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Speed Reading: How to Read Faster and Comprehend Better

It took me almost a month and a half to read 450 page book. I found out i was reading too slow. I didn’t even have average reading speed and my reading WPM(Words Per Minute) was too low but after practicing to speed read and doing some speed reading drills, my reading speed has increased a lot. I am still working on it though. Now I want to be reading a new book every forth night so for that i will have to increase my reading speed more. If you could accelerate your reading speed then you can read twice much as fast in half the time or even quicker. Not being able to read books fast enough is one of my serious inefficiency. So I did a reasearch on how to read faster.

How we Read
Here’s how reading works for average readers.
First what happens is the eye sees the word “COW” and then sends a signal down at Larynx and voices the word “COW”
Even if you won’t say it aloud your larynx is still going to produce the word “COW” and from there the signal is going to be transferred to brain which is then gonna come up to the picture of the “COW” and that’s how we read.
The average person reads 125 WPM(Words Per Minute) to 250 WPM(Words Per Mintue).
If you read any higher than this level you are actually reading with not your larynx but with your eyes. So your eyes are taking in words such as “the”, “a”, “its”, “is” and transfer it straight into the brain.

Piles of unread books are more likely due to an unvaried way of reading. You might need to practice skimming.
There is a difference between skimming and speed reading. Skimming means accepting that you won’t comprehend everything. Speed reading means comprehension in less time.

Headline and Title Scanning
If you follow this technique then you can quickly and easily increase reading speed. First thing you need to do while you are assigned a chapter or book to read is to scan the headline and title very quickly. It should only take around 2 to 3 seconds in every page. You will need to go and look over each page and take a snapshot of what’s coming. That way down the road your brain will know where it’s filling the gap. It will help to comprehend the information better. It’s technique that people have used it for a long time and it really works. So you should read headlines and spend 2 to 3 seconds for the whole chapter or section.

Point with Fingers
Second thing to do is take your finger and put it under the words as you read. I know this can be a little bit awkward sometimes but the problem is our brains constantly wants us to go back and re-read things and that just waste time. When time is critical like it is for most of us specially when we have assignments or we have lot of reading to do. We don’t want to waste time so you wanna put your finger underneath and you wanna continually scan the words with your fingers underneath so you don’t go back.

Reading Card (A Paper to Block the Things You’ve Read)
You can practice not jumping back in the text. If you read slowly, your eyes will often go back in the text because you’ve forgotten the beginning of the sentence. You can even increase your speed with a reading card. Reading Card is nothing fancy. It’s just a paper to cover the things you’ve read. You can use any type of paper you have. Place the reading card over the text you’ve read. Improving your rate of reading is hard. Eye fixations don’t change overnight.

Eye Fixation and Peripheral view
To train your reading speed, You should understand reading. When you read you do not spell your way through the text. Your eyes move in jerks. Every jerk is called an eye fixation. In every fixation you read 1-3 words. To train your reading speed you change the way your eyes move through the text.
There are three methods to increase your reading speed.
1) You can work on the width of your fixations.
2) You change the way you see the text.
3) Try to see 2-3 words at a time and use as few fixations per line as possible.
You can practice by drawing vertical lines in the text. Your eyes should only stop by the lines.

 Make sure that you stop only at ..1…2…3..  According to above image your eyes should only stop at “biota” and then at “that” and then at “objects” in the first line. For second line you should only stop at “signaling” “sustaining” and “those”.  Try practicing this for every line. Once your eyes start to stop only at three places you start to get quick at it. Slowly and gradually increase the distance. You can make these lines in your own book with a pencil and scale. Start with a comfortable distance between the lines and gradually make fewer lines to increase your speed. You can also work on where you fix your eyes on a line of the text. If it’s at the beginning of the line, you’ll take in the empty margin. Therefore, fix your eyes further in. Again you can use vertical lines. Place the first and last lines 1cm further in from the margins.

Now lets get into heart of it. The way you are going to read quicker is you don’t want to waste time or you don’t want to waste space on the page. What I mean by that is if your eyes are focused on first word of the line and last word. Well, your eyes are scanning peripherally which means on the edges and your eyes will look in the margins and there’s nothing written on the margins. That’ll just waste space therefore time. So what you wanna do is start focusing on third word in the left and the third word in from the right in the end and it scales there. And you’re gonna do that for each successive lines.

In the picture above you can see the red words. Those red words are in third word from the left and third word from the right. Those red words are the exact point where you should focus. Your not going to focus on the first and last word. Your going to focus on third word from the left and third word from the right which is in red color and going to do that for each line. Now first you want to do this very very slowly. Do not rush and this is not a speed drill. However you are gonna find very quickly that you’ll start reading quicker. Let’s say you read 300 words per minute. Do this technique. Practice it for couple of minutes and then time your self again. And see if you have increased your up to four, five and six hundred words per minute. Just using this valuable technique your eyes are going to scan the third word in from the left and third word in from the right. Do that and your going to get a snap shot or image of what the whole entire line means. Continually do that all the way through. You’ll start to read quicker. Now what the goal is, you want to read in from the fourth word in from the left and from the right. And eventually what’s gonna happen is your brain is going to get a quick snap shot of each line and understand it by visualizing quickly. That’s going to help you blast through the information.

In the Nutshell, you should know that you will benefit from practicing your reading speed if you tend to read so slowly that you lose concentration and cohesion. You need to practice your reading speed by working with the width of your eye fixation like the example above of vertical lines in the text and focusing on third word from left and right. Practice your reading speed by working on where you look on the lines and start reading approx one centimetre into each line. If you find yourself re-reading sentences then consider using reading card to avoid jumping back in the text. If you have piles of unread books then the solution is not speed reading, it’s forming a good reading habit. If you don’t have reading habit then speed reading only will not help you read those unread piles of books. You will have to form a good reading habit as well.

Hope this helps!

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  1. Ya…it did help a lot……actually i hadn’t searched speed reading in the net……… is very good article…..

    • I am still trying to increase my reading WPM(Words Per Minute) even though i have increased more than before.
      I am planning to read more books. So for that i need more reading WPM.

      It would be really cool if we could read 5X times faster than with the speed we’re currently reading on.

      Glad it helped you.

  2. I have heard of the difference between seeing the words directly, and speaking the words, but I really enjoyed your technique of having the three lines going down the page. It makes sense that your peripheral vision can see the words to the left and right, and that you don’t need to look at each individual word to comprehend the words that are on that line. I’m definitely going to use this technique when I’m reading textbooks for school.


    • Thank you, Travis.

      Honestly, I haven’t yet mastered the art of speed reading. These techniques help a lot but I think it takes lots of time to master it.

      But sometimes, I read slow on purpose, to learn how to write better. 🙂

  3. Thanks a lot for the article, I have been practicing speed reading for a while and still not working for me.

    What my problem really was is that I don’t know where is the point of focus in reading chunks of text and the vertical line drill was the solution, this happens when practicing reading on my own.

    Here is a good idea, when reading chunks of text, look little bit above the middle word, this will make it easier to see words on both sides of the word.