What if I told you can start to drastically increase your reading speed with a few steps in less than a half an hour of your time.
Whether you love reading or not, we all do it in some form or another every day, and can all benefit from reading faster.
Everyone wants to read faster and get things done more quickly, but how do you actually do it?
Check out these 10 steps to increase your reading speed and start speed reading today.
- Step 1: Calculate Your Reading Speed
- Step 2: Set Reading Goals
- Step 3: Stop Reading in Your Mind as you Read
- Step 4: Identify and Skim the Main Points of the Content
- Step 5: Group or Make Chunks of Words When you Read
- Step 6: Visualize the Entire Statement at Once
- Step 7: Avoid Re-reading Words
- Step 8: Use Markers and Index Cards
- Step 9: Read as Much as You Can
- Step 10: Work Consciously to Improve Your Vocabulary
1. Calculate Your Reading Speed
When you are trying to improve your reading speed you can start by measuring how fast you actually read. Measuring your speed is easy and will help prove that your efforts are showing results.
The average reading speed is around 300 words per minute which is about the same as the normal speed at which humans speak.
So how do you know that you are able to finish reading a page in record time? You can go to a website dedicated to helping you calculate your reading speed, or you can just figure it out yourself.
Do that by setting up a timer for 1 minute and start reading the normal way you do without rushing through the words.
Be honest with yourself and once the timer goes off just count how many words you read.
For better accuracy, you could do this a few times to get a better idea of where you really at.
If you keep testing your reading speed you will see improvements and that can help motivate you to keep going.
2. Set Reading Goals
Another way of increasing your reading speed is to set reading goals for yourself.
If you are or have been a student, you will already be familiar with setting goals.
Let these goals also be time-bound. This means you can set up a goal of reading a certain amount of pages or maybe a book in a certain amount of time.
You can decide the target period based on your reading requirements and then start reading with a conscious effort to meet those set targets.
For instance, you can set up a target of reading five chapters from a certain book per day.
Now, this may increase or decrease based on the content in the individual chapters but make sure you give yourself a tangible number and reading goal that you have to accomplish no matter what.
It can also be beneficial to set a wpm (words per minute) goal in a certain amount of time. For example, you can make a goal that you want to raise your wpm from 300 to 315.
The rest of the steps in this guide can really help you as you keep raising it higher and higher.
Once you are able to achieve that target, it will not only increase your reading speed, it will also help you achieve your study goals and fill you with a sense of self-satisfaction.
It feels good to have accomplished goals no matter how small they are.
Small goals add up to big improvements in the end.
3. Stop Reading in Your Mind as you Read
From an early age — when we first started learning to read — we were told to read passages and books in our minds while the teacher or the instructor read aloud.
This has made it a habit for almost all of us to read in our minds. This process of doing a monologue in our minds is known as subvocalization.
This is one trait that is extremely common and is a major hindrance to your reading speed.
For obvious reasons. reading the same thing twice, once in the head and once vocally, is going to take time.
This subvocalization of words is necessary as a kid growing up to learn how to read and comprehend what you are reading.
However, as you grow up your brain does not need vocalization of what you read.
Instead, our brain needs less time to frame the words in our mind before we actually read. So you can start learning how to stop subvocalizing, or at least how to do it less often.
You can try doing this by reading while listening to instrumental music or any other thing to distract the mind from subvocalization.
4. Identify and Skim the Main Points of the Content
When it comes to speed reading, and when you are racing against time to meet time-bound targets of reading stuff, the best way to do it is through selective reading.
Selective reading does not mean that you will read some and leave some, it is about choosing what you read first.
It is about skimming the main points and getting the context of the entire text in a chapter or a page first, so that you get the gist of the entire thing before piecing together the rest.
This would involve reading the areas that may be boxed or given in a pointwise manner which is the essence of reading through this technique.
When you skim the main points or contents you might also have to read the diagrams for a better understanding of the concepts because the minute text that you may be skipping will contain a description of the same.
This technique is about using your visual peripherals and distinguishing the most relevant from less and least relevant, reading all of that and putting all of it together.
5. Group or Make Chunks of Words When you Read
When you tend to read the whole sentence word by word you are bound to read slowly.
But if you are able to divide the whole sentence into chunks of words or subparts, it would get easier for you to read the whole thing faster.
The idea is to have a look at the entire sentence and without reading it out loud, just form meaningful chunks of words and read all of it in one go.
There are many speed reading techniques but this is one of the most effective ways of improving your reading speed.
In this technique try reading three words in a glance, then another three and so on right until the end of the page.
You will be amazed to see how fast you were able to finish the entire page. And you will see that you will still be able to process all that you read and comprehend and all that without taking too much time.
