INTRODUCTIONThe average college student only reads between 250 and 350 wpm. There are people who can read more than a thousand words per minute! The free speed reading course provided on this website is designed to help you become one of those who's reading comprehension is amazing.
You can double your reading speed and understand the materials you are reading. Many people, probably you included, find reading rapidly a very difficult task. You're probably afraid that as you increase your speed, you may not be able to understand the concepts and information being read.
You don't have to put up with a reading speed that causes you to take a month or more to finish a novel. Even worse is not being able to find what you're looking for in a reference or technical book and you need to complete an assignment in school, or at work, before the due date.
According to studies, the relationship between reading speed and comprehension is directly proportional to each other. That is, an increase in rate entails an increase in reading comprehension. This free speed reading program will help you double your reading speed and increase your understanding of the materials being read.
Not only will your new reading skills be beneficial, learning the skill of speed reading is simple and takes only a few techniques to apply. Speed reading is not only useful in reading for pleasure but is absolutely necessary when used in learning and studying. In these cases, time is essential. And if you can make things faster and a lot easier, you're less likely to get stressed out.
"Speed reading can change your life for the better." -Sherrick DuCannibis
Do you know that almost anyone can double his reading speed while maintaining equal or even higher comprehension with what he is reading? In other words, improving the speed with which he gets what he wants from reading is not a problem for anyone at all!
IMPROVING READING RATE
Isn’t that great to hear?
It is a fact that an average college student reads between 250 and 350 words per minute (wpm) on fiction and non-technical materials. But the reading speed that is considered “good” should be around 500 to 700 wpm. And yet, other people can read 1,000 wpm or even faster on these kinds of materials. What makes the difference? Actually, there are three main factors involved in improving one’s reading speed: (1) the desire to improve, (2) the willingness to try new techniques and (3) the motivation to practice.
Learning to read rapidly and well presupposes that you have enough vocabulary and necessary comprehension skills. When you have achieved your understanding to the level where you are able to comprehend college-level materials, then you can say that you are completely ready to speed reading practice in earnest.
However, don't let a lack of vocabulary skill hinder you. The idea is to learn to read and comprehend far more rapidly than you do now. Part of that process will be also improving your vocabulary by simply reading more frequently and being exposed to a wider range of word usage.
SPEED-READING & COMPREHENSIONSpeed has a vital role in the reading process and an understanding of it is essential. Research has shown a close relation between speed and understanding.
Progress charts of thousands of individuals taking reading training were deliberated and it has been found in most cases that an increase in rate has been paralleled by an increase in comprehension; also, where rate has gone down, comprehension has also decreased. Although there is at present little statistical evidence, it seems that slow (or word-by-word) reading prevents thorough understanding of the material. The factors producing slow reading may also be involved in lowered comprehension.
Most adults though are able to increase their rate of reading considerably and rather quickly without lowering comprehension. These same individuals seldom show an increase in comprehension when they reduce their rate. In other cases, comprehension is actually better at faster speed of reading.
Such results, of course, are primarily dependent upon the method used to gain the increased rate. Simply reading more rapidly without actual improvement in basic reading habits like vocabulary, grammar, etc. usually results in lowered comprehension.
By improving your comprehension of what you read, and reading more frequently, you can also gain vocabulary skills through association of unfamiliar words within the context of the material you are reading. Initially, you may have to slow down a bit, and sometimes come to a halt while you consult a dictionary. But with continual, frequent reading, you can build vocabulary skills by understanding how words are used within the context of what you are reading.
Your program for maximum reading speed increase should establish 4 basic conditions. These include:
BASIC CONDITIONS FOR INCREASED READING RATE
1. Have your eyes checked. Reading uses the eyes as the most basic and essential tool. So before getting on a speed reading program, make sure to have your eyes examined by eye doctors for any correctable eye defects you may have. Often, very slow reading is related to uncorrected eye defects. Taking care of the eyes is also as important.
2. Eliminate the habit of pronouncing words as you read. Reading silently is 2-3 times faster than reading aloud because sounding out words in the throat takes a lot more time. If you are aware of sounding or "hearing" words as you read, try to concentrate on key words and meaningful ideas as you force yourself to read faster.
3. Avoid regressing (rereading). The average student reading rate of 250 wpm regresses about 20 times per page. Rereading words and phrases is a habit which will slow your reading speed down to a snail's pace. Usually, regressing is not necessary anymore since the ideas you want will still be explained and elaborated more fully in later contexts. Furthermore, the slowest reader usually regresses most frequently. Because he reads slowly, his mind has time to wander and his rereading reflects both his inability to concentrate and his lack of confidence in his comprehension skills.
4. Develop a wider eye-span. This will help you read more at each glance and will let you learn to read by phrases or thought units, instead of word-by-word.
READING RATE ADJUSTMENTPoor results are inevitable if the reader attempts to use the same reading rate generally for a-1 types of material and for all reading purposes. He must learn to adjust his rate depending on what his purpose in reading is and how difficult it is to read the material. This ranges from a maximum rate of easy, familiar, interesting and particular materials, to minimal rate on material which is unfamiliar in content and language structure or which must be thoroughly digested. The effective reader adjusts his rate while the ineffective one uses the same rate for all types of material and purpose.
