How to Learn Speed Reading (For Beginners)
Speed reading is the ability to read and digest information fast. Increase your reading speed without missing any relevant details. You can do so by correcting bad reading habits, learning different techniques, and practicing speed reading today.
Learning how to read is essential. Without a doubt, it is a vital process in acquiring new knowledge. And for most people, it’s also a great way to relax and pass the time.
But sometimes, reading can be taxing for busy students and professionals who’d like to do a lot in a short while.
Some topics can also become overwhelming and tiresome to learn about.
For this reason, some of us resort to faster reading with less understanding.
But here’s a fun fact. With the right strategies, you can learn to read faster. You can read any reading material and absorb all its key points at a faster pace.
So if you want to improve your reading speed, this article is for you. Because in this post, we will discuss everything there is to know about speed reading.
And then, we will explore all the speed reading tips you need to apply to develop this valuable skill today.
What is speed reading?
Speed reading is a skill that involves covering massive groups of words in a shorter period. It is the application of different tools and techniques to increase reading speeds.
Hence, you can think of speed reading as the process of controlling your eye movements to
- Read more than one word in a sentence at a time
- Go through and understand several words on a page in one go
- Grasp the main ideas of a text without needing to reread the entire content
As such when one aims to develop this skill, the end goal is to:
- Increase the number of words they can read in a minute, and
- By extension, the number of keywords they can recall to grasp the essence of the material.
How speed reading differs from the usual reading process?
Unlike regular, passive reading, speed reading is more than the meeting of the eyes and the words. It’s a process that centers on focus and pace, which means it goes beyond absorbing one word after the other. Instead, it recognizes, processes, and understands words faster.
To be specific, here are three of the most notable differences between these terms:
Speed reading relies on glances
In the normal reading process, the person moves their eyes from left to right. But in speed reading, speed readers cover words in a glance. And doing that requires expanding their vision to take in more than one line.
When people read, they tend to look at words one by one.
They independently process them to form and understand the whole meaning of a sentence.
But speed reading is different as it does take things a little further.
Instead of looking at separate words, those who know how to speed read can scan an entire page and take in more than three words simultaneously.
They widen their sight so they can end up reading faster. And they understand the meaning of what they see immediately, provided they don’t encounter unfamiliar words along the way.
They also take in one to two lines at the same time, which takes immense focus to do.
Now, how are they able to do this?
The answer is they glance and move their sight over the text with speed, absorbing more than three words in one go. These rapid glances serve as the foundation for speed reading.
Speed reading discourages readers from reading words out loud
Regular reading involves reading aloud. As you read and talk at once, your brain focuses more on how you read and pronounce individual words. For this reason, your average reading speed lessens. And your ability to understand terms takes time.
During our toddler years, the grown-ups taught us to read groups of words by sounding them out loud.
In effect, we learned how to read a single word by uttering how each letter sounds and combining them as one. This method is a process known as sub-vocalization.
And for so long, we’ve adapted this way of reading that change has become difficult.
At some point, it’s understandable because regular reading happens this way.
But the problem is, for most people, this method of reading still stands even in the adult years of their lives.
And in effect, they take a significant amount of time when reading texts or even entire books.
So if you read that way, then there’s a big chance that you’re also a very slow reader.
That’s the problem with this reading approach. It slows down your reading speed because you speak and process words at the same time.
Hence, your comprehension takes longer. And then you’d find the need to go through the entire material again.
So, in the end, even if you only mumble the words inside your mind, the fact remains. You’d still take a few extra seconds to read, speak, process, and understand everything.
Speed reading requires tremendous concentration
Even for a while, the standard reading process demands focus. But, since speed reading involves multitasking, it needs your full and constant attention.
For a compelling speed reading, the reader must be able to:
- See and read the words on the page
- Pay attention to the author’s main points
- Notice how they organize the information, so the highlights and main points of the text are clear, and
- Read with a broader perspective to distinguish the details from more critical parts.
