How to Speed Read for Increased Comprehension (Explained!)
Learning how to speed read improves not only your overall reading process but also your reading comprehension. That’s because practicing speed reading accelerates your brain processes and boosts your memory, leading to increased comprehension.
Sometimes when people come across the words “speed reading,” what immediately comes to mind are ways of reading faster than the average reader.
However, that concept is only partially true, because being a speed reader goes beyond increasing your reading pace.
It also means being able to read plenty of word groups while absorbing more than one line of information at the same time.
So if you need to learn how to read and understand words fast, this post is for you.
Because in this article, you will learn all the key points necessary to determine what it truly means to increase your reading speed for increased comprehension.
What is speed reading?
Speed reading is reading several words per a specified unit of time. Instead of focusing on individual words, speed readers do word group reading in phrases, sentences, or even lines.
You can also define it as a method of reading that aims to go across multiple words at once without losing comprehension.
However, speed reading is more than just the ability to read faster.
It also aims to help readers absorb key sentences simultaneously, which means more information is taken in depth.
How does speed reading affect your comprehension
The human brain is a muscle, while speed reading is an exercise.
Learning how to speed read strengthens the brain and thus enhances our ability to comprehend what we read by engaging both hemispheres of the brain, boosting your memory, optimizing your focus, and improving your logical thinking.
With constant practice, speed reading empowers the brain to improve its performance in the following areas:
1. Engaging the left and right hemispheres of the brain
Speed reading intensifies the brain’s abilities, as going through texts requires both the left and the right sides of the brain, particularly in:
- Processing word chunks
- Taking in specific words, and
- Understanding the main idea of a sentence or any group of words on a page.
The left side is responsible for various things, including scientific ability, spoken languages, and mathematical skills.
On the other hand, the right hemisphere controls creativity, vision, memory, and imagination.
2. Developing your reading speed and memory
People who use both sides of the brain can attain extraordinary reading speeds while retaining more knowledge and memory.
That said, learning how to speed read makes you an efficient reader.
Mastering this skill will enable you to absorb information quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, speed reading boosts your memory. It increases your brain’s performance, causing you to recall more material than usual.
3. Optimizing focus for greater productivity
Speed reading also enhances focus. Because the brain receives and keeps so much knowledge during speed reading, distraction is greatly reduced for higher reading productivity.
Hence, the brain concentrates entirely on speed reading tasks, including word chunking, taking in the main idea, and keeping or retaining information for later.
4. Improving logical thinking
Focusing on speed reading engages the mind and improves logical reasoning. Because the brain organizes and processes information quickly, it automatically connects the dots when faced with challenges and opportunities.
That explains why speed reading enables you to:
- Access previously read and accumulated data
- Identify existing patterns within situations, and
- Generate novel ideas when necessary
Speed reading techniques for increased comprehension
The following are five effective speed reading techniques you can use to improve your comprehension.
Skim the text before reading it
Whatever you want to read, attempt to preview it and skim it before plunging into it. That way, you can decide which portions of the text to skip and where the key information is located.
It’s pointless to read everything from beginning to end. Read only what is absolutely necessary.
To gain a sense of the topic, browse through the headlines, names, figures, tables, graphs, photos, extracts, and content boxes. If you want, you can also simply fly over the page.
Reading the opening first five words of each nonfiction book section will offer you a rapid review of the most significant concepts and information.
Remember, a good reader already knows what the material is about just before he begins to read in detail.
Relax and train your eye muscles to speed read
The eyes have muscles that require consistent training to strengthen over time. This means your eyes are trainable to go over reading materials at a certain speed.
The eye muscles, like any other muscle in the body, will benefit from adequate care and exercise.
Because your eye muscles can quickly weary, making reading more difficult, it is critical to give the eye plenty of rest in between heavy reading periods. You may train these muscles to exhaust less quickly by doing the right speed reading exercises:
- Read in a well-lighted area.
- Take breaks.
- Read in a comfortable position to avoid eye strain.
- Keep your feet on the ground at a 90-degree angle.
Do a manual test
Find out how many words you can read and understand in a certain period and work your way up from there.
You cannot improve something you’re completely unaware of. Before you even begin to learn speed reading, grab a timer and see how many words you can read and understand in a minute.
That way, you can learn how to read fast without losing comprehension of what is written.
Improve your vocabulary and use context clues
Understanding the meaning of the words you are reading will aid with comprehending the overall meaning of the text.
To improve your vocabulary, you can:
- Read as much as possible to expose yourself to new words
- Take note of unfamiliar words
- Use newly learned words in daily communication to internalize them.
However, there are instances when you won’t know the meaning of every word in a text. In this case, instead of looking up each word in the dictionary, you can try using context clues to grasp the meaning of what you read. The words and phrases surrounding the terms you are not familiar with are your context clues.
Practice active recall
Active recall helps you determine what you’ve learned from reading a text. This method also helps you retain the information you’ve read so you can recall it anytime you wish.
The principle of active recall is simple. You just have to exert effort to remember everything you’ve learned after reading it. It’s a technique often used by students when studying for long examinations because it works long-term.