Rate adjustment may be done completely as a whole or internally within the article. The former is called overall adjustment in which the reader establishes the basic rate at which the total article is read, while the latter is referred to as internal adjustment that involves the necessary variations in rate for each varied part of the material. As an analogy, let’s take for example a 100-mile mountain trip. Since this journey will be a relatively hard drive with hills, curves, and a mountain pass, you decide to take three hours for the total trip, averaging about 35 miles an hour. This is your overall rate adjustment. However, in actual driving, you may slow down to at least 15 miles per hour on some curves and hills, while speeding up to 50 miles per hour or more on relatively straight and level sections. This is your internal rate adjustment. Thus, there is no actual fixed rate in which good readers follow inflexibly in reading a particular selection, even though he has set himself an overall rate for the total job.
Overall rate adjustment depends on your reading plan, your reading purpose, and the nature and difficulty of the material. The general reading rate to be used should be specified in the plan. The purpose will then fully determine the rate to be used. For example, to understand information, skim or scan at a rapid rate; to determine value of material or to read for enjoyment, read rapidly or slowly according to your feelings; or to read analytically, read at a moderate pace to totally absorb the ideas. The nature and difficulty of the material, on the other hand, requires an adjustment in rate in conformity with your ability to handle that type of material.
Obviously, level of difficulty is highly relative to the particular reader. Take for instance Einstein's theories. Though they may be extremely difficult to most laymen, they may be very simple and clear to any physics professor. Hence, the layman and the physics professor must make a different rate adjustment in reading the same material. Generally, difficult material will entail a slower rate; simpler material will permit a faster rate.
Internal rate adjustment involves selecting differing rates for different parts of a given article. In general, speed should be decreased with the following ideas/thoughts: (1) unfamiliar terminology or unclear words in context; (2) difficult sentence and paragraph structure; (3) unfamiliar or abstract concepts; (4) detailed, technical materials; (5) materials on which you want detailed retention. With these parts that slower reading pace is necessary, one should: try to understand unfamiliar words, phrases, and sentences in context; slow down enough to enable you to untangle difficult syntactic constructions; look for applications or examples of your own as well as studying those of the writer; otherwise, read on and return to it later.
On the other hand, increase in speed is necessary when you meet the following: (1) simple material with few ideas which are new to you; (2) unnecessary examples and illustrations; (3) detailed explanation and idea elaboration which you do not need; (4) broad, generalized ideas and ideas which are restatements of previous ones.
Remember to adjust your reading rate sensitivity from article to article in order to keep your reading attack flexible. It is equally important to adjust your rate within a given article. Practice these techniques until a flexible reading rate becomes second nature to you.
FACTORS THAT REDUCE SPEED-READING RATESome of the factors which reduce reading rate include:
(a) limited perceptual span i.e., word-by-word reading;
(b) slow perceptual reaction time, i.e., slowness of recognition and response to the material;
(c) vocalization, including the need to vocalize in order to achieve comprehension;
(d) faulty eye movements, including inaccuracy in placement of the page, in return sweep, in rhythm and regularity of movement, etc.;
(e) regression, both habitual and as associated with habits of concentration;
(f) faulty habits of attention and concentration, beginning with simple inattention during the reading act and faulty processes of retention;
(g) lack of practice in reading, due simply to the fact that the person has read very little and has limited reading interests so that very little reading is practiced in the daily or weekly schedule;
(h) fear of losing comprehension, causing the person to suppress his rate deliberately in the firm belief that comprehension is improved if he spends more time on the individual words;
(i) habitual slow reading, in which the person cannot read faster because he has always read slowly,
(j) poor evaluation of which aspects are important and which are unimportant; and
(k) the effort to remember everything rather than to remember selectively.
These conditions, as you may notice, may reduce not only the reading rate, but comprehension increase as well. Thus, eliminating them is likely to result in increased comprehension as well. This is an entirely different matter from simply speeding up the rate of reading alone.
In fact, simply speeding the rate especially through forced acceleration may actually worsen the real reading problem. In addition, forced acceleration may even destroy confidence in ability to read. The obvious solution then is to increase rate as a part of a total improvement of the whole reading process. This is a function of special training programs in reading.
BEFORE SPEED READINGHow many times have you promised yourself to read more but just never found enough time? If only you could do it quickly and more efficiently.
Effective and efficient readers learn to use many styles of reading for different purposes which include skimming, scanning, and critical reading. Before reading, you need to identify the purpose why you’ll be doing such activity: Are you looking for background information on a topic you know a little bit about already? Are you looking for specific details and facts that you can marshal in support of an argument? Are you trying to see how an author approaches her topic rhetorically?
Knowing your purpose in reading helps focus your attention on important aspects of the text. Before turning those pages, take a moment first to reflect and clarify what your goal really is.
There are a lot of ways to familiarize yourself with the background of the text, and gain a useful overview of its content and structure before actually absorbing and digesting the text. Seek information about the context of the reading, its purpose, and its general content. Look for an abstract or an author’s or editor’s note that may precede the article itself. Read any background information that is available to you about the author, the occasion of the writing, its intended audience, and more useful information.
After viewing the title and noting general ideas that are accessible to you as a reader, you can continue to browse pages and scan paragraphs in order to get the gist of what material the text covers and how that material is arranged. As soon as you finished looking over the text as a whole, read through the introductory paragraph or section, noticing that some authors will provide an overview of their message as well as an explicit statement of their thesis or main point in the opening portion of the text. Considering the background information, the messages conveyed by the title, note or abstract, and the information from the opening paragraph or section, you should be able to proceed with a good hunch of the article’s direction.
In order to become aware of your reading situation, ask yourself questions like:
- What do I want (or need) to know and learn?
- In which context do I want (or need) this?
- Which texts could suit these needs?
- What made me choose this text?
- How deeply an understanding of the text do I need?
- How much time have I got?