As shown in the list above, speed reading has plenty of facets. It isn’t like plain reading, as it includes other tasks when done.
Hence, poor concentration won’t do. Instead, you must stay focused and alert during the entire reading session.
Speed reading techniques
There are four main speed reading techniques. You can go for word chunking, hand pacing, scanning and previewing, and using tools like AccelaReader.
By becoming a speed reader, you are developing a valuable asset that can broaden your knowledge, improve your learning process, or advance your career.
Here are some techniques involved in speed reading:
1. Word chunking
Word chunking involves reading many words at once. With this technique, you can read and comprehend more text quickly.
Word chunking works because a single word cannot convey an entire concept. It must come in clusters or complete sentences to form an understandable statement.
This technique aims to get more significant knowledge by processing words quickly.
But word chunking can be challenging. Reading long passages of text requires experience and a lot of training. In applying this technique, you have to:
- Broaden your vision to encapsulate a vast portion of the page
- Avoid superfluous terms
- Emphasize nouns and verbs, and
- Minimize eye fixation stops
How to learn word chunking
Learning this technique means starting small and honing your skills over a week. You need to feel confident to go on to the next level as you increase your reading speed.
Additionally, it covers more than just how fast you can read. This technique determines where you place your attention inside a word group.
In learning this technique, you can start by reading two to four words at once. And then, you can start increasing the number as you go along.
Begin training with a 10 to 15-minute session. Keep this limit to avoid eye strain.
You can also try the Zig-Zag hand pacing technique once you’ve mastered groups of four words.
Jump from a one-word group to another chunk of words as you go zigzag-style down the page. This way, you can avoid filler words and get straight to the main topic.
2. Hand pacing
Hand pacing is a simple technique that includes moving your index finger or any pointer along or beneath the letters while reading content. Some people also refer to this speed reading technique as “meta guiding” or the “pointer method.”
This strategy is the easiest way to improve your reading performance.
It also helps you maintain attention while browsing through reading materials for an overview.
You can also use a pen or an index card to help you go through words as you read them.
Keep your finger under the line of text you are reading, and move it along as you go.
Doing that will help you focus on the words and prevent you from going back and re-reading sections.
How to learn hand pacing
Pace yourself with your finger or any pointer. It may feel awkward at first. But give yourself a week to get used to it.
First, divide the paper into four equal sections.
Next, draw a line down the center of each section.
Now, practice reading at different speeds and keeping track of your place on the paper with your finger.
When you are reading quickly, make sure to keep your finger close to the line. But when reading slowly, move your finger down, so it is closer to the bottom of the section.
This way, you can stay focused and ensure that you are reading at the correct pace.
If you find hand pacing helpful, you can use it with other speed reading techniques.
For example, you can practice hand pacing using a metronome or other timing device.
That way, you can keep an even pace and improve your reading speed.
3. Scanning and previewing
Scanning and previewing are two critical skills to have when speed reading. Scanning means looking over a text to find its most important points quickly. At the same time, previewing means getting the text’s main idea before you read it in depth.
These skills will help you focus on the most critical information and save time.
Scanning and previewing can strengthen your ability to spot essential sentences in a paragraph.
Because of these techniques, some readers can peruse and grasp an entire page in seconds.
When using this method, keep an eye out for elements like tables, indexes, lines, graphs, and subheadings.
Before delving into the details, identify these crucial components first to get the text’s main idea.
Learning to scan and preview texts
There are a few things you can do to practice scanning and previewing. One is to read news articles online and look for headlines and summary paragraphs. This activity will give you a quick overview of the article without reading it thoroughly.
Another way to practice is to read short passages and try to identify the main point or argument.
You can also try skimming through long texts to find specific information.
Remember that each paragraph typically conveys one topic when using these techniques. Yet paragraphs may frequently link to one another.
After comprehending the basic idea behind each paragraph block, you will soon get the gist. And this may help you grasp the entire chapter much faster.
