Whether you want to get over your office paperwork or skim through the pile of amazing books you never touched, everyone wants to know how to read faster and absorb as much information as they possibly can.
However, the thought of going through all the dense passages and paperwork can be quite mentally exhausting for you. And instead of enjoying, the habit of reading can become a complete chore for you.
This is the story of everyone. No matter how fast of a reader you are, you always wish that you could even read faster and remember more of the content.
Achieving this feat is not as complicated as it sounds, and you can speed-read just about anything by following these awesome strategies.
What Does Speed Reading Mean?
While the term” speed-reading” is not new to most of you, it’s a technique that helps you read faster and understand the meaning of the written information in a more precise way. It not only helps you increase the read words per minute but also helps to retain the knowledge effectively.
To understand how speed reading works, let’s first see how the reading process actually works.
How does Reading Work?
Reading is a 3-step process that consists of the following phases:
In this phase, you orient yourself and find the reason to pick up the piece of text you wants to learn.
Going through the Text:
This is where you get down to the actual reading and start to jump from word to word. All the meanings and concepts are formed in this phase of reading.
In this phase, you contemplate what you have read and use the newly gained information by incorporating it into your knowledge stack and implementing it in practical life.
How to Speed Up this Process
Speeding up this process is relatively easy when you hush the inner voice that reads beside you. When you stop sub-vocalizing, you can more easily fixate on the following words in the line.
This isn’t like skimming, in which you skip words that you deem unnecessary. Instead, you just see the words in quick succession without being bogged down by speaking them silently. Doing so can increase your speed from an average of 200-300 words per minute to almost 1500 wpm.
Benefits of Speed Reading
Apart from learning how to read faster, speed reading also helps improve and hone your brain function. When you speed read and put your mind to the test, you adapt to understand new information faster.
And as a result, your performance is improved by developing the following:
11 Strategies to Read Faster and Better:
Now you know the benefits of reading faster, let’s dive into the strategies that help you achieve this:
1. Stop Subvocalization
Subvocalization means when you unintentionally speak or mumble the words you read. This habit bogs and slows you down immensely.
If you have this habit, then it’s no big deal. Most of us have learned to read this way since our early school years. But if you don’t change this method, you will continue to read with the inner monologue in your mind.
When you read without talking to yourself, you get through the text quicker. Our minds can comprehend words faster if we believe in our vision and trust the input we receive. Regurgitating or ruminating over every bit of info causes us to slow down.
2. Don’t Re-read the Words
Often, people have the habit of repeating words or sentences more than once. Usually, when you read a passage, your eyes regress to previous sentences that give you the satisfaction of reading everything correctly.
Although this may be a good way to maintain your comprehension of the text, it might excessively slow down your reading speed. To combat this problem, just read ahead and don’t look back.
When you break this habit, you develop more trust in your reading ability and can go through the text faster.
3. Use a Marker or Your Finger as a Guide
When we open a page of a book, our vision spreads all around. Instead of focusing on one word at a time, we keep shifting our gaze around all the information in front of us.
You can take care of this problem by using a pen or your finger to follow through the text as you read. When you do so, your vision stays put and follows the lead of your finger.
This prevents you from subvocalizing, and, in turn, you read faster. This ensures you read one line at a time rather than flitting your eyes about and understanding nothing.
4. Improving Your Vocabulary
Most of the time, we come across words that we don’t truly understand. And when this happens, we immediately start googling or searching for its meaning in the dictionary.
Doing this slows down your reading speed significantly.
If you improve your vocabulary, you will have more words at the back of your mind. The more words you add to your library, the lesser you would have to scramble for the meaning.
This is a gradual process as the more you read, the more you increase your lexical resources. Ultimately, you’ll become a faster reader.
5. Focus on the Main Keywords:
Reading whole sentences word by word can impede your speed. You don’t need to do so to understand the meaning and context.
Focusing on the keywords helps you with all the information required to acknowledge what’s being told. This might seem hard at first, but you’ll glide through passages with super ease when you get used to it.
6. Read with Intention.
Before choosing a book or opening a blog, ask yourself, “why do I need to read this?” “Is it really worth my time?”
When you think about reading this way, you prioritize whether you would actually enjoy this read or not. Having a specific goal in your mind would help you absorb information faster as you would be eager for it.
So when you have the intention to read the material you are looking for, you automatically read faster as all the information is relevant to your objective, cutting all the non-essential stuff to the side.
7. Being Focused on the Text.
Reading faster can be challenging, especially if you are easily distracted by things around you. To increase your speed, you need to focus on the text rather than your unnecessary per-occupations.