- How do I want to proceed?
CONSIDER YOUR PURPOSE IN READINGTo help you determine a purpose, consider the following ideas:
- Are you looking for brief information, main ideas, complete comprehension, or detailed analysis?
- How will this text help you?
- Is this the best material to meet your goals?
- What does background or summary information provided by the author or editor predict the text will do?
- Does there seem to be a clear introduction and conclusion that can be useful? Where?
- What claims does the author make at the beginnings and endings of sections?
- Are there key words that are repeated or put in bold or italics to help you skim and scan?
- What kinds of development and detail do you notice? Does the text include statistics, tables, and pictures or is it primarily prose? Do names of authors or characters get repeated frequently?
Look for Specific Words
- Scan a section for key words.
- Skim to the words that provide meaning and may be useful for you and your purpose.
BECOME AN IMPATIENT READERSpeed readers are considered impatient readers. They read with a purpose and want to find answers immediately. They can’t wait to find out what the whole text is all about that they usually make predictions and guess the answers.
Some readers say, "If I think ahead while I am reading, my predictions may be wrong."
The truth is, predicting is useful because all your concentration is focused on the reading and you are actually making senses of it. Speed readers predict what the text is likely to tell them next, but they are not upset if a prediction is wrong, they quickly adjust their expectations.
Different Speeds for Different Material
You do not need to read every word to understand a text; however some texts will require careful reading, so you need to know when to adjust your reading speed. Skim a text, and then decide if a slower reading approach is necessary.
Speed Reading Practice Activity
In order to avoid reading every word you must increase the rate your eyes move across the page. As a practice activity, choose an easy material for to read. Sweep your eyes faster across the page than you’ve ever done before. Do not mouth the words; do not even mentally say them. Start with short practice periods, e.g. 3 minutes, record your rate (how many words have you read in 3 minutes?), and then continue with longer period of time or more complicated texts.
The First Steps in Speed Reading
Your starting position and reading gesture is important. You should sit up straight, hold the book down with your left hand, and use your right hand to do the pacing.
Being a good reader before is a plus factor in attempting to speed read. Otherwise, it may be quite difficult and may take some time. Speed reading program will not work if you have problems in comprehension and vocabulary. In fact, it may hurt you to try to rush through stuff that you can't comprehend. Yes, you may be able to read fast, but you just won’t understand what you have read. At least, you should have the basics down already first.
SPEED-READING TIPSRead to the end! Do not get tired or discouraged and just stop reading. Ideas can become clearer the more you read and the further you go with the reading materials. When you finish reading, review to see what you have learned, return to those ideas that are seems unclear, and reread them in order to grasp their ideas. When you begin to read, you should:
- Look for answers to the questions you first raised;
- Answer questions at the beginning or end of chapters or study guides;
- Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases;
- Read only one section at a time, and recite the summary of each section afterwards;
- Reread captions under pictures, graphs, etc.;
- Reduce your speed for difficult passages;
- Stop and reread parts which are not clear; and
- Study graphic aids.
KNOW HOW DEEPLY TO STUDY THE MATERIALWhere you only need the shallowest knowledge of the subject, you can skim the material. This is done by reading only chapter headings, introductions and summaries.
If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, then you can scan the text. Here you read the chapter introductions and summaries in detail, but may speed-read the contents of the chapters – picking out and understanding key words and important concepts. At this level of looking at the document, it is worth paying attention to diagrams and graphs.
Only when you need detailed knowledge of a subject is it worth studying the text. Studying is skimming the material first to get an overview, and afterwards reading it in detail while seeing how the information presented connects to the overall structure of the subject. An effective method of getting the deepest level of understanding on a text is to use a formal method such as SQ3R .
Do you read every article of every magazine, or every chapter of every book? If so, you're probably spending a lot of time reading stuff you don't need. Remember: You don't need to read all of what you DO read. Be choosy. Select the chapters and articles that are important. Ignore the rest.
HOW PEOPLE READOur conscious brain takes in 16 bits of information per second, compared to our non-conscious brain that absorbs 11 million bits per second. Can you imagine the difference? That is the reason why we hate to do stuff consciously – because it does take effort and discipline.
Our non-conscious brain structures process tons of information coming from our sense-organs such as breathing, heartbeat, and blood circulation, not to mention, instincts and emotions – all without our awareness. It’s a work-horse!
The eyes, our primary tool in reading, only take in information when they are stopped. If you want, you can verify this by holding a book up in front of someone and let them read a certain part in it. Watch their eyes as they read though don't tell them what you are observing.
What feels like continuous motion is actually move -> stop -> read, move -> stop -> read, and so on. Speed readers minimize the number of stops by maximizing the number of words taken in at each stop.
SHORT SPEED-READING EXERCISEHere's an exercise that will help you develop effective eye movements. Try looking at the following sentence in three ways:
- First, focus your attention: look only at the first "S" in success.
- Second, adjust your focus / attention: look to be able to see at the entire word, "success".
- Third, adjust your focus so you are seeing three or more words at the same time.
Because you can't say three words at the same time, you can't subvocalize if you are reading three words at a time. Thus, elimination of vocalization from thought is necessary. Although many think that verbalization is essential to linking words with concepts, common experience shows that this is not so.
For example, if someone asks a mechanic how a car works, he surely knows what to answer but will have a problem in how to respond. The subject of his thought is too complex and multi-dimensional to be expressed in linear forms. He may be able to visualize and manipulate concepts -- and find answers -- to mechanical problems in his mind without ever putting those thoughts into words.
