Tips And Treats
Tips for Increasing Reading Speed
Even when you know how to ignore irrelevant detail, there are other technical improvements you can make to your reading style which will increase your reading speed.
Most people learn to read the way young children read - either letter-by-letter, or word-by-word. For most adults, this is probably not the case - think about how your eye muscles are moving now. You will probably find that you are fixing your eyes on one block of words, then moving your eyes to the next block of words, and so on. You are reading blocks of words at a time, not individual words one-by-one. You may also notice that you do not always go from one block to the next: sometimes you may move back to a previous block if you are unsure about something.
Last Updated - 22nd November 2005
A skilled reader will read many words in each block. He or she will only dwell on each block for an instant, and will then move on. Only rarely will the reader's eyes skip back to a previous block of words. This reduces the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do. It also increases the volume of information that can be examined in a period of time.
A poor reader will become bogged down, spending a lot of time reading small blocks of words. He or she will skip back often, losing the flow and structure of the text and overall understanding of the subject. This irregular eye movement will make reading tiring. Poor readers tend to dislike reading, and may find it harder to concentrate and understand written information.
Speed reading aims to improve reading skills by:
- increasing the number of words read in each block
- reducing the length of time spent reading each block, and
- reducing the number of times your eyes skip back to a previous sentence.
These are explained below:
- Increasing the number of words in each block :
This needs a conscious effort. Try to expand the number of words that you read at a time. Practice will help you to read faster. You may also find that you can increase the number of words read by holding the text a little further from your eyes. The more words you can read in each block, the faster you will read!
- Reducing Fixation Time :
The minimum length of time needed to read each block is probably only a quarter of a second. By pushing yourself to reduce the time you take, you will get better at picking up information quickly. Again, this is a matter of practice and confidence.
- Reducing Skip-Back :
To reduce the number of times that your eyes skip back to a previous sentence, run a pointer along the line as you read. This could be a finger, or a pen or pencil. Your eyes will follow the tip of your pointer, smoothing the flow of your reading. The speed at which you read using this method will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer.
You will be able to increase your reading speed a certain amount on your own by applying speed reading techniques. What you don't get out of self-study is the use of specialist reading machines and the confidence gained from successful speed-reading - this is where a good one-day course can revolutionize your reading skills.
In order to make our speed increase we must take in more words with each fixation, rather than make our eyes move faster.
- Try to avoid focusing on every word, but rather look at groups of 2 to 3 words. For instance, this sentence could be grouped in this manner:
for instance / this sentence / could be grouped / in this manner
- Work on vocabulary improvement. Familiarize yourself with new words so you don't get stuck on them when you read them again.
- If you find yourself moving your lips when reading, force yourself to read faster by following (1.) above so that you can no longer move your lips.
- Read more! 15 minutes a day of reading an average size novel equals 18 books a year at an average reading speed!
- Determine your purpose before reading. If you only need main ideas, then allow yourself to skim the material. Don't feel you must read very word.
- Spend a few minutes a day reading at a faster than comfortable rate (about 2 to 3 times faster than your normal speed). Use your hand or an index card to guide your eyes down the page. Then time yourself reading a few pages at your normal speed. You'll find that often your normal reading speed will increase after your skimming practice.
- If you have poor concentration when reading, practice reading for only 5 - 10 minutes at a time and gradually increase this time.
- There are several books on increasing reading speed available in most bookstores. If you are serious about increasing your rate you may want to work systematically through one of these books.
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