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Techniques for speed reading

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Faster reading is something that requires time and effort. Learn more about how to boost your reading speed in this article.

Table of Contents

Whether you’re reading a massive nonfiction book, a short Wikipedia entry, or any other type of reading material, having the ability to read words faster means that you will get more value out of your reading session and have more time in the day for other tasks and activities. As with learning any new skills, though, faster reading is something that requires time and effort. 

Thankfully, there are several apps, courses, and reading strategies that can help you improve your reading speed and reading comprehension alike. To help you boost your reading ability, let’s take a closer look at some of these proven speed reading techniques and tools. 

Overview of reading speeds

It’s first worth mentioning that everyone has different levels of reading skills. Any average you see about reading time, therefore, is simply that – an average. Nevertheless, it can still be helpful to compare your own reading speed to that of the average reader to see where you stand and to find out how much room for improvement you have. 

According to Scholar Within, the average reading speed of adults in the United States is 238 words per minute (WPM). When reading aloud, this average reading speed drops to 183 WPM.

Of course, reading speed alone isn’t the only important factor to consider; a person could quickly skim a page and say that they read it in a matter of seconds, but comprehending what they’ve read is a different matter. Reading comprehension, therefore, is an important consideration as well. According to Reading Soft, a reading comprehension rate of 60% is considered average, while those who are able to comprehend 85% or more of what they read are considered excellent readers. 

How to calculate your own reading speed

You can calculate your reading speed by simply reading a page of known word count then dividing that word count by how many minutes it takes for you to finish reading the page. Alternatively, you can also take an online reading speed test such as this test offered by Reading Soft. 

Ways you can increase reading speed yourself

Whether you are a slow reader, a fast reader, or somewhere in-between, there is always room for improvement. If you would like to speed up your reading rate without sacrificing comprehension, here are a few proven strategies to try: 

1) Read more often 

Like anything else, reading is something that you get better at with practice. Adjusting your reading habits so that you consume more reading material is sure to help you sharpen your reading skills and prevent regression. Best of all, you are likely to gain a lot of new knowledge along the way as well. 

2) Silence your inner monologue 

Your inner monologue, known as subvocalization, is the process of speaking words in your head as you read. Subvocalization is a common habit among most readers. However, it’s also one of the bad habits that might be slowing down your reading speed. 

When you vocalize words in your head as part of your reading process, you are probably going to read at roughly the same rate that you speak. It should come as no surprise then, that the average reading rate is about the same as the average rate at which people speak. 

If you want to increase the number of words that you are able to read per minute, ditching subvocalization is an important first step. It may take a little time and practice before you are able to read words visually without any type of vocalization. Once you are able to get past this barrier, though, speed reading becomes much easier. 

3) Read in chunks 

When we first learn to read, reading a single word at a time is what most of us are taught to do. However, processing groups of words at once is obviously going to be much faster than processing a single word at a time. 

Many people learn to read in chunks on their own without ever even thinking about it. For others, breaking the habit of reading individual words takes a little more time and purposeful effort. If you fall into the latter category, try reading by focusing on two or three words in a single glance, continuing line for line down the page in this manner. In time, you can train your brain to read larger chunks of text than this and can even use your peripheral vision to read entire lines in a single glance. 

4) Avoid re-reading 

If you watch the eye movement of someone who is reading, you are likely to notice a lot of jittery, back-and-forth movement instead of steady, even movements across the page. This is because most people spend a lot of time re-reading text they’ve already read. While it’s sometimes necessary to re-read a line for comprehension and retention it, this habit probably isn’t helping your reading comprehension as much as you think – and it’s certainly hurting your reading speed. By limiting the amount of time you spend re-reading, you’ll spend less time on each section.

Technologies that can help you become a speed reader

Along with the reading strategies we’ve covered above, there are several apps that can help improve your reading ability, including apps such as: 

1) Reading Trainer 

Reading Trainer is a popular reading comprehension app that offers a variety of fun games and exercises designed to improve your reading skills. From improving the coordination of your eye movements to teaching you how to read entire lines at a time, this app can offer a lot of benefits and is completely free to download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. 

2) Reedy 

We’ve already explained how reading one word at a time is the slowest way to read. However, that isn’t true in the case of the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) reading strategy. This strategy entails displaying text one word at a time in rapid succession in order to limit eye movement. While there are several apps that can enable you to read digital text in this manner, Reedy is one of the best. 

3) Speechify 

If you are still struggling to read at an acceptable rate, utilizing a text-to-speech app such as Speechify is a great option to consider. With Speechify, you can listen to any online text or digital document instead of having to read it yourself and can adjust the speed at which text is read so that you can consume material as fast as you can comprehend it.

Featuring high-quality AI voices that sound just like real human narrators, advanced note-taking features, and much more, Speechify enables an exciting new reading experience that isn’t bound by your reading speed. If you’re a fan of audiobooks and podcasts, you might enjoy the text-to-speech experience. To see if Speechify is the right choice for you, be sure to sign up for a free trial of Speechify Premium today! 

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