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Learn to Speed Read the Right Way

Anuja Marathe Kanhere
Speed reading is an art which can be mastered only by repeated practice and over a long period of time. Here are some helpful hints to facilitate faster reading.
There is direct relation between age and expectations. As adults, we see a growing number of errands and responsibilities demanding bits of our time and attention. If you are passionate about reading or plan to dedicate some time to studying, you will find yourself desperately squeezing out some time from your busy schedule for reading. Alas, there are only 24 hours in each day and the clock can never be turned back! My article has a superb solution to get over this problem. The solution is none other than learning to read faster.

Shrug off Poor Reading Habits

Subconscious Vocalization

People tend to have an incorrigible habit of subconsciously saying out the word in their minds. The downside of this habit is that you end up reading at the speed with which you usually speak. Your mind starts associating reading and comprehension of the text only after its mental pronunciation. Try to break this habit, by just reading the text trying hard not to speak in your mind. I know its hard to break this habit but it is not impossible. Your reading speed will shoot up straight to 600 words a minute if you overcome this habit.

Reading Every Word

Since early childhood, we are taught to read by stressing on each word and phrase. This makes your mind read a particular word, grasp its meaning and then move forward to understanding the subsequent words. From this, we can deduce that, there is a substantial back and forth movement between reading and understanding. However, this technique need not be used when you are older and better with grasping power. You can easily train your mind to read a blocks of multiple words at a time. This helps you read quickly.

Unnecessary Regression

There is a general tendency in many people to go back to a particular paragraph or page and reread it. Either they are not sure what they have read or they just want to reconfirm certain details in the paragraph or on the page. This problem can be overcome by using a pointer to help you look at the text so that you read at the desired speed without any temptation to move back. For a pointer, you can either use your finger or the tip of your pen or pencil.

Uncontrolled Eye Motion

It is a common fact that most of the readers avoid usage of their peripheral vision to read words at the end of the line. An average reader tends to focus on just about five words at a time. All you need to do is relax your face and soften your gaze. Read the text that is directly visible and use your peripheral vision to go through the end part of the line. This helps you read and move over to subsequent lines faster.

Lack of Concentration

People have a habit to multitask reading with other activities like listening to music or watching television. This completely negates the basic principle to be followed for successfully grasping a text. I suggest all my readers to read in an environment without any distractions. Relax your mind before you read so that you can forget any stray thoughts about petty problems or household issues. Stop daydreaming and increase your interest to run through the text. An easy way is to set a timer and run against the time to finish reading your text. When you do so, it might feel as if you are competing with yourself.

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Mastering Speed Reading Skills

Speed Tracker

A common timer or alarm to demarcate the timing is an essential tool to track your own reading speed. To start with, find your original reading speed. Here you can set the timer for say 5 minutes and start reading. Find out how many words you had read when the timer started ringing. Make a careful noting of time and words on a piece of paper or chart. Now do this for subsequent reading sessions too. Ideally, the reading time should remain consistent. Only then you can understand if your speed has increased or not.

Repeated Practice

The basic requisite to master this skill is to practice repeatedly. There is other option to practicing. The more you do it, the easier it will seem to gain speed in your reading. It is suggested that you try to read more amount of words in the same time frame with each practice session. Some of the best speeding scores are approximately 1000 to 2000 words per minute. So aim at a higher score. Remember, it is not expected of you to comprehend every word when you practice speed reading. But as you try harder, even comprehending will get easier.

Choose Right Text

For beginners, it is suggested that they should avoid using any complicated and highly technical texts as they may drift away your concentration. Choose light reading materials like short stories, novels or newspaper articles. If not any of this, then use the textbooks of your favorite subjects to make reading interesting. With a gradual increase in your pace, you may start reading more technical materials too.

Use Aids to Text Reading

It is essential to find out the structure style maintained by the book. The author may have given a brief introduction for the book on the back cover. He may have used a short paragraph to give the readers insight about the overall text or at times, he may have given a tagged pictorial depiction of the matter that he has written. Study all these carefully. You may at times grasp the whole meaning by just glancing at some such aids incorporated in textual matter.


Here is one habit that is likely to be useful in this case. All you need to do is keep a pen and paper next to you before you start. Read as much as you can and try to summarize the matter in your words. The ideal length of summary may be from two to three lines. This will help you move quickly to the next set of texts in the book or the report. However, I warn you that this technique cannot be used at each and every instance. This method is generally useful for students who require memorizing extensive texts.
Remember, speed reading is not a magic and it takes a lot of self control to have a mastery in it. But once you adapt yourself to the whole idea, the skill stays with you all your life. And who knows, you might be able to impress your friends with your reading speed.