You may also take a different strategy and only seek the necessary information.
That said, most speed readers only read two things:
- The first sentence of the first paragraph, and
- The first sentence of the last paragraph
These sentences may provide a more relevant summary and allow you to catch up on the main concept.
4. Use speed reading tools
Several different speed reading tools can help beginners learn how to read faster. One popular tool is AccelaReader, which you can use to increase your reading speed by up to 1000 words per minute.
The internet is a giant library of free resources. Search for free lessons and videos available on speed reading. Or enroll in a speed reading course and use a tool to help you save time by avoiding steep learning curves.
Regular training sessions and exercises are essential for improving your reading abilities. These classes or programs can help you attain your goals more quickly with greater precision and discipline.
Such tools and lessons are excellent for beginners learning how to speed read.
One of the best free speed reading tools today is AccelaReader, a speed reader that uses rapid serial visual presentation to flash the things you’ve written at a time.
Using this tool can help you practice reading each word fast. In addition, you can also adjust its settings to increase or decrease the speed by 25 times.
That way, you can learn at your own pace and, eventually, work your way up to the fastest setting.
Tips for increasing your reading speed
The following tips are some of the most important ones you can apply to learn speed reading:
Because most individuals read by pronouncing the words in their brains, they tend to read at roughly the same rate as they talk. This statement implies that your reading speed can only increase if you keep vocalizing everything you read.
The inner monologue, also known as subvocalization, is typical for readers. This process happens when you choose to read aloud as you did as a kid.
It is the process of reciting the words in your brain while you read and is the most significant impediment to increasing your reading speed.
Don’t be concerned about hearing voices in your brain while reading. You’re alright if it’s your voice reading along with you.
This approach entails how instructors educate children to read, especially when they ask kids to pronounce the words privately in their heads while reading.
If you want to improve your reading speed, this is the first hurdle you must conquer. To achieve this, you must first realize that it is unneeded.
You don’t have to say every word in your brain to understand what you’re reading. You can input the meaning simply by viewing specific words. Your brain is still processing the data.
If you have trouble doing this, try reading while listening to instrumental music through headphones or chewing gum.
A distraction will delay your brain from focusing on subvocalization, but you will still glance at and comprehend the words.
When you re-read words on a page, you backtrack over texts and take even longer to finish the material. To retain information even longer, practice reading paragraphs without repeating them. That way, you can train your brain to actively have data for easier recall.
If you observe the average person’s eyes while reading, you will see that they bounce and flicker around. They don’t flow back and forth equally.
Naturally, people tend to reread words they have previously read.
And that is one factor preventing you from increasing your reading speed.
You most likely do this without even realizing it, making it a difficult habit to quit.
The simplest method, even if it may feel silly, is to use your finger or a bookmark to help you along. Continue to move your finger over the paragraphs without pausing or stopping.
This practice prevents your eyes from darting back to earlier words, slowing down your reading.
Once you finish reading everything, try to think about what you’ve learned. Avoid looking at the material when you can’t recall anything.
Instead, train your brain to work harder at retrieving information.
That way, you’d remember the same amount of knowledge as you would’ve read slowly.
Use your peripheral vision
It’s essential to use peripheral vision when speed reading. Don’t focus on the text in front of you. Try glancing at it from the corner of your eye.
Use the strategies described above to examine and comprehend several words at once.
Instead of chunking words into smaller groupings, consider reading one line at a time.
Stare at the middle of the line and read the remainder using your peripheral vision.
Scanning the page this way will indicate that you not only understand what you read but that you’ve also done it on time.
Enthusiasm piques our attention and encourages us to focus and absorb more of what we read, allowing us to read more quickly and retain more information.
It can take a lot of work to become excited about reading. Sometimes, the material can seem uninteresting. And having to finish it might need extra time, mental tension, and distinct notes on the subject.
But, with a bit of practice and the right attitude, you can develop an enthusiasm for speed reading that will make the task more enjoyable and easier to complete.
