To get through a set amount of information, knowing that you are going to be tested on it, is not a fun way to spend time. However, by improving your speed reading skills you will find that you can get through text quicker while maintaining the same level of comprehension – or better! Why not learn how to speed read?
Learn How To Speed Read
It is a common misconception that fast reading leads to lower concentration levels and retention of information. In fact, it is the opposite that is true – by reading slowly, you encourage your brain to slow down and comprehend less. It has been proven that the faster we read, the higher the motivation of the reader; words seem more important as they pass by, and our brains donate more resources to concentration.
Every reader already uses one speed reading skill or another to different degrees. The brain wants to get through information quickly – the way we’ve been taught to read each syllable at a time slows us down. Once you have learnt and mastered the following skills, you’ll find that reading faster feels even more natural than how you’ve been doing it your whole life!
The first step is to calculate your current reading speed. Select a book, preferably one you’ve not read before. Set a timer for two minutes and begin reading. Don’t try to read quickly, just go at your normal pace. Once the timer sounds, mark your beginning and end points, then count how many words are found on a single given line. Multiple this by however many lines you have read, and divide by two to get the total of words you read per minute. Set this number aside for later comparison. For reference, the average reader takes in 200 – 240 words per minute. Let’s see if we can improve that!
1. Get Friendly With Your Text
Flick through the text you’ll be studying and get accustomed to its layout, colors, font size, and paragraphing. Stop every now and then to read a few lines that interest you, and pay attention to any diagrams. This prepares your brain for study, and spikes your interest in the material, even if you’ve read the text before.
Regular users of the Internet have naturally improved their skimming abilities, and instinctively flick their eyes over large amounts of information to scan for relevant or interesting content. This skill can be applied to study texts and is the first step in Speed Reading.
Before you begin, identify what it is you want to learn from the text. Then glance over the pages and look for it. By allowing yourself to skim content, you will generally be reading headings, subheadings, the first lines of each paragraph, and the bottom of the page. This is ideal, as these places are where the more useful information is generally found, compacted into easily understood statements. Once you’ve identified where the answers to your questions might be, skim over those areas in greater detail!
This method results in better retention, as the brain isn’t overloaded with useless facts or boredom. Connections are quickly made between new information and known information, which activates the memory banks and makes recall quicker in the future.
When reading, the eye does not move in a straight line across the page. It takes jumps, wanders around, and regularly stops on words or phrases that the brain considers “difficult”. An average person spends 30% of reading time backtracking and re-reading words, or even entire lines. This does not increase comprehension, but wastes a good deal of time.
Meta Guiding is an easy way to quickly improve your reading speed. This is a process of placing the tip of a pen or finger on the page or screen and following along with the eyes. You will stop backtracking, stay focused, and subliminally tell your brain that this information is so important that it must remember it.
After a lifetime of slowing down and re-reading statements in an effort to comprehend them more, it may feel counter-intuitive to refuse to do so. Don’t worry – you can trust your brain to pick up on these signals! After you’ve read through the relevant text, assess how many of your answers to your original questions you have found – you’ll be surprised how much you learnt, reading so fast!
4. Silent Mind
Instead of reading each letter and syllable of each word, most adult readers take an impression of the word, quickly sound it out, and affix a meaning to it. This mostly happens automatically, but still takes longer than needs be.
By skimming large chunks of text and using Meta Guiding, the brain doesn’t have time to sound out every single word. Instead, it skips the middle step and goes straight from the impression through to the meaning. This does not reduce comprehension – in fact, the meaning of a passage of text is more deeply understood and readily recalled in the future.
Encourage your mind to remain silent while you speed read by studying in quiet, comfortable setting, sitting up straight, in good light. If your mind wants something to do, remind it of what answers you’re looking for in the text you’re reading.
Once you have been practicing speed reading for a week, test yourself again and see how many words per minute you can comprehend After only one week, you could be reading over double the amount in half the time!
Netflix enthusiast, horrible speller, jiujitsu hobbyist, weekend drinker, and occasional poker player. Favorite quote is “[o]ut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”