The same is possible with abstract ideas (which are also often highly complex and multi-dimensional), though it takes practice because there are no definite "images" to fall back on. In some cases, especially when the thought involved is quite complex, removing the verbal component not only speeds up the thinking process, but can even lead to intuitive leaps that verbal thinking might have prevented.
Consider the way in which you are reading this text. Most people think that they read the way young children do – either letter-by-letter, or at best word-by-word.
The truth is, we do not read letter-by-letter or word-by-word. Notice the way your eye muscles actually move when reading a printed text. Instead, we are fixing our eyes on block of words. Try to move your eyes to the next block of words, and go on. Effectively you are not reading words, but blocks of words at a time. The period of time during which the eye rests on one word is called a fixation.
You may also notice that you don't always proceed from one block of words to the next. Sometimes, you may move back to a preceding block of words if you are unsure about something or if you don’t understand what it meant. These disruptions to the forward flow of reading are called skip-backs.
Only speed readers have been trained to create mini eye-movements, while the rest of us make-do reading with micro eye-movements. The former produces speed reading because they engage our peripheral-vision to chunk words simultaneously, not just one-word at a time; while the latter is automatic, and keep adjusting our eyes to place the words we read on our foveal centralis, the sharpest focusing area of our retina.
REDUCING FIXATION TIMEThe minimum length of time needed for a fixation should only be quarter of a second. By pushing yourself to minimize the time you take until you reach such rate, you will get better at picking up information from very brief and few fixations. This is a matter of practice and confidence.
Most people read in the same way that they watch television – in an inattentive, passive way. What they should know is that reading takes a lot of effort and you must make the effort. A wise teacher once told me that you can learn anything if you do three things. That is,
PAY ATTENTION, PAY ATTENTION, and PAY ATTENTION.
Relationship between Rate of Reading and Comprehension
Good comprehension depends on whether you can extract and retain the important ideas that you’ve read, not on how fast you read them. If you can do this fast, then your reading speed can be increased. If you pair fast-reading with worrying about comprehension, your reading speed will drop because the mind is occupied with your fears and you are not paying attention to the ideas that you are reading.
But, if you concentrate on the purpose of reading (locating main ideas and finding answers to your questions), your speed and comprehension should increase. Your concern should be not with how fast you can get through a chapter alone, but with how quickly you can comprehend the facts and ideas that you need.
Reading ComprehensionComprehension during speed reading is easier than during standard reading. This is because the mind is busy looking for meaning, not rereading words and sentences. The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time rereading words than actually reading them. Rereading interrupts the flow of comprehension and slows down the process, that’s why the habit of it should be eliminated.
How to comprehend easily? Scan the chapter first. Identify the sections to which the author devotes the most amount of space – what where the text focuses. If there are lots of diagrams for a particular topic, then that must also be an important concept. If you're really under time pressure, you can skip the sections to which the least amount of space is devoted.
Take note on headings and read the first sentence of every paragraph more carefully than the rest of the paragraph. The main idea is usually situated there. Read the important parts and the main ideas. Focus on nouns and main propositions in each sentence. Look for the noun-verb combinations, and focus the mind on these. Then, close the book and ask yourself what you now know about the subject that you didn't know before you started.
Reducing Skip Backs While ReadingImportant: Don't reread the same phrases from the text!
Poor readers read and reread the same phrase over and over again. This habit of making "regressions" doubles or worse triples reading time and often does not even result in better comprehension. A single careful, attentive speed reading may not be always enough for completely comprehending the matter you are reading, but is often more effective than constant regressions in the middle rate of a reading. It is best to work on paying closer attention and doing a preview first before the careful reading.
To help reduce the number of times that the eyes goes back to a previous word or sentence, run a pointer along the line as you read. This could be a finger, a pen or any pointed material. Your eyes will follow the tip of your pointer, smoothing the flow of speed reading. The speed at which you read using this method will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer; so if
you want to speed up your reading, you also have to increase your pointing rate.
SKIMMINGSkimming refers to reading quickly to gain a general impression as to whether the text is of use to you. You are not necessarily searching for a specific item because it only provides an 'overview' of the text.
Skimming is somewhat like reading the morning newspaper. You don’t actually start at the top left corner and read every article on every page. You read the headlines, reject many of the articles that you don’t find relevant, and read only those that interests you, sometimes in a hit and miss fashion – reading the headline, the first paragraph, skipping down to check out the names of the people.
Why Should I Skim?
Contents of most reading materials are not all important and relevant. Some of them are simple supporting details in which absence of them still makes the text complete. In other words, they are only trash. You wouldn’t waste your time reading the trash at all, would you?
The important items may be skimmed and ear-marked for later reading. The critical may be skimmed to confirm that they are really critical. What is left in the “really critical” stack will demand intensity. Even then, you may want to skim each one before you read in detail.
Skimming on a regular basis develops your ability to learn with this strategy. It also improves other reading rates such as for studying and for average reading (that will be discussed later on this chapter). It builds your knowledge and vocabulary base so you have the background to rapidly absorb these ideas as they appear in other context.
How to Skim Read
- Read the title. This focuses your attention on the topic.
- Read the introduction. This may be the first paragraph or two. It usually describes, in general, the entire selection will be about.
- Read the first sentence in each paragraph. Often as many as 80% of the paragraphs start with a summary or topic sentence. The rest of the sentences in the paragraph simply elaborate. You may skip the elaboration unless it is obviously necessary such as the definition of a very important term. When you skim, you really are only looking for general ideas.
- Read the conclusion. This may be the last paragraph or two. It usually summarizes the article, specifies an opinion, or makes some recommendations based on the general content.
