If you are wondering how to read quickly, know that it is possible to do it through a little technique and through training. Before understanding how to read quickly, however, we need to define what is meant by “fast”. A normal reading speed is 200-250 words per minute. Which means it takes most people 1-2 minutes to read a page.
To understand what your reading speed is, you can give it a try: time yourself while reading a page, count the number of words on the page and then calculate your reading speed.
Another important issue you need to evaluate is your ability to understand and retain what you have read. Exercises on how to read fast also generally serve to learn to read better, taking you from a below average reading pace to a normal pace, or from a normal pace to a higher pace, while increasing your comprehension skills.
How to read and memorize quickly
To understand your level of understanding, read a passage and then try repeating what you just read, as if you were explaining it to another person. The more difficult you have to remember what you have read and the less you manage to integrate the concepts with what you already know, the more your understanding is lacking.
This is the reason why many people get discouraged and don’t read. But in the vast majority of cases a little training is enough and the problem is solved.
First you need to identify exactly what is limiting you, and they could be a collection of things. It could be the difficulty in paying attention and / or the lack of integration between what you read and what you know while reading.
If you want to improve your comprehension skills first get a text on a topic that interests you, or make an effort to find out how the text in front of you may be of interest to you. The level of interest you have in the subject plays an important part in your motivation to pay attention. Our brain has no intention of wasting energy on things it deems useless, and no matter how much you say to yourself “I have to be careful, I have to remember this”.
If you are reading a text not of your choice, it helps a lot to be interested in the subject, to find something that piques your curiosity. Maybe the text could contain information that can help you do or understand something you care about? Maybe it can open a window to something that fascinates you? Maybe he can give you tools you didn’t have before? Why are you reading that text? What are you going to look for? What is the question you hope that text will answer?
The way our mind understands concepts and remembers information is by tying them to concepts and information you already know and analyzing them. If you don’t integrate a concept with what you know you won’t understand it and if you don’t use information you won’t remember it.
First, get into the habit of doing a pre-reading. This is a step that few do because it is not taught in school, but it greatly helps both understanding and reading speed. Take a quick look at the text to understand what it is about, what is the point of view. What are the fundamental concepts? Turn pages quickly by reading headlines and nibbling quickly on bits of text to understand where the author is headed. This system is obviously not good for fiction texts, but it works with any other typology.
Once this is done, start reading normally. Having already an idea of the progress of the text, it will be easier to grasp the important concepts.
The reason people don’t understand what they read is that they don’t process what they read as they read it. If the thought does not go to take the concepts read and elaborate them immediately, the written words pass under the eyes without having any meaning apart from the single words in isolation: you understand the single words, but you do not understand what they say.
Pre-reading helps, but then you have to practice processing what you are reading. Read a passage or even just a sentence, then stop and think about it. What does it mean? How does it relate to other things you already know? What can it do for you? Take all necessary breaks to give yourself time to understand.
People who have learned how to read fast do this in real time, as they read. But even those who can read quickly find it useful to stop reading from time to time when they encounter complex or particularly illuminating concepts.
Stopping to think about what you have just read is also the basis of memorization, which is based on the association between information and on repetition.
How To Read Fast: Slow To Medium
If your reading speed is less than about 250 words per minute, it means that you are reading slower than average. One of the main reasons for slow reading is simple lack of training. The more we do one thing, the better we become. And while it is true that some people are more inclined than others to a particular activity, it is also true that there is no reason to be discouraged. Just arm yourself with a little patience. Reading something that interests you certainly helps motivate you to read more.
The difference between a normal speed reader and a slow reader is the ability to read words as a whole. Instead of reading the individual letters and then putting them together into words, with the habit you learn, usually without even realizing it, to read the whole word all at once, which also makes understanding easier, because it eliminates a passage.
Practice reading word by word, not letter by letter. Suddenly you will find yourself reading faster and understanding better at the same time.