This method includes familiarizing yourself with the material, which you already do when speed reading it. What’s left is to force yourself to remember the information you’ve come across in the text and determine whether you’ve accurately recalled it.
Can speed reading improve your comprehension?
Yes, speed reading improves comprehension. Because this skill requires intense focus and engagement, the reader’s brain can visualize the context faster, hence leading to greater and quicker understanding.
But increased reading comprehension aside, speed reading also comes with other advantages:
Speed reading will increase your average reading speed
Learning to speed read will enable you to read word groups more than you can usually finish within your average speed. This skill makes a speed reader absorb and understand more than one word at a time.
According to studies, a person’s average reading speed is between 200 to 300 words per minute.
Now, at first glance, that rate may seem like a lot. But once we convert that bracket into pages, that speed will only get you about one to two pages per 60 seconds.
However, imagine how much time you can save and how much more you can do once that speed improves.
With speed reading, this average speed can go up at least five times.
And that’s because knowing how to execute this skill requires plenty of techniques, including the pointer method, hand pacing technique, word chunking, and many others.
Speed reading can help you reverse bad reading habits
Other than reading chunks of words in a minute, speed reading includes essential tips that you can use to correct every bad reading habit that you’ve learned as a child.
Because of how we were taught to read, most of us have developed bad habits that we can’t eliminate.
One of these poor reading practices is subvocalization, where we read aloud or verbalize every word we see when reading certain materials.
This habit also applies whenever we read with our minds and find ourselves saying the words in our heads.
This way of reading slows down our speed, as the average talking pace is only around 150 words per minute.
Plus, it also adds to the things our human brain does when reading, thus hindering comprehension.
The good thing is, in speed reading, subvocalization or auditory reassurance, among other things that trigger bad reading habits, is highly discouraged.
Speed reading will help you develop discipline
Speed reading requires consistency, dedication, effort, and commitment. Developing this skill requires you to establish certain practices,
In scheduling training sessions for speed reading, you create a reading goal for each.
You set objectives and experiment with various speed reading techniques. You read chunks of words and work your way up every time you surpass your daily goal.
You do what it takes to avoid distractions while you intend to practice word group reading.
You apply memory techniques to absorb and retain the information you’ve read.
You constantly read various materials, whether in a digital or physical format.
To be a good reader, you follow both online and traditional offline methods in the proper posture.
How to learn speed reading and increase comprehension fast
Check out the following tips below if you want to learn speed reading without losing comprehension of any material:
Choose a place without distractions
The best learning environments are free from outside disturbances. Choose a location with as few diversions as possible to dedicate your entire focus to learning how to speed read.
Moreover, make an effort to keep your training area free of interruptions. Keep your phone out of sight to resist yourself from viewing your social media feeds.
However, despite the time and effort necessary to master this skill, don’t forget to take occasional breaks to avoid exhaustion.
So if you find yourself unable to read for some reason, try taking a break for at least 15 minutes. And go back to speed reading again.
Establish a purpose for reading
Knowing why you’re spending a lot of time on a certain piece of reading makes speed reading easier.
Once you’ve established your purpose, like studying a certain topic, find trigger words about the subject and read the remaining text after. That way, you can read with cohesiveness and take the time you need to understand what the topic is all about.
On the other hand, if you’re intrigued by a certain scenario, identify what approaches, strategies, and outcomes are related to it. Find a related text or literature, then practice your speed reading skills on it.
Doing this allows you to read the whole thing while quickly recalling important information.
Enroll in supplemental programs that can help you master speed reading easily
Speed reading is easier to learn when studying it with other skills. Take a look at this 90-minute course on maximizing memory, for instance. You can also check out Iris Reading for more other courses you can take to acquire new abilities.
If you regularly forget about the things you’ve recently read or anything, you may find yourself going through the same stuff again until it is etched in your mind.
So taking a course on memory techniques may help.
You can also check out additional online training to improve your speed reading abilities, such as managing productivity. This might assist you in making an efficient daily schedule and setting up enough time to practice speed reading.
A certificate of completion and access to several webinars are also included in this course. So taking any of it is worth every penny.
Tips for speed reading
Whether you’re learning how to speed read via cell phone, a computer screen, online, or offline, there are many tips that you can use to learn how to speed read quickly. You can check out some of them below:
Avoid reading aloud
Most people learn how to read by speaking every word in their heads. In effect, they read at nearly the same tempo as they speak, which is a disadvantage, as the average speaking rate is only 150 words per minute.
Readers frequently have an inner monologue while reading certain texts — a habit referred to as subvocalization. This method of reading occurs because you were taught to read like that as a child.
This process of mentally reciting the words as you read is one of the most obvious barriers to raising your reading speed. Because you can only read at the same speed as you speak, your average reading speed is limited to 150 words per minute.
So if you hear voices in your brain while reading, that’s okay. Because when you were young, your parents and instructors must’ve taught you to read that way: to pronounce every word in your head (or aloud) as you went along.
