Learn How To Speed Read – A Tutorial Teaching 6 Speed Reading Techniques
Reading is a universal activity and certainly one of the most important skills to gain new knowledge or access information. So, how can we organize this process most effectively and efficiently? This is where speed reading comes into play, and the good news is anyone can learn how to speed read. It’s a powerful asset to expand your knowledge, enhance your learning experience or boost your career.
This tutorial will show you how to comprehend better while reading faster. You may easily enhance your skills by understanding the powerful combination of speed reading techniques available. An infographic at the end of this post will also summarize some of these core concepts.
Explore three major approaches to get started:
- Traditional offline methods (local classes, books or self-teaching)
- Online Courses (guided)
- Desktop software (guided)
Try it out: This tutorial will encourage you to teach yourself how to speed read. Each chapter will offer additional reading resources that will cover speed reading techniques in more detail.
1. Hand Pacing Technique
Hand pacing is a simple and quick reading improvement technique allowing you to read faster while maintaining a steady level of apprehension. Have you ever heard of the pointer method? Most of us learned it during our school days but for some reason, we stopped using this technique as we grew up.
The pointer method was developed by the creator of speed reading, Evelyn Wood. It involves moving the index finger or a pointer across the page and below the sentence you are going to read. This will sharpen your overall focus and speed. Pacing yourself is the quickest way to learn how to speed read.
2. Scanning and Previewing
Scanning and previewing techniques enhance your skill to quickly capture the central idea of what you plan to read. These techniques will teach you to scan for numbers, names and trigger words.
With practice, you will up your speed to identify key sentences in a paragraph. Expert speed readers are able to skim and comprehend a whole page within seconds.
When using this technique, make sure to look for items such as lists, points, graphs, indexes and subheadings. Identify these key items before getting into detail.
3. Reading Chunks of Words
Reading groups of words are one of the key skills to gain when learning how to speed read. It is also one of the most time-consuming speed reading techniques to learn.
As the name suggests, the technique involves reading chunks of words rather than individual words. The goal is to reduce the number of “stops” your eyes perform as you read. Once you start taking chunks of words, your comprehension rate and with that your quick reading abilities will improve a great deal.
To get started read this article on reading chunks of words. It provides essential tips and materials. Well, the three speed reading techniques discussed above are meant to pace you up. In the next chapter, we will look at some techniques to boost your apprehension and recalling abilities.
4. How To Improve Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension is the capability to read a text, process it and apprehend it. This may sound simple, but it is actually not. Understanding can be a difficult concept. The brain processes new knowledge with full cognizance of the existing cognitive structure.
This means that the new knowledge must be related to other knowledge that is already stored in the brain. The way you comprehend (or understand) what you read will depend upon the association made with the knowledge structure you already have.
Why is it important?
There is no point to read fast if you cannot apprehend the meaning of the text or if you cannot ingrain new information into existing memory structures. However, there is much that you can do to develop your comprehension rate and it will benefit you while learning how to speed read.
How to speed read and boost apprehension?
✓ Improve your vocabulary. To understand what we read, we need to know the meaning of the words used. However, so many words have many meanings that depend upon the context within which they are used. Improving your vocabulary, therefore, does entail memorizing new words and studying the different contexts within which those words can be used to convey different meanings.
✓ Visualization & memory techniques. Human comprehension depends upon the ability to visualize and memorize. If you master techniques such as brain maps or building a memory palace you will be much better able to visualize and memorize new information and you will most certainly enhance your apprehension in the process. Apart from a better understanding, you will also be able to recall information more reliable.
✓ Take notes and summarize. When you take notes you are forcing yourself to interpret what you read. If you find it very difficult to summarize text into short notes you know that you have not fully grasped the text. It is best to summarize only once you have (speed) read a logical section of text that deals with a specific concept.
✓ Keep the subject matter in mind. If you keep the author’s or a chapter’s main subject in mind when you read, you will find it much easier to understand the true meaning of specific words or phrases. For example, if you read a book about machine learning, using the term “elegant” will refer to a sophisticated programming technique, not to a well-dressed person.
✓ Preview the text. Because comprehension depends a lot on your ability to understand the meaning of words and phrases within their context, you may benefit from skimming the text before you actually start to read. This speed reading technique has been discussed above and will help you to understand the author’s main idea quickly.
