Speed reading is something I mastered at a young age. I used to despise reading. In fact, when I was given the assignment to read, I would try to get through it as quick as humanly possible. As I got older, I became even faster. I am often asked how I am able to do it. Here are five real ways to improve your speed when you read.

Skimming

This is a technique where you skim a paragraph or a page looking for clues as to what happened or any main ideas. This is a technique I use sometimes where I looked for words that might play a key role in the plot. I tend to not skim any dialogue as those are some of the most important parts. Normally, you can begin the skimming process by reading the back of the book which will give you a good idea of what keywords to look for. Then, you can start each page or paragraph by reading the first sentence and skimming from there on. However, skimming lowers reading comprehension. Keep that in mind.

Do not re-read the same paragraph if you don’t catch it the first time

Finding yourself confused if you feel like you’ve read too quickly or just flat out couldn’t comprehend something? Keep going. Books are often written in such a way that you will figure out what happened or what you missed simply by continuing to read. Do not fret or get frustrated. Keep going and see if you can figure it out without going backwards.

Meta guiding

This is a technique that children often use. It is a technique I love when it comes to word heavy pages in books that I can’t skim (i.e., nonfiction). Meta guiding is when you use a tool such as a finger, pencil, or a pointer, along the length of the text so that your eyes may follow along at a faster pace than normal. It helps block out the extra letters all around. This technique increases your focus on those lines instead of reading ahead. Doing so allows your brain to keep up and move quickly. 

Stop sub-vocalizing

Sometimes when you read, you are hearing the words in your head as you read. Doing this slows down your reading speed by about 400 words per minute. This is a hard habit to break, but it is possible. If you can read closed captions on your television quickly, you should be able to stop sub-vocalizing in no time. Practice makes perfect. 

Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP)

This is a fairly modern technique that trains your brain to focus on single words at a time and you get to decide the speed of the changing of words. Single words will pop up on a screen and once you realize what the word is and what it means, you move on to the next word. This can train your brain to immediately recognize words without sub-vocalizing. There are a lot of online places to test your RSVP skills.

Practice makes perfect and it is okay to not read extremely fast. In fact, I would encourage taking your time reading instead of stressing yourself about how quickly you read. Reading comprehension is so much more important than your speed. Reading is meant to be relaxing. Don’t make it a chore. 

Happy reading, fellow book nerds.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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