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stardust's avatar

Any tips on increasing the speed of one's reading?

Asked by stardust (10520 points ) June 8th, 2012

I have quite a long reading list to get through for Uni. and while I tend to read relatively quickly, I’d like to increase the speed at which I read. Anyone have any tips?
This question seems more farcical as I type, but it’s worth a shot all the same.

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16 Answers

jesslc323's avatar

I don’t know if this will help but I find when I read my text books and assignments out loud I go through them quicker…

lifeflame's avatar

1. Be clear about your purpose for reading. Are you reading generally to understand what each writer has to say? Are you looking for something specific to support your paper? Are you reading literature where you have to experience the text, or are you reading for ideas + understanding?

2. Based on that, prioritize. No one expects you to read every single word of your long reading list. Use titles, beginning and conclusions, headings, topic sentences to help you identify what is important, and what sections you can skip / come back to when you need more information.

3. Take notes – e.g., keywords in the margins, or skeleton of ideas on paper, so I can reference. Everyone has their own method for processing text, but the quantity of reading can be overwhelming, so you should have something to help you fix it in your memory, and also make it easy to locate again when you need to look it up.

4. Contrary to @jessic323, the only time I read aloud is when I am so tired that the text is swimming before my eyes. Otherwise reading aloud slows me down, because my eyes can move much faster than my voice. Other bizarre tricks I use when I am tired of reading is to change my physical environment, or posture. (e.g. squatting on the table!!—it literally gives me a new perspective.)

lifeflame's avatar

By the way, lots of resources on the web to do with reading effectively:
e.g.
http://www.mindtools.com/rdstratg.html
http://42explore.com/skim.htm

tranquilsea's avatar

There are many resources on speed reading. From books to internet sites.

ETpro's avatar

I took a speed reading course and learned how to read by just letting my eyes travel down page after page. I actually tested higher on reading comprehension reading that way than I did when I slowed down and read each word individually. But I found the process less satisfying, and went back to the old style reading. Still, it’s much faster if you let your eyes take in each word without thinking about speaking it; i.e., saying it to yourself..

Bellatrix's avatar

Active reading as @lifeflame suggests. Read with a series of questions in mind. Even if you are dealing with required readings, you can still read with a purpose and be prepared to read more than once. Also, if you don’t ‘get’ the reading before the lecture, it is likely that during the lecture or tutorial the key elements will be discussed to some level that will help you develop a clearer understanding.

What is the author’s argument?
What evidence have they used to develop that argument?
What key points do they make?
Who are they – why are they a credible voice in this field?
How does this reading connect with the learning objectives in the course you are studying?
How does it connect to other readings you have been given or found?

Take notes as you read. Draw concept maps. Use the information in some way. This will help you process the different ideas being presented and to identify relationships between various readings.

citizenearth's avatar

Speed reading is the way to go. There are many ‘types/methods’ of speed reading. Try a few of them and use one that is the most suitable to you. For start, you can try Harry Lorraine and Tony Buzan.

prasad's avatar

How to read better and fastrer by Norman Lewis : This book, in my opinion, is the best to increase your pace of reading along with comprehension and retention.

What I learned from it is pushing through the text, skimming or even not reading some words (like of, it, etc.) at times, to speed up reading. He advised not to read out loud to read faster, in stead let eyes run through the text. And, forcing yourself to read faster does boost your concentration too. I increased it from 126 wpm to 215 wpm by reading first three chapters of the book. Well, my reading speed in English is quite low; but I can read at twice or thrice faster in my mother tongue.

I don’t know if you can buy it from this site, but this is the book I read – green cover. I didn’t read it complete though, but I would like if I can.

wpm is an abbreviation for words per minute.

josie's avatar

see @ETpro and @prasad
You probably learned to read (like I did) word by word by word. This means visualizing, , conceptualizing, processing, integrating etc hundreds of times per page. Each of these discreet little steps take time.
The trick is to train your eye and brain into seeing groups of words as if they were one big word. Then you cut down the number of visual and mental tasks per page. Instead of going left to right, word by word, then back to the left again, line by line, you just go down the page treating each line as if it was a long word. When you think about it, it makes sense. You already do a short version of this when you read individual words. You don’t process each letter individually, you integrate them into a single word. Now all you have to do is integrate words into clusters just like you did with the indivual letters.
Once you understand that principle, it is just a matter of practicing and retraining your reading technique.

stardust's avatar

Thanks for the great tips. Much appreciated. I’ve been doing some digging around online and I’ve found some helpful resources.
This site allows you to chart your wpm progress in case anyone is interested.

ETpro's avatar

@josie That’s just the technique I learned. I could take in whole lines at once, then sets of multiple lines, whole paragraphs. I couldn’t quote back anything word for word, but in testing on the concepts I’d glossed over, I had them more firmly than I was able to do reading at a normal pace.

But like I said, I just didn’t get the same pleasure out of reading this way. It’s fine when you need to prep for a test and have limited time. But when reading for pleasure, I’d rather do it the old fashioned way.

josie's avatar

@ETpro And that would make sense.
A good writer goes to a lot of trouble to put particular words into certain arrangments and sequences. If you really want to appreciate the skill of a good writer, you have to savor the words themselves, even sometimes rereading them because it is gratifying to do so. At that point you want to appreciate the words themselves, and not just the gist of what the are saying.

ETpro's avatar

@josie Exactly.

mattbrowne's avatar

A healthy life style. Speed of reading (plus understanding what was read) depends on optimal working conditions of our brain.

GracieT's avatar

Unfortunately, I read quickly. That is to say that I can summarize writing to small bits that I understand rapidly. I was taught to read this way. It is difficult for me to read any other way. Unfortunately I may have to read something many times to catch all of the smaller details.

ETpro's avatar

@GracieT Thanks. That puts into very understandable words what I was trying to say about the Speed Reading course. Fortunately, I already had years of experience reading each and every word, so reverting was easy.

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