✓ Ask yourself questions. After previewing, jot down the main questions you want to find an answer to. When you read, frequently questions relating to the text you have read. This will help you organize your thinking and verbalize the meaning you derived from the text. You will find it much easier to relate your new knowledge to existing memory structures.
5. Reverse Bad Reading Habits
To increase the effectiveness of your reading, be aware that certain habits can reduce efficiency. Many develop those bad reading habits as a child during school.
Subvocalization (saying the words in your head) and regression (stepping back in text) are the most common ones. They will often slow you down and have an adverse impact on your apprehension and text processing ability.
You may also face problems when reading in an unsuitable environment with poor light or loud sounds or when you are just tired. However, you can easily manage these issues if you are willing to set up the right conditions for your reading or studying.
Just a few tips to tackle bad habits
- Try to tackle habits individually in order to reduce or eliminate them.
- Skim and scan before you read. Use linear and cross-shaped hand pacing patterns.
- While scanning, look for unfamiliar words and deliberately subvocalize them.
- This will help reduce the temptation to subvocalize them later.
- Count numbers, sum a melody or chew gum to reduce subvocalization.
- Resist going back in text. You will not miss important facts.
- Discipline your eyes. Train them to read smoothly from left to right.
In the previous paragraphs, we covered essential speed reading techniques you can try on your own. In the next ones, we will discuss some popular software to assist you further.
6. Learn How To Speed Read – Tools
You can either use the software, enroll in an online course or attend a live class to learn how to speed read. This can be a very effective approach as those courses focus on advanced speed reading techniques and scientific methods to help you eliminate bad habits and offer efficient speed reading exercises and tests.
Below are four popular resources that are helpful and effective by many students worldwide. However, these are just two recommendations, and we encourage you to do your research before enrolling in a class of your choice.
Iris Reading is one of the most recognized institutions to learn how to read faster. You may book a live class in many cities in the U.S. and Canada. Iris also offers in-person classes in the U.K., India, China, Brazil, Russia or Singapore. Alternatively, you may enroll yourself in one of their online video courses.
Spreeder (7-Speed-Reading) refers to scientific learning techniques teaching you how to speed read effectively. The strategies are particularly designed to facilitate the natural learning curve of students, adult learners and professionals. Most users, therefore, review the program as effective, interactive and fun.
A great value is the in-depth video training featuring six globally recognized experts. The topics range from memory improvement to handling workload more efficiently to advanced quick reading techniques. The tool also comes with a built-in speed eReader.
Become a SuperLearner
Become a SuperLearner will not only increase your reading speed but also to boost your memory capabilities. The goal is to combine speed with improved abilities in memory, recalling, retention and apprehension.
SuperLearner is instructed by recognized teachers who themselves have extensive experience in the art of learning and memory improvements. Students will learn to memorize and recall large amounts of information.
Eye-Hop™ by Alchemy Training Unlimited
This is a (free) resource to practice word-group-reading either online or offline in a physical format. This tool will help develop your comprehension and overall focus as you will learn to read multiple words at once. It will assist you in becoming faster and focused.
For material please visit Ron Cole’s website. It offers four PDF files for download. Each PDF includes instructions, found at the end of the file. A tool allows you to also generate sheets with your own speed reading exercises there.
Read Faster – Complimentary Tips
1. Apply what you read
You may know how to speed read and consume many books a year. That is good. However, you will need to ingrain all those information delivered through books into your daily life. Otherwise, it becomes useless knowledge.
Take action – Books are tools, and tools are meant to improve a skill. Use skimming and scanning and other approaches to speed read a book in order to extract the core information and immediately apply those insights to your projects, ideas, habits or activities.
Review your actions – Use books to take your notes and come back for brief reviews. Apply regular feedback reviews to evaluate whether you have implemented a new skill or forgotten about it again. Keep practicing, and they turn books into action.
2. Consider a quick reading speed test
There are many online tests available and it can be very beneficial to do one before you actually start learning how to speed read. Below are the steps to rather do a manual test.
A manual test is very simple; just grab a book and a stopwatch. Start reading a paragraph and time yourself. You can follow these steps for a quick and easy result:
- Select a book of your choice.
- Choose a paragraph to read.
- Time yourself. Monitor how long it takes to read a complete paragraph.
- Count the words you have just read.
- Consider the time and words as a benchmark you can improve.
- Try to build your speed continuously. Remember to quantify your performance.
