How to Speed Read for College (10 Tips from the Pros)
As a college student, you can develop your speed reading skills by unlearning subvocalization, training your peripheral vision, giving your eyes something to follow, such as a finger, and reading in word chunks as opposed to one continuous passage.
How often a day do you use your reading skills as a college student? A lot!
You continuously read and absorb information from academic writings, scientific studies, or books from different eras. Probably 100–200 words per minute.
But imagine how much faster you could absorb information if you could quadruple that number.
Well, it’s possible!
In this blog post, we will discuss how you can increase your reading speed by familiarizing yourself with the potent combination of speed reading techniques.
1. Begin with something easy
When trying fast reading for the first time, begin with something simple. If you start with your AP US History book, for instance, you’ll surely detest speed reading because you won’t retain half of what you read.
Start with something easy and make it a habit to speed-read a book at various intervals over a few days. Pick a book you have liked reading in the past.
Over time, gradually advance to academic reading.
2. Preview the text
It is helpful to watch the movie trailer before watching the actual film to know what to expect.
Just like previewing a movie, skimming through text before trying to understand it helps you learn it more rapidly. The best way to preview a text is to skim it from the first to the last word for important information.
Pay close attention to headings, subheadings, anything in bold or large type, and bullet points. Skim the introductory and final paragraphs to grasp the main ideas.
Look for transitional phrases, scrutinize any graphs or visuals, and determine how the author organized the content.
3. Use the pointer method
The pointer method is a quick and easy reading enhancement technique, also known as hand pacing, that enables you to read faster while keeping your level of anxiety constant.
Most of us learned it in primary school, but for some reason, as we became older, we stopped using this method.
Evelyn Wood, who invented fast reading, pioneered the pointer technique. It entails dragging the pointer or index finger below the sentence you’re going to read and across the page.
Your general focus and quickness will improve as a result. The quickest method to learn how to speed read is to pace yourself.
4. Train your eyes
Training your eyes to scan the page quickly and accurately is a big part of speed reading. Speed reading employs muscles you don’t often use that way, which puts a lot more stress on your eyes.
Trace specific shapes like hourglasses, stars, or crosses on the wall across from you to sharpen your vision.
5. Practice using your peripheral vision
When fast reading, it’s best to merely skim a page and let your brain do the rest of the work. Even if you aren’t even aware of what you’ve read, you can remember it.
To do this effectively, you must become more adept at letting your eyes wander a little, or rather, learn to focus on everything you see rather than just the central object.
Try to become aware of everything that is on the edge of your range of vision while looking at the wall on the other side.
6. Read chunks of words
One of the main abilities to develop when learning how to speed read is the ability to read chunks of words. It takes the longest to learn compared to other speed-reading approaches.
As the name implies, the technique entails reading groups of words rather than single words. The intention is to minimize the number of “stops” your eyes make while reading.
Your comprehension rate and, consequently, your quick reading skills will significantly improve once you start reading in chunks.
Read this article about reading in chunks to get started. It offers strategies and tips that are crucial.
7. Don’t subvocalize
Since this is exactly how we were trained to read, it is completely normal to say almost every word in your brain as you read. Listening and reading aloud helped us learn how to read. It should be no surprise that this results in a quiet reading tempo that naturally mimics our speaking pace.
This is the first habit you need to get out of the way if you want to learn how to read quickly. Your brain processes words and sentences much more quickly than you can speak them out loud.
The next time you read, pay attention to how your internal reading voice naturally follows the words and try to train it not to do so.
To stop subvocalization, increase the reading speed at which you scan the words and concentrate on recognizing each word without subvocalizing it. You’ll eventually be able to take this a step further and understand complete phrases and sentences without having to read each word individually.
8. Pay attention
Have you ever read something to discover that you failed to keep or comprehend it? You end up beginning over and making another attempt.
To stop yourself from getting distracted in this way, try reading in a quite space, turn off your phone’s notifications, and focus by making mental images of what your read in your head.
Just consider how much more memorable a video is compared to a printed essay. This is due to a video’s naturally engaging audio and visual elements.
You may also conjure up this kind of visual in your imagination while reading, although it will require a lot more work than simply turning on a video.
Consider sensory aspects such as colors, forms, smells, and noises. While reading, pause occasionally to consider your mental image. Do the specifics match the narrative?
You can use this method on anything, including academic textbooks. You’ll have an easier time remembering and comprehending the steps of photosynthesis if you visually picture the process rather than just trying to memorize instructions written out on paper.
9. Choose an environment that is conducive to reading
Find a quiet area to read because it is nearly impossible to do speed read in a noisy setting. Additionally, ensure that your reading position is comfortable.
The reading material should be at a 45-degree angle to lessen eyestrain and speed up reading.
Avoid reading challenging topics in bed. Keep this stuff at your desk for when you are seated correctly.
10. Use speed reading tools
Utilizing fast reading tools like AccelaReader is among the simplest methods to begin your foray into speed reading. Anyone can use it for free to develop their speed reading abilities.
This program uses a method known as Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation (RSVP).
It entails arranging every word in a text in the same location and ordering them sequentially. By using this method, you can avoid the jerky eye movements that happen when you try to read a passage of text word for word.
By using this method, you can prevent your eyes from straying from what has to be read to other things. You may quickly read up to 400 words per minute using the RSVP technique.
For instance, the average college student reads only 230–250 words per minute, while speed readers manage up to 700 words per minute. Aim for between 250 and 350 words per minute as a starting point.
As you progress, the AccelaReader lets you regulate your reading speed and the number of words in each chunk.
Takeaway: Speed reading is all about technique
It takes time to speed up your reading. You must become proficient at scanning and skimming texts. You’ll also need to broaden your vocabulary and reading comprehension while improving your word grouping and chunking skills.
You’ll get better at it by combining all these methods to gain solid speed reading abilities. Gaining proficiency in speed and comprehension will improve your confidence and attention.
At Iris Reading, we offer a Speed Reading Foundation Course that will help you become a better student. Additionally, it will be useful for reading and research as you advance in your academic or professional career.