult speed reading techniques to learn.
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 article on this topic. The three basic fast reading techniques discussed above are meant to speed you up. In the next chapter we will look at some techniques to improve your comprehension and recalling abilities.
4. Reading Comprehension Techniques
Reading comprehension is the ability to read text, to process it and to understand it. This sounds simple for now, but it is actually not. Understanding can be a difficult concept. The brain processes new knowledge with full cognizance of the existing cognitive structure.
This means that the new knowledge must be related to other knowledge that is already stored in the brain. The way in which you comprehend (or understand) what you read will depend upon the association that is made with the knowledge structure you already have.
Why is it important?
There can be absolutely no point in reading if you cannot comprehend the meaning of the text or if you cannot integrate the new information with your existing memory structures. The good news is that there is much that you can do to improve your reading comprehension and it will benefit you while learning how to speed read.
How to speed read and improve comprehension?
✓ Improve your vocabulary. In order to understand what you read you need to know what the words that you are reading means but this is by no means enough. So many words have a myriad of meanings that depend upon the context within which they are used. Improving your vocabulary does not just entail the memorization of new words. You also have to study the different contexts within which those words can be used to convey different meanings.
✓ Visualization & memory techniques. Human comprehension depends upon the ability to visualize and memorize. If you master techniques such as brain maps or building a memory palace you will be much better able to visualize and memorize the new information that you are reading and you will most certainly improve your comprehension in the process. Apart from a better understanding, you will also be able to recall information more reliable.
Read more here: Visualization Techniques | Memory Techniques
✓ Take notes and summarize. When you take notes whilst reading you are forcing yourself to interpret what you read. If you find it very difficult or even impossible to summarize text into short notes you know that you have not fully comprehended the text. It is best to summarize only once you have (speed) read a logical section of text that deals with a specific concept.
✓ Keep the subject matter in mind. If you keep the main subject of your material in mind while you are reading, you will find it much easier to understand the true meaning of specific words or phrases. For example, if you are reading a book on machine learning, the use of the term “elegant” will refer to a sophisticated programming technique, not to a well dressed person.
✓ Preview the text. Because comprehension depends a lot on your ability to understand the meaning of words and phrases within their context, you may benefit from skimming the text before you actually start reading. This speed reading technique has been discussed above and will help you to understand the author’s main idea quickly.
✓ Ask yourself questions. After previewing jot down the main questions that want to find an answer to. When you read, stop every now and again and ask yourself further questions relating to the text you have read. This will help you to organize your thinking and to verbalize the meaning that you derived from the text. As an added bonus you will find it much easier to relate your new knowledge to existing memory structures.
5. 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.
In the previous paragraphs we covered essential speed reading techniques you can try on your own. In the next ones we will discuss some popular software to assist you further.
6. 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 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 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 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.
7. 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. Below is an infographic with useful tips. I have also summarized a few FAQ questions for convenience afterwards. Thanks a lot for reading.
Click “Share” buttons below to add infographic to your Pinterest board.
FAQ – Questions and Answers – Speed Reading
How to speed read? Quick Tips
- Preview and skim material. Set a reading goal.
- Ask questions Who, Where, What, When, Why and How.
- Use your finger, a pen or a mouse as a pacing tool.
- Read chunks of words. Start with 2-3 phrases then move up.
- Improve vocabulary to identify words faster.
- Improve memory skills to better remember and recall information.
- Eliminate bad reading habits (subvocalization, regression).
What is speed reading techniques?
It is a powerful asset of effective reading techniques to increase reading speed, improve comprehension, reduce habits such as subvocalization and regression or to quickly preview material such as books, articles and documents. The most common speed reading techniques include hand pacing, previewing and chunking.
What is the meaning of subvocalization?
Do you pronounce the words while reading them? That is called subvocalization and is recognized as a bad reading habit as it will slow down readers. When learning to speed read, the goal is to eliminate subvocalization and rather visualize information.
How fast is speed reading?
Speed reading is reading significantly faster than average. There is no specific minimum speed, however, a minimum of 350-400WPM (words per minute) is considered to be reasonable. A well-structured training program can help increase average reading speeds up to 600wpm while keeping comprehension at 80-90%.
How can I increase my reading speed and comprehension?
- Improve your vocabulary. Learn common prefixes and suffixes.
- Apply visualization & memory techniques.
- Take notes and summarize. Create mind maps.
- Keep the subject matter in mind.
- Preview the text and get the author’s main idea.
- Ask relevant questions before you read.
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