Always start at a normal speed as rushing will decrease accuracy. You may choose paragraphs on different pages to achieve a precise time measurement. You can use the results as a measure of performance and boost your speed while trying different practices.
3. Relax and train your eye muscles
Being able to speed read can be compared with physical training in a metaphorical way. Like athletes who develop physical skills to use in their sport, the speed reader needs their eye muscles to be in good condition. Just as with other muscles, the eye muscles also need care and training, which will benefit the reader in many ways.
Eyes can get exhausted very quickly, and this makes reading a challenge. A good technique is to give your eyes a rest between training or quick reading sessions. Do not strain the muscles too much because with the training, you will develop your muscles eventually.
How to Speed Read – Last but not Least
This blog post by Tim Ferris packs the whole “reading-improvement” topic into a 10-minute program, which I personally find really insightful.
Have you got any suggestions about how to speed read? I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to share further speed reading techniques in the comments. Below is also an infographic with useful tips, and some FAQ questions summarizing key insights. Thanks a lot for reading.
Click the “Share” buttons below to add the infographic to your Pinterest board.
FAQ Questions and Answers – How To Speed Read
How to speed read? Quick Tips
- Preview and skim material. Set a reading goal.
- Ask questions Who, Where, What, When, Why and How.
- Use your finger, a pen or a mouse as a pacing tool.
- Read chunks of words. Start with 2-3 phrases then move up.
- Improve vocabulary to identify words faster.
- Improve memory skills to better remember and recall information.
- Get rid of limiting reading habits.
What is speed reading techniques?
It is a powerful asset of effective techniques to boost speed, develop better comprehension, reduce regression or preview material such as books, articles and documents quickly. The most common speed reading techniques include hand pacing, previewing and chunking.
What is the meaning of subvocalization?
Do you pronounce or subvocalize the words when you read them? Subvocalization is recognized as a bad reading habit as it will slow down readers. When learning to speed read, the goal is to eliminate subvocalization and rather visualize information.
How fast is speed reading?
To speed read material is processing written material significantly faster than the average reader. There is no specific minimum speed. However, a minimum of 350-400WPM (words per minute) is considered to be reasonable. A well-structured training program can increase average reading speeds up to 600wpm while keeping comprehension at 80-90%.
How can I increase my reading speed and comprehension?
- Improve your vocabulary. Learn common prefixes and suffixes.
- Apply visualization & memory techniques.
- Take notes and summarize. Create mind maps.
- Keep the subject matter in mind.
- Preview the text and get the author’s main idea.
- Ask relevant questions before you read.
Should I read more to read faster?
Yes, practicing is key, and you will certainly level up the more you apply the techniques to speed read. There’s an ocean of information available to you, and more are added every day. The more you read, the more you know – the more you know, the more successful you can become.
Is knowing how to speed read an essential 21st-century skill?
Self-education and self-development have proven to be two efficient methods for improving your success potential. No one was born with fully-developed qualifications; these are acquired through training. Knowing how to speed read is one such skill. By mastering this skill, you can see your knowledge database exponentially increase. Read a lot and your chances of succeeding professionally, personally, socially, and financially will instantly increase.
How to keep up concentration when I speed read?
Consequently, minimize distractions and reduce those activities that may cause disturbance or take your focus away from reading.
- Read without distraction. Turn off television, radio, email and your cell phone.
- Read while sitting in a proper posture, ideally on a chair with your feet touching the ground.
- Take breaks, i.e. speed read in 50-minute chunks with a 10-minute break in between.
Do fast readers use both sides of the brain?
Yes, the left and the right side of the brain are being used simultaneously. The left side controls numerous things including scientific ability, number skills and spoken languages. The right side controls things like creativity, visualization, memorization and imagination. People who know how to use both sides of their brain can simultaneously develop incredible reading speeds and retain information more efficiently.
4 Mind mapping principles to use with quick reading systems
- Summarize the main idea into one central image.
- Add important topics to that central idea using branches.
- Use 3-5 twigs to further diversify the topic.
- Branches and twigs form a visual structure to review key information.
