10 Easy to Learn Speed Reading Techniques and Tips

by Marie

Discover how you can apply some simple techniques on speed reading in order to read faster and make a more effective use of your time. 10 different tips to help you get faster.

One of the most rewarding seminars I ever attended was a one-day seminar packed with tips and practical apply now advice on highly effective study techniques.

During this all-day event, I was shown the basics on how to speed read as well as other great study and research strategies which also included mind mapping. I'm sharing those tips here with you in addition to other strategies that I've picked up in the years since this occasion.

Speed Reading Tips and Techniques - Learn to Read Faster
Speed Reading Tips and Techniques - Learn to Read Faster
Image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay and has been altered by the author

After the seminar was over, I reviewed my notes and started to practice the easy procedures that had been demonstrated. My reading really took off and I went from being slow and steady to being able to read through large amounts of text quickly while still retaining the information. So just because I was faster didn't mean that I was missing anything out. If anything, the techniques I'd been taught actually made me retain more and understand all the key points too.

Being able to read text quickly has helped me immensely with research for exams, essays, dissertations, University work and also my work as an online article writer. It means that I'm making a really effective use of the limited time that I have available. Now I'm hoping to pass on and share my tips freely with you.

Read through Books, Papers and Articles Quicker Without Compromising What You are Learning

Doing research, whether for work or education, often involves wading through lots of books or articles to find the specific information that you need. Being able to increase your reading speed means that you can get through this process much faster and then have time left over for more important things. By using the easy and practical speed reading techniques below, you can raise your average reading speed (generally between 200-250 words a minute) to double so you're actually taking in over 500 words a minute instead - and all without losing the sense or meaning of the text. 

How fast you can potentially read is down to a number of factors which may include how well you know a particular subject to start with, how challenging you find the textual information and how well you need to process and understand it. Work through my personal tips below so you can start to increase your reading rate and benefit from it too.

10 Ways to Improve How Fast You Can Read

TIP 1) Improve your reading environment. Take a good look at your normal reading location. Where you normally read may not be the best or most ideal environment for you to work in. There are lots of factors to think about and to consider including ensuring that the lighting levels are bright enough so you're not straining your eyes and keeping distractions like background noise to a minimum so you can really concentrate and focus. 

Even sitting in the right place can be crucial since sitting on a bed or in an overly comfortable seat can result in a loss of concentration and you may even end up nodding off to sleep instead. You definitely don't want to be too cold but being overly warm can also encourage sleep rather than work. A space which has some fresh air to help to keep you focused and more of a work environment rather than a recreational one can actually make big improvements with how well you read.

TIP 2) Plan out what you want to know before you start. What is the purpose of your reading material and what is it that you are hoping to learn from it? Do you just need a very quick overview or summary of the text or do you need some really solid and detailed facts? If you know exactly what you want out of your reading session before you start, you are more likely to apply the appropriate technique which will make the process much more efficient.

TIP 3) Learn how to scan the text to find the information you need. Very often research requires finding specific pieces of information. You can do this by using a scanning technique along with a printed book or article or with an e-book reader such as a Kindle or even a tablet device.

First focus on what it is that you need to find then use a finger, running or hovering it down the middle of each page from top to bottom. Your eyes need to follow the movement of your finger from top to bottom as they search for the required information. Your finger should merely act as a visual guide to picking out words that are related to what you're seeking. As soon as you spot something related to what you need to know, slow down and read further in this area.

Read faster to discover more. Increase your rate of knowledge by learning to speed read.
Read faster to discover more. Increase your rate of knowledge by learning to speed read.
Image is in the Public Domain from Pixabay and has been altered by the author

TIP 4) Read the first sentence to find what you need, fast. A procedure that may serve you better is to simply read the first sentence of every paragraph or chunk of text. Normally that first sentence should give you a good idea of what the rest of the paragraph promises to hold. It will contain key words and phrases that can help you to decide whether you need to actually read that particular part or miss it out and move swiftly on to the next. I often employ this particular tip when reading through articles and factual books.

TIP 5) Train your eyes to move across text more efficiently. This is a tip that can really make the main difference between someone who reads well and someone who doesn't. We are often taught to read just one word at a time. No matter how quickly you can read this way, it will never be as fast or efficient as someone who can take in whole sentences and more in a single glance.

As I have discovered since attending that seminar, reading word by word is a very poor and slow way to read and especially when it comes to factual information that you need to learn or sift through. People who have learned to speed read can read in blocks or chunks which means that their eyes are trained to see many words in each rapid eye movement. This chunking technique (which I will explain more in the next tip) vastly reduces the work that your eyes need to accomplish.

TIP 6) How to read more proficiently in chunks. Instead of moving your eyes one word at a time over the page, you will train yourself to gradually read in bigger blocks or chunks of text. This technique requires practice and perseverance. I was introduced to the concept at the seminar I attended but I worked hard at training my eyes to use this technique which has payed dividends over the years. Now I can comfortably read short sentences where before I'd have read just one word in the same space of time. 

Start by holding or placing your reading material just a little further from your eyes than you would normally have it. Now focus your eyes on the first two words, then shift your focus to the next two words in the sentence. Practice reading every two words across the page where possible until you're completely happy reading this way. 

The next step is to gradually increase the number of words that you can read with a single eye glance or movement. So work on taking in 3 words at a time, then 4, then 5 etc. It may seem like an impossible technique to learn at first but I can assure you that it is not. There are people who are able to read whole paragraphs in one glance with ease. 

TIP 7) You may read better with a visual guide or aids. If you struggle with the chunking technique, you might find it easier if you use a visual guide or aid. This guide could just be your finger, the end of a pencil, a stylus tip or a piece of card. Place your chosen guide under the central part of each block of words that you want to read. Move the guide under the middle of each block which encourages your eyes to follow the same method. 

TIP 8) Reduce the time it takes to read each chunk of words. When you are training your eyes to employ the new technique of reading, you might want to use a slower pace until you get used to the process and comfortable with it. But the ultimate aim is to read faster so you also need to train your eyes to spend less time focusing on each block of words. 

Using a visual guide can be of real benefit in speeding up your reading this way. First move the guide normally underneath the central point of each block of words. Then deliberately start to increase the speed at which you do this which trains your eyes to move through the text at a faster pace.

TIP 9) Remember and retain the information you read. Speed reading is only efficient if you can remember what it is you've read - at least long enough for it to be of any use to you. If you're not focused or your mind is on something else then you may not be taking anything in. This goes back to reading in the right location and also using a visual guide to help you to focus more. Having to re-read sections because you didn't take in the message is not an effective use of your time.

TIP 10) Try not to read from a bright computer screen. Reading from a computer screen is not the most efficient or ideal way to read because it can cause eye strain and fatigue. If you have to read this way, try adjusting the brightness of the screen so that it isn't overly bright for your eyes and move your chair or the screen so that there is a big enough distance to employ the chunking technique.

With a device such as a tablet, you can dim the screen until it is at a comfortable brightness and most reading applications allow you to increase the size of the text until it is suitably sized for your reading. I hope you've enjoyed reading my wizzles page today, thanks for your visit. An e-ink reading device like a paperwhite Kindle is better for you to read on than a backlit screen. But, often, the best options are really still plain old printed books or articles printed out onto paper.

How to Employ the Chunking Technique

Why do you want to Speed Read?

What is your main reason for wanting to be able to read faster?
Updated: 10/06/2017, Marie
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