According to studies done on reading speed, the average adult is able to read roughly 300 words per minute…
Does that sound like a lot? Under certain circumstances with scarcity of time and for people with fast-paced life, the answer is a definite “no.”
These days, there are even downloadable applications that have surfaced on the market claiming to increase a person’s reading speed from the average to about 800-1,000 words per minute, which to some folks may seem like a waste of time and improbable; however, there is some truth in what they are saying. It is possible to read faster, though admittedly not as fast as these programs and applications would claim.
The only things you need are, know how many words you can read per minute and…wait for it…practice, practice, practice.
Cliché as it may seem, reading is a skill, especially speed reading, and like any other skill you have acquired in your life, it can be improved by practice. Much like you would practice speaking to someone in a foreign language, lest you forget how to use it.
If you don’t already know your reading speed, you can figure it with Staples’ free reading test here.
The key to finishing any reading material is to finish it quick aka to read it really fast. That sounds confusing and obvious, but it does make sense. Aside from when you also have a deadline, the truth is if you hate reading so much, the one thing you are up against the most is time.
Certain situations may require you to take your readings skills one level higher—and that’s where speed reading comes in. If you aren’t speed reading, you’re wasting time. Remember that you are trying to catch up with time as well as fight short-attention span.
So, how do we begin acquiring speed reading skill?
Here’s the process one undergoes in order to read fast.
First of all, ditch subvocalization while reading. Think of it like a voice in your head reading every single word. If you’re doing this, stop it because easier processing means less time the brain spends on actually understanding the words and more time to read more words.
Skimming is still reading. This is especially important if you’re reading any text (such as an exam) with time limitation that has questions to be answered. You can go ahead and skim and speed read the article to get a feel of the main idea it wants to relay. This way you can save on time from reading the unimportant information that are lodged in with the important ones.
- Reading comprehension, however, will be compromised because you’ll also be cutting down your time for it. But in situations wherein you’ll need to scan some documents, take timed exams or do a quickie review of notes before an exam, this is what you need to do!
In the same way that you would want to read the back cover of a book to determine whether or not to buy it, you can read a part or preview of an article to get an idea of the main focus it talks about. Through this, you will be able to set a state of mind when reading the article in its entirety.
Try doing these things that have been proven to help with speed reading on your next article, book, and other reading material, or to get through a long document for work or text for an exam.
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Basic skimming but what about techniques?