Resources: Evelyn Wood – Wikipedia
Please share this tutorial. If you have further tips about how to speed read effectively, please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Studies have shown that reading speed does increase with practice, and skimming can be a useful tool when you're trying to glean information quickly. But other scientific studies have even shown that, depending on your goals for speed reading, the process actually doesn't work very well.Do speed reading techniques work? ›
Studies have shown that reading speed does increase with practice, and skimming can be a useful tool when you're trying to glean information quickly. But other scientific studies have even shown that, depending on your goals for speed reading, the process actually doesn't work very well.How long does it take to read 100 pages? ›
This average was calculated by comparing the speed of normal literate people who can read and understand text at a normal speed. Using simple math, taking into account the average number of words on a page, we can quickly reach the conclusion that the average time to read 100 pages is roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes.How can I study fast without forgetting? ›
- Try to understand the information first. Information that is organized and makes sense to you is easier to memorize. ...
- Link it. ...
- Sleep on it. ...
- Self-test. ...
- Use distributed practice. ...
- Write it out. ...
- Create meaningful groups. ...
- Use mnemonics.
- Reading is not studying. Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. ...
- Understand the Study Cycle. ...
- Spacing out is good. ...
- It's good to be intense. ...
- Silence isn't golden. ...
- Problems are your friend. ...
- Reconsider multitasking. ...
- Switch up your setting.
Excellent speed reading involves practice and retraining yourself, as well as learning to focus more on what is in front of you and avoiding distractions. But it is important to strike the right balance between speed and comprehension: sometimes speed reading is not appropriate or helpful.Is speed reading just skimming? ›
Skimming is a method of reading whereby you read through a text quickly, without stopping to read every word. But speed reading requires you to read through a text at a faster pace than normal. Skimming is faster than speed reading because you don't have to read every word.Why can't I read as fast as I used to? ›
Subvocalization is by far the most common factor in slowing down our reading. It's how most of us read – by “speaking” the words in our heads. This slows down our reading to speaking speed, which is usually around 300 words a minute.How fast can Bill Gates read? ›
It's speculated that Bill Gates reads at a speed of approximately 750 wpm, which allows him to go through 150 pages in an hour.Is reading 50 pages a day good? ›
Reading should be fun and enjoyable and each book you read should impact you and develop your perspective. By reading 50-pages a day you develop a consistent reading habit that will help you to not only finish more books but also develop your reading abilities.
Most people can finish reading 20 pages within 30 minutes. And if you do it first thing in the morning, then the urgencies of the day don't get in the way. Finally, 20 pages seems small but adds up fast. It's a great average speed.How long does it take to get good at speed reading? ›
Depending on how much effort you put, you can double your reading speed in an hour or 2 to 4 weeks. However, you will have to increase your rate of comprehension as well. The time required to double your reading speed depends upon the amount of practice you do.How to speed read like teddy roosevelt? ›
In a letter to his son Kermit about the best way to read Dickens, Roosevelt said: “The wise thing to do is simply to skip the bosh and twaddle and vulgarity and untruth, and get the benefit out of the rest.” We can follow that advice for most things we read. Not every word is important when conveying an idea.How do I stop inner monologue when reading? ›
- Using your finger as a pointer while reading;
- Listening to relaxing music;
- Occupying your mouth with gum or hard candy;
- Upping your reading speed over 300 wpm;
- Distracting yourself by counting or impersonating another voice;
- Using Speechify text-to-speech app.
- Eat right.
- Drink water.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Take Omega-3.
- Learn a new skill.
This is the tendency to forget facts or events over time. You are most likely to forget information soon after you learn it. However, memory has a use-it-or-lose-it quality: memories that are called up and used frequently are least likely to be forgotten.
- Plan a study timetable. Feel assured you will cover your material in time with a realistic study timetable. ...
- Prepare your study area. ...
- Keep healthy: eat, sleep and move. ...
- Minimise distractions and overcome procrastination. ...
- Take breaks for your wellbeing.
- Build your memory and learning capacity. ...
- Focus on one study task at a time. ...
- Learn how to take effective notes. ...
- Take regular breaks. ...
- Break down big study tasks into smaller tasks. ...
- Repeat what you've learned to someone else. ...
- Test yourself regularly.
- Learning quickly gives you a great competitive edge for personal and professional development. ...
- Teach others (or just pretend)
- Make breaks. ...
- Take notes by hand.
- Don't be afraid to take a nap!
- Use different study methods.
Processing speed deficits affect reading efficiency, even among individuals who recognize and decode words accurately. Children with ADHD who decode words accurately can still have inefficient reading fluency, leading to a bottleneck in other cognitive processes.
