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Speed reading

Unleash your full potential with the power of speed reading

The hustle of modern society barely leaves time to read for work or leisure so it seems impossible to plow through the volumes achieved by speed-readers. Some experienced speed-readers tackle several hundred pages in less than one hour.

Imagine the possibilities if you could not only read quickly, but also retain the information for later use. This leaf offers helpful speed reading techniques that allow you to take in more of your course material, revise more effectively and unleash your full potential.  

Origins of “Natural” Speed-Readers

How fast you read as an adult is determined at childhood

Contrary to popular opinion, a slow reading speed has nothing to do with inferior intellect or weak eyes. Adult reading speeds develop from early childhood literacy techniques. How you learned to read as a child has everything to do with how fast you read as an adult. Reading aloud exercises the tongue and ear instead of strengthening the eyes and brain. This simple act hampers our ability to read at a faster rate.

Studies determine that traditional reading techniques, where words are spoken and read, average approximately 200 to 250 words per minute with a comprehension rate ranging from 50 to 70 percent. This means we only absorb half of spoken words from a relatively low word count. Scientists determined the human brain could read approximately 90,000 words under the right conditions. Plowing through encyclopedias or a large Russian novel becomes a lot easier once you master speed-reading techniques.

Setting the Stage

...or some tips for beginners

It is time to explore how to expand your reading and comprehension skills. After all, we already bogged you down with scientific data and tons of random numbers. The following advice proves highly useful in literacy improvement. Research proves that effective speed-reading is a combination of environmental and physiological variables.

  • Read earlier in the day with a refreshed body and mind to understand the material better. When you read affects information retention rates.
  • Create an effective reading area. Seat yourself at a desk instead of lounging on soft surfaces like a bed or sofa. Place books at a 45-degree angle to minimize eyestrain. 
  • After tackling external variables, heed exactly how you approach desired materials.
  • Categorize materials based on their order of importance. Tackle important items in the beginning when you feel most energized.
  • Scan the material first to get an overview of the subject matter. This allows you to focus solely on important parts during the full read.    
  • Read the table of contents along with the beginning and end of each paragraph to find the most relevant information.
  • Ask yourself questions - and search for the answers- while you read to retain more information.
  • Make notations AFTER you read to reinforce newly acquired knowledge. Bullet point lists are extremely effective. Avoid using highlighters while reading as this effects retention levels.
  • Switch up your reading speeds. Save the lightening speeds for magazines and newspapers. Complex materials like mathematics and legal documents require slightly slower reading speeds.

Helpful exercises

For increasing your reading speed

Speed reading classes offer invaluable techniques that increase reading and comprehension skills. Class-based exercises help students unlock their hidden potential. While you compare local classes, try some of the following helpful techniques.

  • An exercise known as The Hand requires placing your dominant hand on a page. Slowly slide your hand down the page while following the hand with your eyes. Do not pause and complete the action only one time on each page.
  • The Card uses a paper to cover previously read words and prohibit backtracking. Covering words at an increasingly faster pace makes the brain work faster.
  • Readers using The Sweep technique form a cup with their dominant hand to block previously read words and effectively sweep them off the page.
  • The Hop technique uses fingertips to maintain a steady reading pace of three to four words at a time. The approach also keeps eyes from wandering.
  • Zig-Zag approach helps readers scan for the important parts. Fingertips search for pertinent information across three or four lines in a diagonal direction. 

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