How to teach yourself speed-reading

What is speed reading?

Being able to absorb more information in less time is a necessary skill for everyone who wants to be at the same pace with the changing world that we live in. So let's begin our journey with a simple definition of speed reading. And it's not a useless talent to teach yourself speed-reading.

Speed reading is a set of techniques that include minimizing subvocalization and chunking text to increase one's ability to read faster. Let's discuss subvocalization and chunking first.

The average read-speed ratio
The average read-speed ratio
What is subvocalization?

Have you ever read something and you heard your inner voice simultaneously reading to you silently in your head? That is what we call subvocalization and slows you very much while you are reading

Now let's talk about chunking text and how it can impact how quickly you can read something. Chunking is a process of making something separate together in a group, so while reading most of people read words individually and that is what causes them to slow down their reading speed. With chunking, you can read 3 words simultaneously and you can minimize your time reading. Knowing this will help the process it takes to teach yourself speed-reading.

On average a human being can read about 200-300 words per minute with normal reading speed. With speed reading techniques on average, you can read 400-500 words per minute without damaging your retention and comprehension. So a simple definition of speed reading would be techniques that help you increase your words-per-minute reading speed.

Reducing subvocalization is crucial to teach yourself speed-reading
Reducing subvocalization is crucial to teach yourself speed-reading

Will speed reading affect my retention and comprehension?


The simple answer to that would be no but it depends, so let's discuss why you should not fear losing retention and comprehension with speed reading. Have you ever read a page and you didn't understand anything that you just read? It happens to all of us because our brain will understand text holistically not word per word so with speed reading you will not read word per word but you will be able to read a chunk of text and extract the meaning from that which will really help you understand more and get the meaning from the text you're reading. Having said that we can easily say that speed reading will help you retain more information and will increase your comprehension.

What if I’m reading technical textbooks?

Most of the people who want to learn to speed read are actually students who want to minimize the time that they spend reading textbooks. Whether you´re reading novels, fiction or technical books speed reading will help you a lot minimize time spent reading however if you´re reading technical books you will need to understand something really important. First of all, take a paper and write all the words you don´t understand and try to get the meaning of those words. When you understand those technical words you can read faster because you don't have any unfamiliar words on the text. So technical reading is no different from other types of reading the only difference is you need to become familiar with unknown words first.

Now, how to teach yourself speed-reading?

Average reading speed and memory capacity.
Average reading speed and memory capacity.

Techniques that increase your reading speed 
  1. Okay now that we know what speed reading is, let's begin our adventure of speed reading with these techniques.
  2. Minimize subvocalization -While reading try to  chew a gum this will decrease your inner voice 
  3. Use your peripheral vision to read and see more broadly on the page 
  4. Chunk text  read a group of words not individually preferably 3 words at the same time
  5. Use a pacer to focus your attention preferably a pen
  6. Use a timer to measure your reading speed 
  7. Set a goal -it can help be more focused for example saying I'm going to read 3 pages for 3 minutes will help you be more focused.
  8. Stop re-reading what you just read instead read for meaning, not for a single word. 
  9. Start speed reading now with this guide

Finally, we came to the most interesting part: we will practice speed reading.

  1. First of all, go and take a book that you´re familiar with  for example a book that you know is not very technical 
  2. Read as you would normally read for comprehension without forcing yourself to read faster or slower.
  3. Set a timer and read for one minute.
  4. When you finish reading count the words you read for one minute that's your average per minute. 
  5. Now that you know your average start reading for a minute again the same page but now we will do it differently.
  6. Prepare to read again 
  7. Now try to read 3 words simultaneously, so to make it easy to start reading from the third 3-rd word on each line.
  8. When you start reading 3 words simultaneously you will unconsciously  decrease your subvocalization  
  9. Now its time to start your timer and begin to read 
  10. When you finish counting the words you read per one minute 
  11. Everyone is different but with this exercise, you should have increased your reading speed for about 50 % 


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