- Test your comprehension. Look away from the article and tell yourself in a sentence or two what the entire article was about.
SCANNINGWhen you’re looking for, say for instance, a car service phone number in the telephone directory, you don't read every listing, do you? Instead, you skip over a lot of unrelated information and scan for a visual image of the name of the company on the relevant page.
It is like looking for a friend at the basketball game. You do not look at each individual face across every row of seats. Because you have a visual image of your friend’s face, you scan the audience until you see him. Scanning printed words is similar to this.
Why Should I Scan?
You scan to locate a single fact or a specific bit of information without reading everything in the whole text material or even in just a chapter. Perhaps you have a list of terms that you know are going to be on the next biology test. You have already encountered them during the lecture in class so while reviewing, you just look up each word in the index, go to the given page number, and scan for just that word. When you find them, you read the sentence in which they appear. If it is not yet clear to you, then you may want to read the entire paragraph.
How to Scan
- Flip through the pages to see how the information is organized. It may be alphabetical, chronological, topical categories from most important to least important, or the standard essay format of introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Turn to the section most likely to contain the specified details.
- Keep a visual image of the key word in mind.
- Run your eyes over the material in a search for that keyword visual image. Don't be tempted to stop and browse. You can do that some other time.
LIGHT READINGReading for leisure tends to be 'light'. Thus, the main purpose of the reader in performing this type of reading is when he/she has ample time in such activity and no other obligations whatsoever. Light reading is done according to the following:
- Read at a pace which feels comfortable.
- Read with understanding.
- Skim the boring, irrelevant passages.
An average light reading speed is 100-200 words per minute. This form of reading does not generally require detailed concentration.
So where does light reading fit in with speed reading? Well, how about being able to zip through magazines, novels, and other less demanding text at a much faster pace. You'll be able to not only read more of the material you enjoy in a shorter time, but you'll retain more of what you read.
Light reading can include breezing through the classics and other popular works. Getting through these materials at a faster pace will help give you a more well-rounded exposure to the world at large.
Broadening your base of knowledge through reading classic works will boost your self confidence and self esteem. Why not read through these valuable materials at record speed?
WORD-BY-WORD READINGThis type of reading is time consuming and demands a high level of concentration. According to what it’s called, such reading type is done by reading a word after every word. Some material is not readily understood and so they require a slow and careful analytical read.
People use this type of reading for unfamiliar words and concepts, scientific formulae, technical materials, and the like. It can take up to an hour just to read a few paragraphs or chapter of the text.
This is where learning the skill of speed reading can add tremendous value to your life. With the proper techniques, you will be able to work through this type of material at a much faster pace than you are accustomed to.
In fact, the quality of your life may very well depend upon acquiring the skill necessary to absorb more technical and difficult material. Failure to process and absorb difficult information will put you at chronic disadvantage in your financial and social life.
You will not blaze through technical material in a few minutes of reading, regardless of the speed reading technique applied. But you can get through it faster and with a greater level of comprehension by applying the proper methods.
Is the effort required to learn the proper speed reading skill worthwhile? What if you could increase your absorption of knowledge by a factor well above where you are now. Do you think this would improve the future quality of your life?
READING TO STUDYThe main method used in reading to study is called SQ3R. Its aim is to understand the material in some depth. The method involves five simple steps, namely Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review, in which the name came from.
- Survey: skim through to gain an overview and not key points.
- Question: devise questions you hope the text will answer.
- Read: slowly and carefully.
- Recall: from memory, write down the main points made by the chapter.
- Review: revisit and answer the questions you first raised. Compare these to your recall and establish how well the text has answered them. Fill in any gaps by further reading
This is a tried and true way to learn. But, why not speed up the process. This is where learning valuable speed reading techniques can help you save time and absorb more material.
RADICALLY INCREASING READING SPEEDSpeed reading helps you to read and understand texts more quickly. It is an essential skill in any environment where you have to learn bulky pieces of information fast, as is situations like fast-moving educational and professional environments.
You are now getting into the heart of the methods and techniques that will raise your reading speed and comprehension levels. Don't hesitate to return to this material as often as necessary.
Here are some of the relevent topics:
The Key Speed Reading Insight
Speed Reading Technical Issues
Self-Pacing Techniques in Speed Reading
More Speed Reading Tips
What Causes Slow-Reading?
Tips for Increasing Reading Rate
In the world we live in, the quality and the future of your life are directly impacted by what you know. Only a few gifted individuals are lucky enough to find financial security through their physical skills. The rest of us are dependent on what we know to provide what we have in life.
The ability to absorb and retain information has never been as important in civilized societies as it is today. The pace of learning just to keep up is accelerating, much less getting ahead. Speed reading is a skill you cannot afford to be without.
Just because this information is being provided at no charge to you is no reason to discount its usefulness. Please, make good use of it. Improve not only your life, but the world around you with your new found knowledge.
THE KEY SPEED-READING INSIGHTThe most important thing you need to know about speed reading is to identify what information you need from a document before you start reading. For example, if you only want an outline of the different computer programming languages, then you can skim the document very quickly and extract only the essential facts.
On the other hand, if you need to understand the real detail of the document – how program X differs from program Y and Z – then you need to read it slowly enough to fully understand it.
You will get the greatest time saving from speed reading by learning to adjust your reading type depending on your purpose and need. Essentially, you will be establishing a goal. How you read is going to vary depending on your need.
