Reading is one of the most prominent activities we do daily. You may think you don’t like reading or you are not a reader but just wait a minute and think it over – while reading a newspaper, or going through the contracts you’ve got to sign, or checking your mail, you are actually reading! Reading can also be marked as one of the most important work based skills.
Reading is important but also time consuming. If the speed of reading be increased, one can get that extra time he or she craves for to rest a bit more or complete other tasks. So improving the reading speed is no doubt advantageous. The average reading speed is noted as 250-300 words per minute (wpm) but it really depends on the material and practice.
It is easier to achieve efficient reading that involves a good speed along with comprehension by breaking the faults in your reading habits.
Regression refers to skipping back to words you’ve read or lines you’ve already gone through. Avoid this as it can subsidize your understanding of the material. To avoid regression, pacers are used.
Sub vocalization is the habit of ‘speaking the word’ in your mind. Sometimes people do it sub consciously. It consumes as much time as you take while talking. By erasing this itself, you can speed your reading by a marvelous speed. To do this, just keep telling yourself that you won’t speak the word in your mind! You just won’t!
Other than these, inefficient eye motion, reading word by word and poor concentration can also be reason to your slow reading.
Now about speeding your reading – it is not a piece of cake to do so if you are a day dreamer. But if you are focused enough, it won’t be too difficult for you.
Regarding the things you’d need to get ready with – a timer, a pacer (i.e. a pen or a bookmark, your finger is enough at times) and a book!
Starting with the activity!
- Get the average words per line: For this, count the number of words in five lines and divide it by five. The resultant will be your number of words per line on an average.
- Mark your timer for one minute and read in your normal comprehensive speed. Do not go faster or slower, just maintain your usual speed.
- Once you get the number of lines you read in one minute, multiply it by average words per line obtained in step one. This is your wpm rate
- Now use your pen or finger or marker as your tracker and pacer and read the lines in no more than one second. Don’t worry about comprehension; just try to read the line in one second.
- Now repeat step 4 but this time try to read a line in half a second. Do this for three whole minutes.
Basically, we take time to read as we don’t fully make use of our perceptual vision. For example, if you focus on the centre of the sheet, you can still make out the margins. When we read left to right, taking in the whole word fully, we also tend to read the margins that have nothing at all written over. This wastes about 30% – 50% of our reading time. To avoid that we’ll go on to our next step.
- For the subsequent minute, start reading but this time begin one word in from the first word and end at one word in from the last. Remember to take no more than a second per line. Again, do not worry about comprehension.
- For the next minute, begin from two words in from the first to two words in from the last word.
- Now begin from three words in from the first till three words in from the last. Carry this on for three minutes keeping half a second for each line.
- Now comes the final Here, you read for a minute at your fastest comprehension rate. Multiply the number of lines with the number of words per line obtained in step 1 and lo and behold! You have a new and increased speed of reading…congratulations!
Implications to keep in mind!
- Practice is the name of the game! You can only perfect and maintain your speed by practicing thoroughly.
- It is suggested that while going through legal contracts and other such stuff, you go slow and thorough. It is something important that demands hole of your attention.
- Speed reading is a skill that mostly involves breaking poor reading habits like sub vocalization and regression.
- Once you are over with the activity, remember that you read to understand and not just for speed!
Hope it helps!