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12 August 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

How To Improve Your Reading Speed

The term ‘speed reading’ is the ability to rapidly recognize and absorb information on a page, rather than having to identify individual words. But still gaining as much knowledge and understanding.

Today, we need to process and understand a huge amount of data. Whether it’s emails, reports, website content, social media, or books and other reads at home. So we have 5 suggestions on how you can quickly improve your speed reading abilities:

  1. The pointer method

This method involves pointing along the lines as your eyes are reading them. Utah school teacher Evelyn Nielsen Wood was one of the pioneers of ‘the pointer method’ speed reading technique.

In the 1950s, she claimed she could read up to 2,700 words per minute if she swept a finger along the line as she read.

This later became known as the pointer method. It’s also been referred to as ‘hand pacing’ or ‘meta guiding’.

You could also try holding a card under each line and drawing it down the page as you read.

  1. Stop talking to yourself as you read

Almost every reader “subvocalizes’ or moves their mouth and throat as they read, imagining they are speaking the words. This may help conceptualize what you’re reading more easily, but it’s a huge barrier to speed.

Ultimately our brains are able to work a lot faster than our mouths. If you find yourself trying to say each word you’re reading, you’re not going to be reaching your speed reading potential.

Next time you’re reading a long text, keep an eye on yourself to see if you’re doing this.

  1. Understand how your eyes move

While reading, you may think your eyes move in a linear and methodical way through the pages. But really our eyes move jerkily, stopping on some words, skipping on others and sometimes skipping back to ones you’ve already read.

You can only read while your eyes have stopped. If you learn to make fewer movements per line, you’ll speed up your reading time.

Here are some interesting reading stats past researchers have found when it comes to the English language:

  • You can read 8 letters to the right of your eye position but only 4 to the left. This is roughly 2 or 3 words at a time.
  • You notice letters 9-15 spaces to the right but can’t read them clearly.
  • Normal readers don’t process words on other lines. Training yourself to skip lines and still understand them would be very difficult and not recommended.
  1. Tracker method

This is a variant of the pointer method but involves a pen with its cap still on. While you’re reading, underline or track each line as you read it, keeping your eye above the top of the pen. This will help increase the pace at which you take in each line, and improve your focus on the words. You can actually underline the words, or just use the pen as a pointer – it’s up to you.

Try to spend no more than 1 second on each line and then increase your speed with each subsequent page. It may take some time to build up speed. You will probably find that you retain very little information at first, but as you train your brain and you become more comfortable with the technique, your comprehension should improve.

  1. Set a pace faster than you can understand

If you sign up to speed reading software, many will claim to train your reflexes first, then keep practicing until your brain can catch up. While this has not been thoroughly studied, it may be worth trying and seeing if it works for you.

Try this technique to increase your speed first, then aim for your brain to catch up so you can understand the text:

  • Move a pencil along the text. Time this so you can say “one thousand” at a calm pace and finish just as you reach the end of a line.
  • Spend two minutes trying to read at the pace of the pencil. Even if you can’t understand anything, stay focused on the text and keep your eyes moving for the entire two minutes.
  • Rest for a minute, then go even faster. Spend three minutes trying to read at the pace of a pen that moves across two lines every time you say “one one thousand”.

Let us know how you get on with our speed reading tips. Feel free to practice these techniques on some of our articles!

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