To use this technique, draw some vertical parallel lines, and separate the whole text on the page in three different sections.
Start from the top left and read the chunks section wise. This would make it easier for you to read the content in chunks and you would be able to finish reading the page in half of the usual time you need.
You can continue using this method until you are comfortable in speed reading this way. You can try your own speed reading exercises of word chunking provided you get the desired results.
6. Visualize the Entire Statement at Once
To get to the next speed reading level, try reading not one, two, or three words at once but to try to visualize and read the whole sentence at once.
The idea is to use your vision as an input to what you are reading by looking at the center of the line and then scanning and reading the whole line.
Our eyes are extremely powerful organs and they have the power and prowess to capture images of what they see in your minds for a lifetime.
You might have endless things that you might have seen with your eyes that you never forget. In this technique, you will just have to activate and use this amazing power of human eyes while you are reading.
Just try to visualize and capture the image of what you see on the page in your mind and of course the words.
When you have done that, you will see that reading the whole thing at one glance gets easier. And when it is time to reproduce or recall what you did read you will be startled to find that you remember everything.
7. Avoid Re-reading Words
You may not realize this but knowingly or unknowingly you are in the habit of reading and re-reading stuff to get a better understanding of what you read.
It may not be a problem if you are an occasional reader but if reading involves your profession or field of study it may be a big obstacle for you to achieve your targets.
That is because re-reading can be a complete waste of your time.
If you realize on average when you read your eyes will be moving back and forth and your eyes try to backtrack the preceding sentence each time you read.
You are likely doing this without realizing that you are reading the same stuff again and again.
So what should you do to avoid re-reading?
The simplest and perhaps the most childish way to do this is to keep your index finger on the text you are reading.
Keep your fingers on the text and keep running through the portion as you read.
This would ensure that you have read the whole page without repeating parts. Chances are you may not comprehend some of it but that is okay, you will certainly know what you read for the most part of it.
Another way of doing it is to use a pencil instead of the index finger.
Just run the back of the pencil through the entire text while reading. And once you reach the end of the text, you can try to recall what you read and you’ll likely be amazed to see that you remember most of what you read.
8. Use Markers and Index Cards
While you are reading it’s normal for your vision to slip — going back and forth, which can lead you to lose track of what you were reading.
This means you will have to re-read more often and what you have started reading may take an eternity to finish.
This happens more often with people who have issues focusing or have a lot of distractions around them.
You lose track and look away only to start reading from places that you already covered.
So, what can be done to avoid this from happening?
We already talked about using the index finger to keep reading while you are reading at a stretch but when it comes to breaking a reading session or taking breaks and continuing later you must be able to track the portion that you have read and the portion that is remaining.
Use markers to mark the portion you are reading so that you can start from where you left off.
Using markers or index cards will help while you read as well by ensuring that you are reading one line at a time and your vision is not slipping all over the place.
Using these tools will ensure you finish your reading goals faster.
9. Read as Much as You Can
This is a no brainer and it simply means that in order to increase your reading speed you must increase the amount of content that you read.
Reading is the constant nourishment of your brain and it only conditions and trains your brain to read more. When you are in a constant habit of reading, you will see that you will be able to finish huge volumes of books in no time.
This is simple to understand from the fact that you get better at anything the more you do it.
A professional, an artist, a musician are all practicing perfection in what they are doing by repeating it over and over every day.
Some of the fastest readers in the world say that just building your database of knowledge is the best way to read faster.
So, if you wish to increase your reading speed, make sure you are reading almost everything that comes your way.
Keep reading and you will see you are able to read faster.
10. Work Consciously to Improve Your Vocabulary
When you are reading, you try to make sure that you reflect and understand everything that you read.
Often you may come across sentences and words that you find extremely difficult to comprehend.
Then sit down and try to figure out the meaning of such a word or phrase that slows down the entire reading process.
You have the option to skip reading that word or statement or writing it down to look up later.
No matter what you decide to do, not understanding specific words is slowing your reading speed or reducing your understanding of the content.
The solution to this problem is the problem itself.
You have to take this problem head-on until the problem continually lessens.
Read more as previously stated, and make a conscious effort to increase the repository of words in your brain — your vocabulary.
Your reading speed may initially slow as you spend time looking up words, however, the more words you add to your vocabulary, the faster you read.
Think of it as an investment that increases your reading speed.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that increasing your reading speed is not impossible and can be accomplished by following rather simple speed reading techniques.
If you really want to increase your reading speed just follow these steps and keep at it.
This is a skill that we use every day and is definitely worth trying to get better at.
Every single one of your skills improves with time and effort!