Speed reading may decrease comprehension levels since it limits semantic processing. You must pay particular attention to the content of the text even while reading. Text speed reading refers to the rate at which your eyes move over text. Even the fastest speed readers only read as fast as their eyes can move.Is speed reading a talent? ›
Speed reading is a skill that lets you drastically increase your words-per-minute rate and improve or maintain your comprehension level, something that will help you manage your work and your time.What should you avoid when speed reading? ›
- Mistake #1: Reading Everything at the Same Speed.
- Mistake #2: Going Back to Re-Read When You Don't Have To.
- Mistake #3: Poor Concentration.
Some forms of what we call “speed reading” are actually skimming -- the reader saves time by not reading every word on the page. And skimming might be useful, in some cases. If you're pressed for time, it might be preferable to skim the entire text rather than to read linearly through just part of it.Can you read without saying the words in your head? ›
You don't need to say every word in your head to be able to understand what you are reading. When you were younger, it was absolutely necessary to say each and every single word, but now you can extract the meaning of words by simply seeing them.Why do I forget what I read as soon as I read it? ›
After reading, you may find it almost impossible to retain the information acquired. It may be due to lack of adequate sleep and rest, distractions while reading, poor nutrition, failure to choose the right book, or memory issues such as decay or shallow processing.Why am I such a slow reader even though I read a lot? ›
The leading causes of slow reading
Many people are slow readers because they can't seem to focus on what they're reading. This often happens if you're exposed to noise or other external factors while trying to read. Poor concentration is also related to daydreaming or worrying about problems.
Numerous studies have shown that ageing also affects language processing. Even neurologically healthy people speak, retrieve words and read more slowly as they get older.How does Obama read so many books? ›
Buffett spends 80% of his day reading
They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.” Supposedly, in the early days of Buffett's investment career, he would read 600-1000 pages in a single day.
The average IQ varies from country to country, with the US standing at 98. Anything above 130 is high. Here are some of the glimpses of genius that attest to Bill Gates' high IQ, even to the point of being a 160 score.Who reads 500 pages a day? ›
In response to a question about how to prepare for an investing career, Buffett told the students, “Read 500 pages like this every day,” while reaching toward a stack of manuals and papers.How much reading a day is enough? ›
However, numerous studies have defined that 15-30 minutes is a minimum interval we should dedicate to reading each day. Neuroscientists agree that even simple lifestyle changes, like daily 15 minutes with a nose in a book, will support your brain health for a lifetime.Is reading 20 pages a day a lot? ›
Read to Expand Knowledge
First and foremost, reading 20 pages has allowed me to widen horizons and expand general knowledge. Now, reading 20 pages a day is no trivial task. As the average length of a book is around 250–300 pages, that means you'll be finishing a book every 2 weeks or so.
“The corresponding rate for poor readers at this level is 50 to 70 words per minute. According to one group of scholars, this rate is “so slow as to interfere with comprehension even of easy material, and is certainly unlikely to leave much ...How many pages does Elon Musk read a day? ›
How many books does Elon Musk read a day? Elon Musk used to read two books a day, according to his brother. He probably reads much less now since SpaceX and other projects take up most of his time.How many pages does Bill Gates read a day? ›
Gates won't begin reading a book that he won't finish. According to his wife Melinda, Bill reads approximately 150 pages per hour, a staggering speed, especially given that he takes in and understands the vast majority of what he reads (his comprehension level is off the charts).How can I read faster two tricks? ›
- Skim or scan the text first. ...
- Stop subvocalizing. ...
- Read phrases, not words. ...
- Quit Re-reading. ...
- Read more.
Are there any tricks for remembering answers very quickly? Break the answer into parts, each consisting of one sentence. Learn one sentence. Cover the page and recite the sentence.How can I study a lot of content in a short time? ›
- Never Cram. There is no such thing as an effective cramming. ...
- Manage your time. Why do you cram? ...
- Practice Interlinking Ideas. Impossible you say? ...
- Make Diagrams. ...
- Set up your own Mnemonics. ...
- Learn to Visualize. ...
- Retell the Story. ...
- Take notes.
- Learning quickly gives you a great competitive edge for personal and professional development. ...
- Teach others (or just pretend)
- Make breaks. ...
- Take notes by hand.
- Don't be afraid to take a nap!
- Use different study methods.