Have you been in a situation where you have too much reading material, but not enough time, and you wish you could just speed read a text?
As a student, you’ve most likely encountered a situation where either for an assignment or exam, you’ve had many books to read or many chapters of books to read. During these circumstances, it’s advisable to “work smarter, not harder.” The speed reading tips in this blog will allow you to do just that.
Speed reading is the process of quickly absorbing phrases or sentences on a page in a collective manner, instead of processing individual words.
If you’re wondering how to read textbooks faster, then these speed reading tips are just for you.
Scan or Preview a Text Before Actually Reading
Scan your required reading material from beginning to the end, while focusing on headings, subheadings, anything in bold, etc., and how the author structured the text.
Previewing or scanning the text before you actually read it gives you an overview of what you’re about to read, and a sense of control as you track your reading progress.
So, scan through the page and look for key sentences, words, or values.
Be Mindful and Intentional
Being mindful when reading and reading with intention is key for an effective reading process and to know how to read faster. Try to focus and concentrate as much as you can on the text by minimizing distractions and interruptions. If you catch yourself drifting away and fantasizing about your weekend, gently bring yourself back to the text.
Furthermore, avoid passive reading (without focus) as it is inefficient and will only lead you to re-read the text to understand it, thus wasting time. This leads to the next speed reading tip, which is to focus.
An essential element of improving reading speed is to avoid distractions and focus.
Go somewhere where there are fewest interruptions and distractions to allow you to create an environment that will allow you to focus on your reading.
Don’t Read Every Single Section
Another technique that allows for speed reading is to skip through the titles that are irrelevant.
According to Dartmouth College’s Academic Skills Center, it’s an obsolete myth that students must read every section of a textbook or article.
Unless you’re reading something essential, skip the parts that are irrelevant to your purpose. Reading selectively will allow you to process the main points of a text and filter out unnecessary information.
A game-changing tip on how to read faster is not to vocalize your reading, as reading out loud will slow your reading process down.
Brocas’ Area is the part of the brain responsible for speech and Wernicke’s Area is the part of the brain associated with comprehension. By not subvocalizing or reading out loud, you can skip the extra step of having to read and understand speech in Wernicke’s Area and then vocalize it in Broca’s Area.
When children read passages aloud in school, it’s for a certain purpose, but it’s not recommended for speed reading.
When we read paragraphs out loud, our brain has to work a bit harder than when we read silently.
Skim through lines, and don’t vocalize or enunciate them, as people understand words faster than they can say them.
Two Main Fast Reading Techniques
Trackers and Pacers: The Pointer and Tracker-and-Pacer Technique
Keep your eyes above the tip of the pen or any tracker you use. Actually underlining the words is optional.
Use a Visual Pacer
When you read, use a visual pacer or marker- like a cursor, your finger, a pencil, highlighter, or pen. Don’t go down the page in an S or Z shape because you’ll miss many words.
Children subconsciously use their finger to keep track of what they’re reading until they’re taught not to do so.
Your eyes are attracted to motion since due to our survival instinct, our eyes are naturally attracted to motion.
Expand Your Peripheral Vision
An essential fast reading technique that will boost your reading speed is to expand your perceptual scope or peripheral vision.
Expand your peripheral vision to take in more words in one glance.
Upon reaching the end of a sentence, allow your peripheral vision to take your eye to the last of words. This will help stop the pauses in your reading (often at full stops), allowing you to jump to following lines faster.
Another way to read faster is to train your peripheral vision to log in more, which can increase reading speed over 300%.
When to Speed Read
Knowing when to speed read is as important as knowing how to read faster. Speed reading is obviously not the way to go if you're studying for an exam and need to understand the material you’re reading.
When you need to comprehend only the main points or conclusion being drawn, speed reading can work.
Effective speed reading is striking the right balance between pace and comprehension. Studies have stated that the faster you read, the less information you absorb, especially when it comes to recalling details.
A study has stated that skimming through a text can not only improve your average reading speed but also improve your understanding the second time you read it.
By implementing these fast reading techniques and speed reading tips, you will learn how to speed read and become an accelareader in no time! And don’t forget, practice makes perfec
Meta: Speed reading is a superpower everybody wants to have. These fast-reading techniques and tips will allow you to read your books or textbooks much faster.
Kwik Brain, 007, (2017, March 17). How to Read Faster. Retrieved from https://www.jimkwik.com/podcast/kwik-brain-007-how-to-read-faster
Ferriss. T. (2009, July 30). The Tim Ferriss Show. Speed Reading and Accelerated Training. Retrieved from https://tim.blog/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/
Lee, B. How to Retain Faster and Retain More. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/615485/how-to-read-10x-faster-and-retain-more
Raga, S. (2017, July 5). How to Read Faster (and Still Understand What You Read). Retrieved from https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/83881/how-to-read-faster