Try to get into a positive mindset before you start reading. This could mean taking a few deep breaths, listening to music, or focusing on something that makes you happy.
Then, start reading the material at a comfortable pace. Try not to focus on how fast or slow you’re going at first. Let your eyes move across the words and take in as much information as possible.
As you continue reading, you can start to increase your speed gradually. But always go at a pace that feels comfortable to you and allows you to absorb the information correctly.
Finally, remember to keep your focus on the material itself. Don’t let yourself be distracted by things going on around you. This way, you can stay engaged and continue reading quickly without making mistakes.
Don’t forget your timer
Every time you read, put yourself to the test and concentrate on improving your reading speed. Start a stopwatch for one minute and try to speed read as the time passes. When the timer runs off, determine how many pages you’ve read and how much information you can recall.
If you’re looking to improve your reading speed, one of the best ways to do so is by using a timer.
Start by setting a goal for yourself. For instance, try reading one page in two minutes. Once you’ve mastered that, gradually increase your destination and the time you give yourself to read each page.
Practicing is essential for skill development and memory. Make it a habit to read various books often rather than reading for only one month and then putting it off.
When reading for practice, make an effort to push yourself.
Rereading the same content repeatedly to get better at it is useless. While reading the same material rapidly each time, you cannot transfer these abilities to other readings and academic papers.
So, be sure to exercise your reading and learning abilities effectively.
Go over more straightforward texts slowly at first and then go on.
Then, push yourself by reading texts that include increasingly complex content, vocabulary, and sentence patterns.
Likewise, give yourself time and breaks.
Make an effort to move a bit faster than you did previously.
You will gradually but steadily enhance your reading abilities in this manner.
How long does it take to learn speed reading
You can learn speed reading in two to four weeks with effort and consistency. However, this timeframe depends on how much work you’re willing to put in.
Speed reading is a skill that anyone can learn relatively quickly. But developing it requires effort, time, dedication, and practice.
You will need to speed up your comprehension rate as well. But overall, the effort you put in will determine how long it takes for you to double your reading speed.
How to learn speed reading fast
Here is how you can learn to increase your reading speed fast.
Avoid interruptions when reading
Learning is most effective in a setting free from outside distractions.
Choose a place with as minimal distractions as possible so you can fully concentrate on the material you are reading.
Simple tips include keeping your phone away to avoid checking your social media feeds every ten minutes. Focus entirely on the content. And more importantly, learn to take breaks when needed.
Exhaustion can occasionally be a significant distraction if you cannot read after a session.
If this feeling of tiredness takes place, take a breath and rest. Once done, go for another speed reading session with renewed vigor.
Repeat until you have achieved your WPM goals.
Understand why you’re reading
Speed reading is easier if you know your purpose for investing significant time in specific reading material.
Your information should ideally align with pertinent words or paragraphs in the text.
After taking your time to comprehend these crucial passages, you may read the remainder of the material fast.
For instance, you might be interested in a particular situation. You’d want to discover what findings and methodologies are currently related to the circumstance.
Hence, you can concentrate on and provide extra attention to specific literature.
Doing this allows you to read the entire document while swiftly remembering key details.
Take courses that can help you learn speed reading fast
You can take a few supplemental courses related to speed reading. Check out this 90-minute course on maximizing memory and other lessons that can help you develop new skills.
If you frequently lose track of what you’ve just read, you might not be able to read rapidly. You need to review the same material again until it gets ingrained into your memory.
However, practical memory training may teach you to concentrate and improve your recollection abilities.
You may also take other online lessons to develop skills related to speed reading, like managing productivity. This course can help you effectively plan your day and allocate the right amount of time to learning speed reading.
Factors that may influence your reading speed
Five factors may influence the time you need to boost your reading speed:
The type of information you’re reading
Increasing your reading speed might take some time if the material you are reading is very technical.
If the text is difficult to skim through, it will impact your reading comprehension. Hence, complex sentence structures and vocabulary may affect your reading speed.