However, if you want to increase your reading speed with every subsequent page, this is the first obstacle you must overcome. You don’t have to say every word in your brain to understand what you’re reading, so doing it this way is completely unnecessary.
Now that you’re all grown up, you can easily understand what a word means just by reading it through the material. Your brain can now interpret its meaning and how it applies to the entire context.
But, if removing this habit is difficult for you, you can try to practice speed reading along with some instrumental music. This distraction will divert your attention away from subvocalization, but you will still be able to read and comprehend the words.
Avoid re-reading the entire text
When you reread the words on a page, you regress through texts, thus taking a long time to grasp the material. Practice reading paragraphs without repeating them to remember knowledge even longer. This way, you can actively train your brain to remember, retain, and recall information whenever necessary.
If you look at a speed reader’s eyes while reading, you will see that their sight jumps and flickers on lines of words instead of flowing back and forth.
As some individuals tend to go over the words they’ve already read, they are teaching their brains that there is no need to remember whatever’s written in the material as the content is easily accessible.
Aside from slowing down your reading speed, this mindset also hinders the brain from actively remembering the information at once.
Most people are probably doing it without even noticing, making it a difficult habit to identify and break. So if you’re completely aware of having this problem, the best way to stop yourself from immersing in it again is by guiding yourself when reading.
You can try sliding your index finger across a few texts or use any pacing tool if possible. Continue to use this method across the succeeding paragraphs without stopping. This way, you can keep your eyes from leaping back to previous words, which slows down your reading.
Once you’ve finished reading everything, remember what you’ve learned and reflect on it. Don’t look at the content again if you can’t remember some details. Train your brain to work harder to retrieve information.
That way, you’d be able to retain the same amount of information as you normally would. If you’ve achieved this reading goal, increase the number of pages you’d use in your subsequent speed reading sessions.
Take advantage of your peripheral vision
Using your peripheral vision while speed reading helps your eyes scan the entire page. That way, you wouldn’t have to concentrate on the text word for word anymore.
Instead, you can collectively attempt to go over the entire page and absorb as much information as possible just by gazing at it out of the corner of your eye.
Use the procedures discussed above to study and grasp many words simultaneously.
Instead of breaking up words into tiny chunks, try reading the text one line at a time.
Build a passion for reading
Passion and enthusiasm draw our attention and motivate us to concentrate and absorb more of what we read, helping us to read faster and remember more information.
It’s tough to become thrilled about reading a lot. The content might appear dull at times. And finishing it may take additional effort, mental strain, and distinct comments on the subject.
However, with a little practice and the proper mindset, you may build a passion for speed reading, making the activity more fun and simpler to accomplish.
Before you begin reading, try to view reading as an enjoyable activity. Put yourself in a good mood. Take a few deep breaths, listen to music, and begin reading some literature you’re interested in.
Then, at your own pace, begin speed reading the content. At first, try not to think about how quickly or slowly you’re moving. Allow your eyes to roam across the words, soaking in as much information as possible.
Don’t feel pressured to learn how to speed read at once, as you may end up exhausted. Remember, you can progressively raise your reading speed as you go along. Go at a pace that’s comfortable for you. That way, your mind won’t think of speed reading as a taxing task.
Finally, remember to maintain your attention on the material. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by what is going on around you. Stay focused and speed read without making errors.
Use a timer to challenge yourself
Challenge yourself as you learn how to speed read. Give yourself a manual test to determine how many words you can read in a minute, and try to improve with time.
Set a one-minute timer and try to read faster each time. When the timer runs off, calculate how many pages you’ve read and how much of the material you can retain.
Using a timer to enhance your reading speed is one of the most effective strategies to learn speed reading fast. And by setting a personal objective for yourself, you are emphasizing how serious you are about mastering the skill.
Before starting every speed reading session, set a reading goal and check how much you’ve improved after. And aim to increase that number in time progressively.
Be consistent in your practice
Consistent practice is necessary for skill improvement and memory retention. Make it a habit to read various books regularly instead of just reading a few paragraphs for a month without finishing the entire thing.
Attempt to challenge yourself when reading for practice. Exercise your reading speed and learning skills.
Start with basic texts and work your way up to complex literature.
Then, challenge yourself to understand and absorb more complicated substance, vocabulary, and sentence structures.
Allow yourself time and breaks as well. But try your best to go higher each time. That way, you can slowly improve your reading speed and ability to keep and recall information whenever necessary.
Takeaway: Learn speed reading today
Anyone can learn speed reading. However, mastering this skill takes time. You can’t learn it in one go, but the rewards of learning it are tremendous.
You will not only be able to acquire, retain, and retrieve knowledge effectively, you will also be able to establish a set of qualities that will help you succeed in life, like focus, consistency, discipline, and commitment.
To enhance your reading speed, begin with a 10 to 15-minute timed session. Define your reading goals for that specific day and concentrate on the task. Remember to keep track of your progress as you go through longer and more challenging pieces.
Lastly, try to retain the information you’ve learned without regressing. That way, you’d be able to increase your brain’s capacity to read fast without losing comprehension at all.
Visit Iris Reading to develop new skills today.