This is simply a form of mental organization to help prevent floundering. If you have a clear sense of direction, then part of the battle is already won. Additionally, having a better idea of what you are needing from the reading material will help develop a higher level of interest.
Logically, with a higher level of interest in what you are reading, you will absorb more of what you read. That's the whole purpose in the first place, isn't it? It's just that we want to do it better and faster.
SPEED READING TECHNICAL ISSUESEven when you know how to ignore irrelevant details, there are other technical improvements you can make to your reading style which will increase your reading speed.
As what we had mentioned earlier, most people tend to read the way young children do – either letter-by-letter or word-by-word. But the truth is, reading is about fixing the eyes on one block of words, then moving them again to the next block, and so on. Thus, you are reading blocks of words at a time, and not individual words one-by-one.
A skilled reader is able to read the most number of words in each block. He/She will dwell on each block for an instant, and will immediately then move on. Through this technique, it reduces the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do. It also increases the volume of information that can be read in a period of time.
A poor reader, on the other hand, spends a lot of time reading small blocks of words. He/She will skip back often, resulting to decrease in reading speed. Plus, this irregular eye movement will make reading tiring. That is why poor readers tend to dislike reading, and may find it harder to concentrate and understand any reading material.
Speed reading aims to improve reading skills by:
- Increasing the number of words in each block:
Consciousness is a must in trying to expand the number of words that you read at a time. Practice will help you to read faster. You may also find that you can increase the number of words read by holding the text a little further from your eyes. The more words you can read in each block, the faster you will read!
- Reducing fixation time:
The minimum length of time needed to read each block is probably ¼ of a second. By pushing yourself to reduce the time you take, you will get better at picking up information quickly.
- Reducing skip backs:
To reduce the number of times your eyes goes back to a previous text, run a pointer along the line as you read. Your eyes should follow the tip of your pointer to smoothen the flow of your reading.
SELF-PACING TECHNIQUESSpeed reading is not a big incomprehensible subject. Professional speed reading classes mainly teach a handful of quick methods that help a person focus his or her attention better. The eye is drawn to movement. Speed reading methods put that motion on the material being read.
Your starting position is essential. You should sit up straight, grip the book down with your left hand, and use your right hand to do the pacing.
You should already be an able reader before you try to speed read. Speed reading will not help you if you have problems in understanding the meaning of the words. In fact, it may be fruitless for you to try to rush through things that you can't comprehend. You should have the basics down already first.
Before you start speed reading, you should do a survey of the data first and foremost to get a general idea of what you will be undertaking and of the type of writing. The self-pacing methods below used in speed reading can help in increasing one’s focus and understanding. They can also help in breaking one’s habit of reading and reading again.
The Hand Speed Reading Technique
The first technique is to simply place your right hand on the page and slowly move it straight down the page, drawing your eyes down as you read. Keep an equal, gradual motion, as if your right hand has its own free will. Your eyes may not be exactly where your hand is, but this simple movement will allow you to go faster. Don't start, read a little, stop, read a little, start, read a little. Keep the movement slow and easy. Only do it once per page. If you are "left-handed" use your left hand as the dominant pacing hand.
The Finger Speed Reading Technique
Lift your fingers and make two even bounces on each line. Each time you bounce, you are ought to be making a fixation of about sets of 3-4 words. This should be done with a balance arm muscle and not just wiggling the wrist.
The Card Speed Reading Technique
The next method is to utilize a card or a folded-up piece of paper on top of the line of print to block the words after you read them. Move it down the page slowly and evenly and try to read the lines before you cover the words up. This helps break you of the habit of reading and reading a line of text over and over again. It helps you pay more attention the first time. Be sure to push the card down quicker than you think you can go. Slide the card down once per page.
The Sweep Speed Reading Technique
Another tactic is to use your hand to help draw your eyes across the page. Slightly cup your right hand. Keep your fingers together. With a very loose and fluid motion, sweep your fingers from left to right, underlining the line with the tip of your tallest finger from about an inch in and an inch out on each line. Use your whole arm to move, balancing on your arm muscle. Imagine that you are dusting off dirt from the page.
MORE SPEED-READING TIPS
- Once you start reading, don't stop! Read the text straight through. If you have any question after you have completed reading the material, go back and reread the relevant sections.
- Reread the marked sections of the text (the items you indicated that you didn’t quite understand).
- Write a small summary at the beginning of the chapter – consisting about 3-4 sentences. If you ever need to return to the text, the information is much more easily found with summary markings.
- Read once. You can't read everything all at once (and wouldn't want to). If it's important, read it now. If it's not, let it wait.
- Read the title and the first paragraph more carefully than the other parts of the section.
- If there is a summary at the end of a chapter, read it.
- Get a grasp of how the material is organized.
- If you need more background, seek another source.
- A paper and a pen at hand while reading is helpful. Make sure to have both beside you before beginning to read.
- Use the cursor on computer as a pointer when you read text on the screen. The cursor will then act as a finger, and your eyes will most likely follow for moving object.
- Use a guide (pencil, finger, ruler, etc.) to stop regression.
- Train yourself to bypass your automatic response to mentally speak each word. Instead, read words and phrases at a time, using only the peripheral vision.
- When you are reading it is often useful to highlight, underline and annotate the text as you go on. This emphasizes information in the mind, and helps you to recall important details after reading the material.
- Underline relevant information in a section as if you were preparing brief notes from which you could study.
- Underline all definitions of terminology.
- Mark or label examples that represent main ideas.
- Circle and box special vocabulary words and transitional words and phrases.
- Number important or sequential ideas.
- Jot down paraphrases, questions, and summaries in available spaces within the text.
