Most people would like to be able to read faster. How much more work would you get done or books could you complete if you could only read faster? Reading a book can be a really enjoyable pastime and can teach you so much but do you really want to spend hours or even weeks reading the same book? Wouldn’t it be great to dramatically cut down the time it takes you to read a book? Many people mistakenly believe that speed reading is difficult and is something you either can or can't do. It’s something that can be learned and mastered if you have the right information, tools, and exercises to follow.
Whether you’re stuck in a good book that you just can’t put down or you have to read through hundreds of pages for an exam, so much time could be saved by speed reading. No matter what the subject is though, you need to be enthusiastic about reading it. Enthusiasm allows us to focus and absorb more information, this helps people to read faster and remember more of the contact that they read. It can be hard to be enthusiastic about reading if the topic is uninteresting, it can lead to procrastination which wastes more time and can even generate mental stress which is bad for your health. If you are looking to understand more about what speed reading is and the top tips to learning to speed read, then take a look at the tips below.
What is speed reading?
Speed reading is not as simple as it sounds. Yes, it is the process of reading, but it is also the ability to recognize and absorb the sentences on the page all at once compared to identifying individual words. We have to process a large amount of information every day, especially if your studying or have a job that requires reading. We might read emails, books, magazine, reports, and websites for work, and this is a lot of information to take in. If you can’t read quickly and keep up to date you can feel left out or at a disadvantage compared to the people who can read quickly.
Some people can naturally read faster than others, but on average most people can read 250 words per minute. If you were able to teach yourself to speed read, you might be able to double this amount of words in a shorter time.
How to speed read?
Speed reading is fascinating, it is something that everyone has the ability to do but most people chose not to push the limits of their eyes. When we are young, we are taught to read as a basic skill, a skill that people settle with and never decide to heighten or sharpen. If your job or studies include a lot of reading or you just enjoy reading as a hobby, think about how much time you could save and books you could finish if only you could read faster. Here are the top 8 tips on how to speed read.
There are a few different methods of and helpful tips that people follow when teaching themselves how to speed read. The one thing they all have in common is to avoid “hearing” and pronouncing each individual word in your head as you read through the text. This is known as sub-vocalization. Instead, you need to “skim” the lines, this is because you can understand quicker than you can pronounce them.
The best way to practice this is by focusing on a group of words instead of an individual word. Relax your face and relax your gaze on the text, this way you should stop seeing words as individuals and instead as groups of text.
Scanning the text involves moving your eyes rapidly down the page and trying to recognize specific words and different phrases as you go along the text. Identify key sentences of each paragraph, names, numbers or trigger words that you think are important to the text you are reading. Using the scanning method, you will not be reading every word on the page, but your eye will identify what is most important and you will understand the idea of the text. When using this method, it might be useful to use a mind map to organize any information you take in, you might want to try and learn how to expand your peripheral vision to help with this technique.
Just like a running stretching before a race, a speed reader needs to make sure their eye muscles are in good shape before reading. If your eyes are tired and exhausted, reading becomes more difficult. To keep your eyes in good shape you should give them rest between reading sessions to avoid straining them. After practicing your reading sessions often your eye muscles will get stronger and better and you will be able to read faster and for longer periods of time without damaging your eyes.
You also need to be able to control your eye movement while reading. The majority of people struggle to keep their eyes moving in a single, straight line without needing to re-read what they went over. Start paying attention to your eyes and what they are doing while you are reading. You will soon realize how often they go back on themselves or don’t even look at the text. Here are some exercises you can do to help train and restrict the movement of your eyes:
- Move your head from left to right, while also copying the movement with your eyes. Most people when they move their head look in one or two places, don’t do this. Try to move your eyes along with the movement of your head from left to right.
- Now try to keep your eyes still while looking forward. Start moving your head from left to right but keep your eyes completely still focusing on one spot. This will test your eye muscles too.
- Lastly, keep your head straight and start looking from left to right with your eyes. Do not move your head, only move your eyes. These exercises will work out each core component you need to use to master speed reading.
Keeping your eyes fixed in place helps you to focus on a single word that you feel is important and would like to remember. Moving your eyes along with your head helps to create a relaxed motion and help you stay fixed n the line you want to read, this would help with the pointing technique. Teaching your eyes to scan straight lines gives you an extra amount of control and you will be able to scan lines of text much faster then you could before.
It can be difficult but try to create an environment that has as few distractions as possible to allow yourself to focus. Also, if you find yourself checking your phone or playing on Facebook while you are trying to read, stop! Hide your phone, turn off the internet and focus on your reading. Move and hide anything that can distract you and can cause procrastination. Remember to keep practicing, if you really want to be able to master speed reading then you need to practice as much as you can, It won’t happen ever night but if you keep at it, the better you will become and you will be able to speed read before you know it.
When speed readers read a page of text, they do not read every single word. This is very important to understand because if you try to read every single word of the page you will be seriously slowed down. There are plenty of small words within blocks of text that do not help you or add to your understanding of the text. Words like “If”, “it”, “to” and some other small and insignificant words fill up the sentence but add more time to your reading.
You will still be able to understand the text as these sentence fillers do not contribute to the body of the text itself. Train your eyes to ignore and skip over these words and over time your brain will naturally move across any unimportant words and focus on the significant words. Cutting out these small words will save you so much more time when reading and help you read so much faster without lessening your understanding of the text.
The pointing technique
This is a very popular technique and it’s incredibly easy to do, and also most likely the way you were taught to read at school. The pointer method or it can also be called hand pacing, invented by Evelyn Wood in the 1950s who claims she could read up to 2,700 words per minute due to this technique. All you have to do is slide your finger across the page underneath the sentence you want to read, this will hugely increase your focus and heighten your reading pace. This method is one of the most popular and fastest methods used to teach you how to speed read, so give it a try!
Speed reading rest
Test yourself while reading to see which method suits you personally. To do a manual test, you will need to use a stopwatch with a second’s hand and time how quickly you can read certain texts. Take any book you like and choose a specific paragraph, then time yourself reading it and see how long it takes you to read it and exactly how many words you have read. Then as you start to practice with different methods carry on recording yourself reading the same text and you will quickly see what method helps you to improve the most.
A lot of people think that word grouping is the best and most beneficial technique when learning how to speed read, but it is also very hard to master. Word grouping is skipping single words and processing large groupings of words and minimizing the number of breaks your eyes perform as you read the text.
Reading sentences in groups dramatically improves your reading speed and helps you have a better idea of compound ideas, this means that you can understand what you are reading even at a fast pace. There are many different guides of this method online available so you can try and teach yourself, this method is difficult, but it can be done so make sure you practice often and don’t give up.
Reverse bad reading habits
There are certain habits that people pick up without knowing that can reduce speed reading efficiency. A lot of these habits are picked up at young age and at school. Of cause the main bad habit is subvocalization and this will slow you down and have a negative impact on your apprehension and text processing ability.
Where you decide to do your reading will determine your ability to succeed in learning to speed read If the environment you are in is dark, badly lit or has lots of loud sounds, then these issues will not help your ability to learn. You need to set up the correct conditions to benefit yourself and your reading.
Now you have all the basic information and tips you need to teach yourself how to speed read. Speed reading is something that everyone has the ability to do but don’t seem to understand how or even know that they can. Learning to speed read will dramatically improve your life and open up more free time for you to focus on other things. It’s also an incredible and unique skill that not many people have, and you can feel proud that you taught yourself to speed read. It can benefit your life in many different ways and help you become more knowledgeable in a quicker time.