Want to get through this article faster?
While the average adult can get through about 250 words each minute at a 70 percent comprehension rate, speed readers can get through up to 500 words or more just as quickly while still comprehending the material. That means they can read twice as fast as typical readers. Imagine what that kind of speed could do for your productivity at work, your research and your level of knowledge.
These tips from speed reading pros will improve your speed without compromising your comprehension levels:
Rely on a Pointer
Even when you are focusing on a particular object, your eyes still briefly move away from your focus. They do this to gather information, and you can use this tool to increase your reading speed.
Many people struggle to keep their reading position, and this is due to the constant movement of the eyes. To prevent this issue and boost your reading speed, use a pointer. The tip of a finger will do – just move it along with your gaze as you read a line of text. At first, you may feel this technique is slowing you down, but you will soon adjust and see your speed improve.
Focus on Control Instead of Speed
Reading quickly is only helpful if you can still comprehend what you have read. Think about cars – anyone can make them go fast by stepping on the pedal, but only talented professional drivers can control them at top speeds. Instead of blazing through texts as fast as you possibly can, aim for a speed at which you can still understand and remember what you have read.
Beginner readers often say words aloud. This is valuable in teaching pronunciation, but it decreases your reading speed. Even if you aren't actually moving your mouth and making sounds, you can still vocalize words in your head. This is called subvocalization, and it has the same slowing effect as reading aloud.
To break a pattern of subvocalizing, try moving your pointer at a speed greater than you can subvocalize. You may be surprised that you can still understand what you are reading without saying the words “aloud” in your head.
Speed reading is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes time and practice to hone. You'll see your reading rate improve the more you read.
To gauge your starting point and your progress, take this self-test once a week or once a month:
- Set a timer for 60 seconds.
- Mark your starting point in a reading passage.
- Read until the 60 seconds are up.
- Make another mark where you finished reading.
- Count the lines you finished reading.
- Next, look at the second line you read and write down the number of words in it, including short words.
- Finally, multiple the number of words times the number of lines you read. This is your reading speed in words per minute.
With practice, you should see this number improve over time!