How to Read Faster
Reading is one of the most essential and rewarding activities in life, no matter whether you read for pleasure, knowledge, entertainment, academic or career purposes, or simply because you like escaping reality. Learning to read more efficiently will also help you enhance your learning, improve your thinking, and refine your ability to retain information. Despite that, most of us don't find the time or energy to read as much as we would like, given the juggle of our daily lives.
In this oneHOWTO article, we will explain some tricks and methods to help you learn how to read faster and better by following some simple steps and methods you can start incorporating right away.
Find the reading environment that works for you
If you want to learn how to read faster and better, the first thing you need to do is find the perfect environment to read. It's true that most readers enjoy reading no matter where they are, but there are certain places that simply encourage good reading more than others, and they're different for everyone. Whether you read at work, at home, or in public, find a place that meets the following criteria:
Find a quiet place
It is essential to be calm and relaxed while reading so that you can really focus on the content and not on whatever is going on around you. Expert readers can read in the loudest and most crowded places without becoming distracted; however, if you are a beginner, or you want to improve your reading skills, you should try to improve the reading conditions as much as possible. Finding a calm and quiet place can take you a long way.
Lighting does matter
As part of preparing the environment for reading properly, it is important to consider the lighting. Dark lighting, for example, makes it harder to concentrate, and as a result, slows your reading speed. In some cases, in can even cause headaches. On the other hand, if the light is too bright, it can overwhelm the retinas of your eyes, and you might have trouble seeing the words clearly. It is always best to read in natural light, which is gentler on your eyes. If you like to read at night or indoors, then find a desk lamp that does not shine directly onto your book or your face.
Make yourself comfortable
It is essential to keep good posture and find the right chair when reading, especially since you are likely to remain in the same position for a long time. Avoid reading large, heavy books that might be difficult to hold in the air after a while.
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Read groups of words
In order to read faster, one of the exercises that works best is not to read an entire sentence word for word, but to read multiple words at once. This is called word-chunking and is the one of the main keys to reading faster. Attempt to read three words with one glance instead of reading each word individually. You can do this by taking mental pictures of the sentences. You will notice that you are still able to process and comprehend what you read, but you are spending a lot less time doing so.
In addition to taking mental pictures of the sentences, you can also read them peripherally to save time. Although this technique may seem challenging at first but with a little practice you will be able to do it in no time.
Example: Have you ever seen a man as big and intimidating as that? There are 13 words in this sentence. If we read them one by one, that is to say “Have you – ever – seen…” with a pause between each word, we are going to take longer. However, if we make groups of words, the reading time will decrease notably. We would read it like this: “Have you ever seen – a man as big and intimidating – as that?” The time we spend reading this sentence will be shorter if we read 3 words instead of 12.
You might also be interested in learning how to write better, if so, keep reading this article on how to write essays better.
Subvocalization, also known as inner monologue, is the habit of mentally repeating what we read. Even though it is a natural reflex, it can greatly slow down the reading process. By following these simple techniques, you will soon be able to overcome this obstacle and increase your reading speed.
Occupy your inner voice
If you keep your inner voice busy, you will subvocalize less. To start, we recommend counting from 1 to 3 while reading to keep your inner voice distracted. You can also try reading with instrumental music playing in the background or while chewing on some gum. Although this technique may be difficult at first, it will help you read much faster over time.
Observe how another person reads, and you will notice that their eyes do not make a left-to-right movement, but rather go from front to back abruptly. This is due to a regression process created by subvocalization. The best way to eliminate it is to train your eyes to move smoothly from side to side. You can do this by using your fingers as a guide and train your eyes to follow your fingers as you read.
You can remove subvocalization easily with certain applications currently in the market. You will be able to read the text more quickly because the words appear word by word at such a rapid pace that you won't have time to mentally repeat what you have read.
If you want to read literary passages better, then do not miss out on this article on how to analyze a literary passage.
Use a guide
If you watch the average person's eyes as they read, you'll notice they jump and flit about. They do not just go back and forth evenly, as one should expect. This is because we tend to go back over words we've already read. By using the next technique, you will be able to break the habit.
Do you remember when you were learning to read that your teachers encouraged you to use your finger as a guide, so you wouldn't get lost? Well, you should use your finger or bookmark to guide you, even though it may feel a little childish at first. Keep your finger running back and forth across the page, without stopping or going back. Try to concentrate and assimilate the most important concepts on the first pass.
Re-read the important parts
If a sentence or passage caught your attention, read it again. Reflect upon it. When you finish reading a book or article, don't just toss it aside. Go back to the section that resonated with you or read it from the beginning again.
Rereading might seem counterproductive at the beginning, since it takes more time, but you will gain a better understanding of the text, which will make you a more efficient reader in the long run. Re-reading a paragraph that caught your attention will not only help you remember it, but you will also remember what you liked about it, and you will see it in a different light.
There are no speed reading exercises that work better than regular reading. By reading more, you will become better at it. The better you are at reading, the faster you will read. Reading daily will also allow you to practice and improve all the reading strategies discussed above.
Additionally, we recommend you take a stopwatch and measure your reading rate. Did you know that the average reading speed is between 200 and 300 words per minute? Start doing this regularly, aiming to beat your previous count each time. Give yourself a reward when you reach your daily or weekly goal. You will surely notice great results if you train yourself and follow all the techniques mentioned above.
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