by Ron Kurtus (revised 14 June 2012)
You often must read and comprehend a tremendous amount of material in school. Being able to read rapidly is an important skill that will make your school work easier. Later in life, good reading skills can also help you advance in your career.
Most speed-reading methods are based on skim-reading first and in reading groups of words. It takes discipline and practice to become a super reader. Modern speed reading software also can come in handy to greatly increase reading speeds.
Questions you may have include:
- How important is reading fast?
- How is skim reading used?
- How do you read groups of words?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Speed is important
It certainly is more enjoyable to be able to read something rapidly, instead of spending what seems like forever struggling through the words.
Students and workers improve
Besides the enjoyment factor, students need to get through a lot of reading material in as fast a time as possible. Efficient reading skills will help them in their schoolwork and help to improve their grades.
Azzis had been a slow reader. He understood the words but just plodded along when he read the material. Finally, he learned to read faster and suddenly found that he finished his homework much soon than before. This led to better grades.
Some workers must read reports, as well as research material, for their jobs. If they can read faster, with greater comprehension, their chance of a raise and a promotion is increased. Note that top executives usually have rapid-reading skills.
Although it is difficult to speed-read a complex chapter in a Mathematics book, using speed-reading techniques can help to improve your comprehension. This is especially true when you have to read a large amount of material that can numb your brain.
In skim reading, you just scan through the material, letting your eyes catch key words. This can give you a rough idea of the meaning of the material. Some speed-reading methods teach reading material two times. First, you skim-read the material, and then you read it over a second time, more carefully, but still trying to read rapidly.
Skim several times
When reading a large amount of material, you can first skim over the chapter and section titles to give you an idea of what the material is about. Then quickly scan through the material again to get a better idea of the topic. Finally, you read the assignment, but still reading rapidly.
Read first sentence
Since often the first sentence of each paragraph states the main idea of that paragraph, while the other sentences elaborate on that idea, you can skim read by just reading the first sentences. In some cases, you can get enough information by only reading the first sentence from each paragraph.
Unfortunately, some writers make their paragraphs so long, that they have several ideas in them, and others stick the important sentences in the middle. In such cases, you can't use the first sentence method effectively.
With some complex reading—like Mathematics—you should still skim over the material, quickly looking at section titles and the equations and formulas.
After you get an idea of what the material is about and where it is going, you can read it more carefully. Since you often may have to work out problems with a pencil, obviously your reading speed will not be as high as other type of reading.
Most people read one word at a time, saying the words to themselves. This is a slow way of doing the task, especially when your mind is capable of processing information at a much higher rate.
Look at groups of words
One of the primary tricks in speed-reading is to look at phrases and groups of words instead of individual words. Instead of reading word-by-word, you read in chunks of information. You don't have to say the word to understand what it means.
Practice with newspaper
Try reading several words, a phrase, or even a sentence at a time. A good way to practice this is to read newspaper articles by scanning down the column, digesting all the words across, instead of reading each word at a time. A newspaper column usually has 4 or 5 words per line, and you should be able to process all of them at once.
This method is one of the best for getting used to reading phrases instead of words. Just practicing reading this way should noticeably increase your speed.
An efficient way of practicing is to use speed-reading software, such as 7 Speed Reading that will effectively guide you through increasing your reading speed. They state that using their software for 7-minutes a day for two weeks, you will be able to read three times faster than before.
Of course, just like other improvement systems, you still need to practice and use the software to gain success.
If you think about reading faster, you will make an effort to pick up the pace. Reading speed is something you must work on and concentrate on until it becomes a habit.
Being able to read and comprehend the material at high speed is a skill that is worthwhile for students and people in business. Most methods involve reading chunks of information so that you are skimming or scanning the book or document. Speed-reading software has also been proven effective.
Practice increasing your reading speed
Resources and references
7 Speed Reading Software - Take 7 minutes per day for just two weeks to greatly increase your reading speed
Power Reading: The Best, Fastest, Easiest, Most Effective Course on Speed Reading and Comprehension Ever Developed! by Rick Ostrov, The Education Press (2001) $14.95
Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump, Prentice Hall Press (1998) $16.00
The Evelyn Wood Seven-Day Speed Reading and Learning Program by Stanley D. Frank, Barnes & Noble Books-Imports; (2003) $6.98
Questions and comments
If you have questions, comments, or opinions on this subject, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Click on a button to bookmark or share this page through Twitter, Facebook, email, or other services:
Students and researchers
The Web address of this page is:
Please include it as a link on your website or as a reference in your report, document, or thesis.
Where are you now?