The scope of information you need
If you’re only looking for significant subtopics, then you can settle for the broad strokes and skip the specifics.
However, it will take some time to boost your reading speed if you’re trying to take notes and study the content’s intricacies.
Knowledge of the subject
If you’re reading something familiar, you can spend less time engaging with the text. But if you’re delving into something you have yet to learn about, it may take you much more time.
Familiarity with the subject will empower you to read and finish it quickly. By then, the text will seem easy to digest, especially if you have background information about the topic, like real-world and literary knowledge.
However, when reading something new, you could be actively understanding it. Hence, you might need more time to increase your reading speed.
One of the main things determining your reading speed is your fluency in the language used in the text. You will only need a little time to increase your reading speed if you practice reading in a language close to home.
However, practicing literature in a new language and mastering its reading might take more than a month.
Your reading speed is also influenced by how well-versed you are in its terminology. Reading complex vocabulary texts like technical papers or classic novels might be more difficult.
Once you encounter words unfamiliar to you, you should pause and find out what they mean to understand the text better.
Plus, if you’re only working on little knowledge about a specific language, then it may take you a few weeks to become proficient in speed reading a page written in it.
However, if you practice reading online blogs and articles, you may fast-track your reading speed.
Benefits of speed reading
Speed reading comes with plenty of advantages:
Increased reading speed
Adults have an average reading speed of about 200 to 300 words per minute. However, you can learn to read significantly quicker with speed reading — around 1500 words per minute.
At first, this speed of reading might seem impossible. But that doesn’t mean it’s unachievable.
You can read up to three times faster than the average reader using the above tips and techniques. By then, you’d be able to develop all the other things listed below.
Increased brain power
Speed reading maximizes your brain’s capacity. Developing this skill leads to improved concentration, an increased number of ideas, and widened knowledge about specific topics.
You will also learn to think fast as your brain actively uses its power to understand things quickly.
Speed reading requires intense attention. And if you do it often, this level of focus becomes automatic.
Getting things done often involves removing distractions and focusing on the work. That’s why in speed reading, you learn to develop a state of attention that educates your mind to disregard everything else but this one task.
You may then utilize the same talent to do your daily activities. That will double your productivity and boost your self-esteem.
Improved discipline and memory
Learning to read fast requires discipline. As you dedicate enough time and commitment to speed reading, you can apply it in other areas of your life. You will also be able to store and retrieve information faster, which will be helpful in both academic and professional settings.
Every new talent takes commitment and practice. Setting objectives, dedicating time daily or weekly to training, and experimenting with various approaches to speed reading help you create a character that you can apply to other tasks you’re working on.
Reading quickly also helps your brain become better at absorbing and retaining information. Hence, you can keep or use whatever you’ve learned for a more extended period.
Speed reading helps you learn more in less time. Hence, the sooner you acquire the knowledge you need, the sooner you can apply them in real life.
Learning information rapidly can help you in life by making it easier to develop new things and better grasp complicated issues.
Furthermore, understanding and adapting swiftly can provide an advantage at work since you can easily keep up with developments in your industry.
Finally, the ability to learn fast can help you become a more informed and well-rounded person.
Takeaway: Learning to speed read is not easy, but it’s worth it
Learning to speed read may take time, patience, effort, and dedication, but the benefits are innumerable.
Not only will you be able to learn, store, and recall information well. But you will also be able to develop a set of values that can get you far in life, such as discipline, consistency, and focus.
Start with 10 to 15 timed practice sessions to improve your reading speed. Remember to set your goals and focus on your breathing and comprehension. Remember to keep track of your progress and move your way up to longer and more complex texts.
Finally, recall what you’ve learned without looking back at the text. Train your mind to speed read, and you’ll be able to reap the benefits in no time!
At Iris Reading, you’ll find various Speed Reading, Memory, and Productivity Courses. Explore them to develop new skills today.