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Increase Speed Reading Skills and Comprehension

December 4th, 2008

increase-speed-reading.jpgIn our modern computer age filled with e-mails, e-books, websites, blogs, and many types of printed materials, increasing your reading speed is an important skill that can help you deal with the problem of information overload without stressing out or missing anything important. While it may seem counterintuitive at first, with practice the techniques of speed reading can actually increase comprehension and allow you to extract the main ideas from a book or article more efficiently. Here are a few techniques for how to increase your reading speed so that you can be more productive in your educational endeavors.

1. Remove distractions. If you’re going to practice speed reading, it always helps to find a quiet place where you can concentrate your full efforts on reading quickly while absorbing as much material as you can. Any kind of environmental noise such as conversations, televisions, cell phones, or even background music can dilute your brain’s concentration and reduce your overall reading efficiency.

2. Consider what kind of book you are going to read. Some types of writing such as poetry, archaic literature, or technical manuals are not well suited to speed reading because you will need more time to decipher the meaning of the words. It’s best to practice on text where you can easily understand the language used and do not need to concern yourself with technical details.

3. Do a quick pre-reading. By taking a few minutes to get a good overview of the book, you can determine its most important parts and focus on these for comprehension. After scanning the cover text and author bio, look at the table of contents to quickly learn about the book’s basic subject matter. If available, also skim through section titles, pull-out quotes, summaries, tables, and diagrams to glean important facts and information before diving into the main body of the text.

4. Read the important chapters. Some books have one or two chapters that represent the real “meat” of the book while the others are mostly filler material. If this is the case, remember that there is no universal rule that says you must read pages or chapters in exact order, so you might as well dig into the good parts first.

5. Avoid actually pronouncing the words. Some readers have developed a habit of subvocalizing, either by moving their lips as they read or by sounding out the words in their mind. This method is too slow for speed reading; instead, it is better to read solely with the eyes and transfer the information to the brain directly without trying to pronounce each word.

6. Be careful about back-skipping. Another thing that slows down many readers is back-skipping, the practice of going back and rereading something that was just read in order to think about its meaning. It is possible to train yourself to avoid this practice by using some type of card and moving it down the page at a constant pace as you read. If the card stops suddenly in the middle of reading, you will know that you have either skipped back or paused too long on the page.

7. Use your peripheral vision to read groups of words. One of the main differences between speed readers and average or slow readers is that the faster people are able to scan the page and read more than one word at a time, digesting larger phrases and sifting out their meaning. This can be accomplished by avoiding an overly narrow focus on single words and instead using one’s peripheral vision to process whole phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs before moving further down the page.

8. Use a timer to track your progress. As you are developing the “speed reading eye”, you can measure how well you are doing by counting up the words on your pages and using a timer to see how long it takes you to read a page before and after several practice sessions. With patience and persistence, it is possible to double your reading speed while still retaining as much or more knowledge from your written materials as before.

Meanwhile, if you want to increase speed reading skills to the next level, there are helpful guides available such as Speed Reader X or Stephen Manley’s manual that can provide additional training and techniques to help you get the most out of anything you read.

One Response to “Increase Speed Reading Skills and Comprehension”

  1. comment number 1 by: Colin

    Haha, I definitely have trouble with Pronouncing the word while I read, i didn’t notice this but when I took a Speed Reading course, that’s when I knew that i have problem with subvocalizing words…anyways, nice tips

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