Put your phone in silent mode, turn off your social media notifications and maintain an atmosphere of Zen when finally sitting down for a reading session. Doing this helps increase your attention span and teaches you how to read faster.
8. Reading More Often
If you are just new to reading books, you might struggle to develop a pace like an expert or habitual reader.
However, you don’t need to worry about it at all. Start by reading a few pages at a time and then gradually progress to reading at a stretch.
This will train your mind to process information effectively. It would know what parts to focus more on and skim through the least important parts. And as you read more, you’ll become better at reading stuff faster.
9. Get an Overview of the Text:
When reading, keep in mind what kind of text it is. Knowing what’s on your table helps you prepare before starting your reading journey.
Knowing how the author wants to communicate the information to you makes your brain more perceptive to it. To get a brief overview, you should read the titles, read headings, and subheadings, see the images, captions, etc.
Is the text practical? Get an essence of the text. Is it even accurate, relevant to your needs, or interesting?
10. Read in a Productive Environment
Some people read best in the comfort of their beds. Some people can’t focus in a noisy environment, and going to the library is the only way they can focus.
Therefore it’s best to identify the place where you are the most productive. Reading for pleasure before bedtime might be a great way to relax your mind. But it’s probably not the best setting for a quick read.
To speed-read, you should sit in a quiet, organized workspace with ample lighting. If you don’t have a dedicated space like this, you can simply sit at any place provided there aren’t any distractions.
Acting on this simple tip will undoubtedly 2x your existing reading speed quickly.
11. Try Listening to Audiobooks Instead:
Another good way to increase reading speed is to listen to audiobooks. This might come across as odd to you, but listening to them might give you an edge when you are just starting out.
When you get bored of reading a book, you can spice things up a bit by grabbing a pair of headphones and listening to it instead. Whether you are doing chores, exercising, or driving is a wonderful way to fit reading into your daily routine.
This way, you’re reading and don’t feel guilty for not having enough time to incorporate books into your life. Slowly you develop the habit of reading and become keen to read more books and develop a faster pace with time.
12. Having a Reading Partner:
Another helpful strategy to increase your reading speed is finding a reading partner on the same level as you. This helps you keep each other motivated and accountable for reading daily.
You can even try this strategy by joining a reading club where all of the members plan to discuss the book after a set period of time. So, instead of procrastinating, you create a subtle pressure on yourself to read your books faster.
13. Taking Notes and Summarizing.
Taking notes and summarizing might seem illogical when you want to speed read. You may believe that you may lose valuable time when doing so. But actually, making short notes helps you see whether you have understood the read portion or not.
If you find it very difficult to summarize text into short notes, you know that you have not fully grasped the text. It is best to summarize once you have (speed) read a logical section of text that deals with a specific concept.
How to Read Faster with the SQ3R Methodology:
Besides using the above strategies, the SQR3 method is also an effective way to increase your reading speed and comprehension.
Though the name may seem complex and the steps daunting, this methodology has helped countless students and professionals retain more information as compared to other reading methods.
When you employ this strategy, you’ll notice that you remember things more clearly and don’t have to re-read stuff again and again. Let’s see how this actually works:
This step is identical to getting an overview of the reading material that I already explained above. In short, it means to get a feel of the idea of the text by skimming through the headings, subheadings, and images.
Orienting yourself in this manner will help map out a structure for all the information you would read.
By questioning, we mean crafting questions out of the headings and sub-headings you see. When you start to read the text, your mind becomes active and reads faster to look for the answers. And when you get your queries answered, you retain the info for longer.
Next on the list is reading the goods. You can either actively read or skim through the section as per convenience. Look up the answers to the queries you have.
Don’t get bogged down with the details. Just try to focus on the main ideas and prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by the details.
After reading the section, try recalling the answers to the questions you hashed out before. If you can answer them in your own words, then you have figured out the meaning of the passage.
If not, you can simply speed-read the text again and get the answers you may be missing.
The final step of this method involves revising every step you have done until now. Reviewing the read material consolidates and refreshes the questions, answers, and concepts you formed during this whole process.
Doing so helps you identify anything you might have left deficient. This might seem a slow process at first, but once you exercise it regularly, you’ll be able to extract more meaning and information in one go rather than going through the text multiple times.
As you become experienced, you are able to read more faster than before.
Final Words on How to Read Faster:
By following all the strategies mentioned above, you can be sure to spend your time reading the right things in the right depth, making you read faster and retain information for longer.