WHAT CAUSES SLOW READINGIf you find that your rate of reading speed has been decreasing, come back and review the causes listed below. Most of the causes of slow reading can be eliminated simply through recognition of the problem.
- Word-by-word reading.
- Expanded time of reading each block and increased number of times the eyes goes back to a previous word or sentence.
- Slowness of recognition and response to the material; slow perceptual reaction time.
- Vocalization and the need to vocalize in order to achieve comprehension.
- Faulty eye movements and regression.
- Slow reading habit due to past reading experiences.
- Inattentiveness and absent-mindedness during reading.
- Lack of practice in reading, due simply to the fact that the person has read very little and has limited reading interests so that very little reading is practiced in the daily or weekly schedule.
- Fear of losing comprehension.
- Poor recognition of which aspects are important and which are unimportant.
- The effort to remember everything rather than to remember selectively.
Since these conditions act also to reduce comprehension, increasing the reading rate through eliminating them is likely to result in increased comprehension as well. This is an entirely different matter from simply speeding up the rate of reading without considering if the reader “really” understands what he is reading.
MORE TIPS FOR IMPROVING READING RATEIncreasing your speed reading rate is a vitally important goal. Here are more suggestions you can implement immediately.
- Work on vocabulary improvement. Familiarize yourself with new words so you don't get stuck on them when you read them again.
- If you find yourself moving your lips when reading, force yourself to read faster by reading with the mind instead of with the lips.
- Read more! 15 minutes a day of reading an average size novel equals 18 books a year at an average reading speed. Can you imagine how helpful it can be?
- Determine your purpose before reading. If you only need main ideas, then allow yourself to skim the material. Don't read every word.
- Spend a few minutes a day reading at a faster than comfortable rate (about 2 to 3 times faster than your normal speed). Use your hand or a card to guide your eyes down the page.
- If you have poor concentration when reading, practice reading for only 5-10 minutes at a time and gradually increase this time.
It is vitally important that you consistently apply the techniques provided in this course. No matter what you are reading, make a conscious effort to use what you have learned in this speed reading program.
The idea here is through repetition to ingrain these techniques so throroughly that they become habitual. Speed reading is a skill that you want to come as naturally as breathing. This can and will come through persistent repetition on your part.
Reading Considerations and Limitations
Slow, word-by-word, critical reading is an essential part of some reading tasks. However, when time and purpose is being considered, the reader must learn to adjust his reading speed and effectiveness. Thus, speed reading is not applicable to all types of reading situations. Learning the skill will, however, enable the reader to add an additional dimension to the scope of his/her current reading skills.
Causes of Slow Reading Speeds
* Individual variables --intelligence, motivation, physiological and psychological traits.
- Deficiencies in vocabulary and comprehension levels required by the particular reading material. A student who has difficulty understanding what he/she reads will not be helped by learning to misunderstand faster. A student who is hampered by an inadequate vocabulary will not be helped by learning to skip any faster through unknown or vaguely defined words.
- Most frequent causes of unnecessarily slow speeds when the causes listed above are at adequate levels:
- Inflexibility--the tendency to read everything the same way regardless of what it is, why it is being read, etc.
- Passivity--the failure to become involved with the material being read, the failure to interact with the author and to anticipate his next thought, his conclusions, etc.
- Unnecessary and habitual regression or re-reading -- because of lack of concentration.
- Habitually slow "reaction time" to reading material -- a general "rut" which makes attempts at faster reading extremely uncomfortable at first.
- WHERE TO BEGIN....with your next reading assignment.
- Be FLEXIBLE. Difficulty and purpose determine how to read a selection. College students (especially) must realize that there are reading speeds, not just one reading speed. Speeds must vary with the nature of the reading task and the reader's familiarity with the materials.
- Determine PURPOSE for reading this particular selection... What type of information do you have to learn from it?... How long do you have to retain the information?... How does this selection fit into the whole course?... Why has this reading been assigned?... To what use will the information be put?
- PREVIEW the selection to determine its difficulty... How familiar are you with this field of study? ... How many unknown and essential words are in it? ... Read the introduction, subheads, italicized sentences, marginal notes, and conclusion. Try to grasp the general thought structure by integrating these isolated clues.
- Make use of the head-start you got during your preview.
- Read for ideas and concepts, not for isolated words. Pace yourself fast enough that you have to read concepts ... not words.
- Concentrate--if you push your rate up to capacity, you won't have time to think about other things. Set reasonable but stiff time goals and race the clock.
- Think, interpret, analyze the FIRST time you read -- avoid unnecessary re-reading.
- Note key words (subjects, verbs, objects)--TELEGRAPH the message to yourself.
- Pace yourself--as fast as your purpose will permit. Pacing will discourage the tendency toward habitual and unnecessary re-reading and helps to keep your attention focused on the page. Try one of the SELF-PACING METHODS listed below ... perhaps uncomfortable and unnatural at first, but most effective after the "newness" wears off.
- Use an index card, a ruler, or any other straight-edge and move it rapidly down the page as you read. Move it lightly, fluidly, with one hand only. Move it either ahead of you down the page to act as a pace-setter OR let it fall along behind you, covering up what you have read and therefore forcing your initial concentration.
- Move the edge of your hand or the spread fingers of your hand down the page, reading the lines as they pop up from underneath your hand.
- Move your finger or pencil point lightly down the margin beside the lines you are reading.
