The amount of information we come across and have to absorb is increasing exponentially. Blog Posts, Instagram captions, news articles, magazines, let alone books, are flooding the daily reading routine of an average adult who grasps around 300 wpm according to Staples. Students tend to catch 450 wpm to keep up with the academic pace. But one look at a year’s book list and it becomes clear that it’s impossible to cover it at such speed. So is there any way to deal with the syllabi without practising magic outside Hogwarts?
The tool for getting through thick folios in record time is speed reading. This skill lies in quick recognition and coverage of long enough phrases other than single words to shorten the processing time. An average speed-reader reaches 1500 wpm which allows one to cover 172 pages of text per hour, while a student deprived of such a skill is only able to get through 52 pages per hour. The figures speak for themselves.
How To Develop The Speed Reading Skill
If you think that you’ll need to break all the reading habits you’ve been taught in kindergarten, you’re wrong. But there will be some aspects you’ll have to alter to release the natural limits of your reading speed by following certain techniques.
The essence of the technique is clear from its title. You should focus on the beginning and the end of each chapter-section-paragraph-sentence of a paragraph of a book to grasp the main concepts. The front and back end always contain an introduction and summary, without any other minor necessity information. Reading in such a way, by skimming the main part of the text is efficient for the majority of fiction and non-fiction academic literature. However, mind that if you need to get a deep and clear understanding of a book, take your time to read more carefully without skimming.
The Tracker Method
The point of the technique is to trace the line while you’re reading to avoid losing the track. You can use your finger, a pen, or a card to keep a better focus on the lines. The point is not to move the tracker right-leftwards, but only down the lines, spending around a second on each one. It may seem at first that a second is not enough for clear comprehension - just give your brain some time, its adaptation ability is better than you think.
The Scanning Method
This method allows you to reach the ultimate reading speed. Here you should scan the page, taking out the keywords and phrases that will give you the main idea of the context. The scanning technique involves peripheral vision, unburdening the central vision for grasping the concept-bearing sentences. If your aim is to get through a book and memorize its basic sense, organize the outtakes in a mind-map.
Speed Reading Tips And Tricks
It’s hard to implement the above-described techniques without knowing little speed-boosting tricks. Note, that it’s not necessary to use all of them to reach your potential maximum - just pick a couple and see what works best for you.
Scan Before You Read
Yes, it means you’ll have to go through the text twice. No, it won’t take you more time. The point is that scanning takes a couple of minutes, but it saves a lot of time during your second reading because you will already know which concepts you’re going to meet. If you encounter some unclear notions during the scanning phase, google them right away, so that to save a considerable amount of time on pausing the deeper reading phase.
Turn Subvocalizing Off
Subvocalizing means pronouncing the words in your mind, and surprisingly, this option of our brain can be turned off. Why do so? Because it slows our reading speed down, while without it we can read twice faster. To turn it off you’ll need to use a background distraction, such as music, food, or the mentioned tracking method.
Group The Words
The central tip for faster reading is reading phrases as a whole, without singling out separate words. Our eyes can process almost a whole line of words at a time, the tip here is to look at the middle of it by the central vision and leave the ends for the peripheral one. By doing so you save a great deal of time and don’t let subvocalization in.
If you think that reading influences understanding, you’re not completely right. In case you got distracted from the subject matter, rereading is undoubtedly helpful for getting on track. But if you didn’t get the point while being attentive, don’t waste your time going through the same line over and over again. You’ll get a clearer understanding further in the context or google it if it’s too important to skip.
Create A Non-Destructive Surrounding
Some people can’t read unless they are the only sound in the room. Such silence is always possible to be found in libraries but what if you majorly study at home and you’re not the only inhabitant of the apartment? In such a case you’ll have to develop the ability to focus on the reading in any atmosphere by relying on subvocalization as an inner distraction. Or you can make a deal with your family members to give you an hour of silence per day.
Understand The Reading Aims
Speed reading is important for covering academic books that do not require deep indulgence. But if your reading aim is to enjoy a book or get deep into details, understand the words said between the lines, then save the speed reading techniques for later.
Extra Speed Reading Resources
Using the tips and speed reading techniques is great, but these are not the only ways you can boost your progress. There are numerous courses, web apps, extensions, and guide books to help you achieve your goal.
Speed Reading Courses
Speed Reading Books
- The Speed Reading Book by Tony Buzan
- The Evelyn Wood's Seven- Day Speed Reading and Learning Program by Stanley D. Frank
- Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump
- Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by Stanislas Dehaene
- 10 Days to Faster Reading by The Princeton Language Institute, Abby Marks Beale
Speed Reading Apps
The Final Thought
Speed reading is a must if you’re going to study for a degree. By integrating the basics into your daily reading routine you can easily save up hours and digest twice as many books as you used to. But note that reading is not only about swallowing hundreds of pages in no time, it’s also about joy, relaxation, and thoughtful immersion in the author’s world. So don’t forget to switch your reading modes while getting down to another book.