How To Read Fast: Medium To Fast
Those who have no particular problem reading at medium speed, but want to develop the super power of fast reading, will have to train with special techniques.
From 250 words per minute, you can get to 400, and with a lot of training, you can go to 700-800 words per minute while maintaining an understanding of 80-90%, which is very high. Knowing how to read quickly is truly a super power. In studying, in your profession, in developing your interests, in your ability to learn, being able to read a book in half the time or even less greatly increases the amount of information available to you.
That said, we are delving into skill levels that cannot be achieved except through active training. Most people don’t develop the speed-reading skill on their own without focused effort.
It should be emphasized that with “fast reading” we do not mean “skimming”, that is, passing your eyes on the text just to get an idea, we mean reading having a high level of understanding of the text.
When we learn to read they teach us to pronounce the word in our mind. This step is very useful for teaching children to read, but it becomes a limit when we approach 400-450 words per minute of speed. This is in fact the maximum speed in which our mind “pronounces” the words. Now, since vocalizing the words in one’s mind is not really for understanding, this step can be avoided. It is a bit like describing a photograph when we have it in front of our eyes.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The subvocalization is part of how our mind processes language, so it cannot be completely eliminated, but you can limit it to the point that only a small portion of words read are subvocalization.
Learning how to read quickly involves breaking this “sound barrier”, which is achieved through training, reading at a speed higher than what you are comfortable with and trying not to “pronounce”, not to hear the sound of words.
Just as going from letter-by-letter to word-by-word reading increases reading speed, so reading blocks of words all together allows you to read even faster.
Our eyes do not move gradually, but “jump” from one point to another. They do the same thing on a book page. But as fast as the eye movement is, there is always that instant when our eyes are actually not seeing anything. If you decrease the number of eye movements, you can read faster. To do this you have to train yourself to group words into blocks (for example “to do this”, “you have to train to” and “group words”) to be covered with a single movement of the eyes, using peripheral vision to see the words to the sides of the word we are looking at. Our eyes never touch the words near the edge of the page and they don’t point to every word, but only skip two or three times per line.
Pre-reading is an integral part of the ability to read quickly. It might seem like this extra step slows down the process, but it actually greatly helps understanding and is an important part of the reading strategy.
One thing people who read at medium speeds don’t do is read strategically. They read the entire book from beginning to end in the same way, approaching each paragraph and each passage in the same way. This is the consequence of conceiving the goal of reading as “finishing the book”; but reading is not finishing the book, it is acquiring information and ideas. So, if a passage repeats a concept you’ve already understood, you can read more quickly, simply by checking that there isn’t something that you missed. Many books contain anecdotes which in turn can be read more quickly. Other passages instead contain substance, important concepts, and it is worth stopping reading at that point and pausing to think. You may even want to reread certain passages.
How To Read Quickly: Training
To learn how to read fast and reach high peaks of speed, targeted training is essential. The ideal is to choose texts specifically for exercising or training with books or passages from unimportant books. The reason for this is that during training you have to force yourself to read faster than you are used to and focus on the exercise itself.
As you focus on limiting subvocalization and reading words in blocks using peripheral vision, you will not be able to focus equally on the meaning of the text. Understanding will necessarily have to be sacrificed. It is therefore worthwhile to dedicate moments of reading to training for fast reading. Once these mechanisms are in place, you will apply them without having to sacrifice understanding.
THE VALUE OF FAST READING
It’s not about “finishing the book”, it’s about getting the most out of it. Learning how to read quickly has great value because it allows you to get more information per unit of time. You may decide to stop reading a book that doesn’t contain enough useful or interesting information. Not all books are of quality. You may even decide to reread an entire book, or just read a portion of it.
Quick reading techniques are not meant to “finish first”. Finish what? A book you don’t care about and won’t remember anything about anyway? Books are just aids to convey information through language. Learning how to quickly read and understand is a way to absorb more information and enjoy more content in the time you have.