Speed reading can prove an extremely beneficial skill when you need to deal with big amounts of information in a short period of time. You can find it particularly useful if you are a student and need to revise an 800-page textbook before an exam. It can also make your work much more productive if your job routine involves studying a lot of text. Speed reading allows you to focus on the essence and ignore the less important information.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you learn to speed read:

1. Read with a pencil

Keep a pencil along the lines you are reading through. If you practice this for some time, at some point, your eyes will get used to following the pencil. When you master this skill, you will notice that you will be able to move the pencil faster and thus, increase the speed of your reading. You could also use a highlighter to run through the page and distinguish the most important information.

2. Read the whole phrase

Reading every word separately is like reading by syllables instead of reading entire words. One of the key moments in learning to speed read is to resist the temptation to say each word in your mind too. I know it can be really difficult as it’s the way most people read. This habit is called subvocalization and is one of the most common reasons why people take too much time to read a text.

Reading speed depends on whether you can cover the whole sentence and understand the main point. So don’t focus on separate words.

3. Capture as much as possible

After you have managed to read entire sentences without wasting time on every word separately, try to expand your viewing angle. Are you afraid of missing something important? Practice as much as you can and soon, you will get used to this approach to reading. Just remember one thing: don’t stop at specific words and don’t concentrate your attention on any particular point in the text.

Yes, the process of mastering this skill takes a lot of time because it’s more difficult to unlearn something you know than to learn something new.

When should you use speed reading?

Be ready that in the beginning, you won’t be able to capture all the ideas, and you will omit some information. However, over time, you will get used to capturing the whole sense, without subvocalizing each word. At some point, you will learn to do it without neglecting a single piece of valuable information.

The reason for slow reading is a constant fear to miss some important information. So you are going back, re-reading the same paragraph again and again … Try to get rid of this fear. Move forward, learn not to go back, and not to stop.

And of course, remember that speed reading is only effective for certain occasions, such as revising for an exam or looking through a ton of papers to find something specific. You should never practice speed reading on important documents! You should avoid it in any instances where missing details could have negative consequences for your work or wellbeing. I guess you get the point.

Also, it doesn’t make sense to speed read literature and any other texts intended for deep reading. What’s the point in reading a classic novel if you are going to just jump through the pages? Some literal works don’t want you to rush but to be mindful of every single word so that you get the chance to enjoy the talent of the writer and learn profound life lessons in the process.

Anna LeMind, B.A.

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