- STRETCH when your momentum seems to be slowing down. Stop, close your eyes and squeeze them together tightly for a second, then open them wide. Play around for a few minutes by pacing yourself through "simulated" reading of a book held upside down, page by page, at extremely rapid speeds JUST TO GET THE FEEL OF rapid, rhythmic movement down the page again. With new momentum established, turn the book right-side up and continue reading at your fastest possible speed.
- TEST yourself. Stop at the end of each "section" of material and recall periodically what you have just read. Especially in material which you must remember for a period of time, practice reading quickly and efficiently with the intent to recall the important information at the end of each chapter or section or paragraph--depending upon the difficulty of the material. Make notes or underline if appropriate.
MORE READING METHODS
News is redundant – previewed yesterday, detailed today, and still will be summed up tomorrow. Thus, news readers tend to not read news articles are extensively as other technical materials. Using this style of reading, called the Reading News Method, to other materials is useful. It disregards redundant information to save time.
You use the Reading News Method when you are read from a report, newspaper, magazine or newsletter. You skip what you already know and read only the new information you need.
Speed Reading Newspapers Method
In reading newspaper articles, look through the headlines and first paragraphs only. Reporters present 80% of the key information of the news in the opening paragraph. The subsequent supporting text should be read only as needed. Follow these strategies:
- Ask yourself what other specific details you want.
- Skim the article for the desired details. Don't read all the words unless you have enough time.
- When finished with an article, go on to the next. This whole process should not take more than 10-15 minutes.
Close Reading Method
Close reading is the essence of the academic learning. It aims to acquire knowledge from materials with full retention of details. It divides into a number of separate steps, each vital, but ends as a whole.
Before reading a difficult piece of writing, take a few moments to close your eyes, relax, and take 2-3 deep breaths.
This way, you can get all the comfort you will need in reading. Believe that you can read with full concentration, recognize key information, and achieve high comprehension quickly to accomplish the needs. Believe you can, and you will.
This may simply sound like "positive mental attitude." But realization of everything begins with affirmation, doesn’t it?
Exploratory Reading Method
Exploratory reading is the half-way point between skimming and close reading. It is similar to pleasure reading. You want to acquaint yourself with the subject, but you do not need complete understanding and retention. Perhaps you are reading supplementary material which you will not be held accountable for, or perhaps you only need to gain general knowledge from a text which will be available if you need to look up specific references.
Reading to Learn Method
Intensive reading or reading to learn is the style we employ when we want to gain a detailed understanding of the information contained in any reading materials, particularly educational or technical ones.
Following are some strategies on reading different academic materials that belong to this category:
Reading Computer Books
- Spend some time reading the chapter headings and sub-headings from the index page.
- Get familiar with the framework of the book – how the book is organized and broken down into its sub-components.
- Skim the book: Read a sentence here, a sentence there; look at a diagram here, a diagram there.
- Look for new terminology, diagrams, and graphs that you haven't come across before.
- After skimming the book, read the entire book through superficially. During this time, only concentrate on the sections of the book that you already know or understand, and completely skip over entries in the book that you don't.
- Lastly, read the book again and this time, study the material. This will essentially be the third time that you've looked at the book, and a lot of the content, the structure and the feel of the book will be familiar to you. You should be able to tackle the entire book much easier.
Reading Textbooks and Research Reports
- Determine a purpose. What is it that you want to get from the printed page? Terms and definitions? Problem and solution? Research method?
- Preview the printed pages to see how the ideas are organized. These include the title, the introduction, and the headings. Also, read the conclusion if there is one.
- Read rapidly, only slowing down when you approach something relevant to the purpose you set.
- Mark the lines or words that you want to remember. When you reach the end of the last page, quickly look back at the marked text for a rapid review. This should answer the question or purpose that you set before you started reading.
Reading a Novel
- Read any information on the book cover or in the foreword that gives you ideas about the content of the story or about the author's reasons for writing the book.
- Read the first chapter slowly and carefully. It should introduce the main character and the problem or conflict that he/she faces. The first chapter also develops some character traits and introduces other characters who influence attempts to resolve issues.
- Plan how much of the book you will read at one sitting. If you become seriously restless after thirty minutes, plan to read for thirty minutes at a time. A more mature plan is to read one chapter at a time.
- Determine what time of day you will always read making it a regular habit.
- If reading a novel is an assignment for a book report, write a summary paragraph about the events in every chapter you have finished reading. Add a comment about anything else you think is significant. After you finish the last chapter, you should have a summary of the entire book composed of those chapter summaries that you wrote. Organizing it will then give you a good and effective book report.
- You can also use a pacer such as the finger or a pen point to increase reading speed and reduce regressing back although it is not really necessary. Remember, you are reading fiction and do not need the detailed precision that you do while reading academic subjects.
Reading Math Books
- First and foremost, do homework exercises even if most professors do not require you to submit them. Home works are for your benefit, not the professor's. The exercises will train your mind and sharpen your intuition.
- Math books are meant to be read slowly. No one speed read it and expect to get any benefit out of it at all.
- Go over each difficult paragraph several times. If you are still uncomfortable with it, read ahead a page or so, then come back to the difficult passage.
- Math books are meant to be read with paper and pencil in hand. Use the paper and pencil to work through any steps that the book skips over.
- Try to see more than just procedures. Learn the concepts, and the procedures will seem obvious.
During activation, we stimulate the brain probing the mind with questions and exploring parts of the text to which we feel most attracted. We then concentrate on the most important parts of the text by scanning quickly down the center of each page or column of type. When we feel it is appropriate, we dip into the text for more focused reading to comprehend the details. When we activate, we involve our whole brain, connect the text with our conscious awareness, and achieve our goals for reading.