We’ve all heard stories about people who have the ability to blaze through thousands of words per minute—setting world records and devouring novels in one sitting. There are many ways for students to get through reading assignments, but speed-reading may be the most valuable.
Here are 10 steps for those who want to try and increase their reading speed.
1. Have all materials on hand
What beginners need is a book they have read, a book they haven’t read, a pen, a table, a timer and a quiet area. Earplugs or a source for white noise are also good for blocking out distracting sounds.
2. Learn at your leisure
In the first stages of speed-reading, there’s very little comprehension of the material, so don’t try to train with your class textbooks. Instead, practice during your breaks, weekends and other free time.
3. Be physically prepared
Any kind of reading can be arduous if you’ve missed a meal or haven’t had the proper amount of sleep. Grab some fruit or coffee before you dive into your session for an extra energy boost.
4. Time yourself
Begin with your unread book sitting flat on the table. Start your timer, read for three minutes and deduce how many words you read per minute. Continue timing yourself in order to keep track of progress.
5. Practice with a book you’ve read
Understanding the material is not a priority when you first start training. This can be frustrating for beginners, so avoid the distraction by reading a book you’ve already read.
6. Read with a pen
Using your closed pen as a guide, drag it under the words you read. It will this crush the habit of micro rereading and act as a physical force to keep your mind from wandering. Your pen should spend no longer than one or two seconds per line.
7. Don’t pronounce words
The primary cause of sluggish reading is the tendency to read in your head as if you were reading out loud. Instead of mentally enunciating each word, formulate its meaning by sight alone.
8. Group words together
Once you break the habit of pronouncing words individually, take it a step further and clump words together. What makes speed-reading possible are your eyes jumping from group to group, rather than word to word.
9. Avoid margins
As you slide across the lines of your book, keep your focus near the center of the page and let your peripheral vision capture the words closest to the left and right margins.
10. Aim for comprehension
Move to your new book, keep the pen moving and try to comprehend everything you read. Your speed won’t be very fast, but constant use of the techniques will strengthen it with time.
Like all exercises, speed-reading requires a lot of time, effort and concentration to master. It isn’t easy, but with perseverance it can be a helpful resource both in college and in everyday situations.
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