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How to Quickly Master Speed Reading (To Start Absorbing Info Fast)

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Read Time: 9 min

Are you overwhelmed with all the information that's out there? Want to absorb more information? Do you want to learn to speed read? 

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With all the information available, you may wonder how to increase your reading speed and comprehension. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Every year, more and more information is thrown at us. Emails, social media, newsletters, books, and other forms of readable content try and grab our attention. We're pressured into keeping up with all this content so we can "stay in the loop" and make more informed decisions in our lives. 

The problem with all this information is the average reader can only read so fast. If you aren't able to increase your reading speed, then you won't be able to keep up with today's content-driven world. 

In this article, we cover everything you need to know to learn to speed read. 

Before you learn how to speed read, let's first look at an offer that'll be useful for speed readers or any creative person. 

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  • focus on other parts of your creative project

What Is Speed Reading & Why You Should Do It?

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Are you wondering "what is speed reading?" (Image source: Envato Elements)
Speed reading is just what it sounds like. It's reading with speed - the process of quickly recognizing and understanding entire sentences or paragraphs on a page. It differs from normal reading, which is about identifying individual words. 

Speed reading helps you get through more content. This helps you be more productive. Whether you're reviewing a business proposal or reading for pleasure, speed reading can help you get through the content quicker. This can make reading a much less tedious process.

Speed Reading Techniques

There are three techniques that are used to speed read:

  1. pointer method
  2. tracker and pacer method
  3. scanning method

The pointer method is best when you first start speed reading. To do this method, place your finger under the line you're reading and sweep it along as you read the line. Holding a card under each line works well also.

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Find the right speed reading technique for you. (Image source: Envato Elements)

The tracker and pacer method is another common technique. Just take a capped pen and place it right below a line of text. This helps you take in more of each line and helps you focus more on the words. When using this method, you'll retain less information at first. With some practice, you'll quickly be able to increase your speed and retention. 

The scanning technique involves moving your eyes quickly down the page. Usually, you'll scan your eyes down the center of the page, which helps you get phrases of words quickly. This helps you get the key parts of the page and not every word. 

Don't Forget About Comprehension

One common issue with speed reading is low retention of the words you read. When you first start to speed read, you'll most likely have problems with retention. As long as you follow the tutorial closely and practice, you can overcome this obstacle. 

Let's now learn how to speed read by following the steps outlined below:

How to Speed Read

By following these steps, you'll have the tools needed to know how to speed read and remember:

1. Fix Bad Habits

When we first learn how to read, we're taught to subvocalize.

Subvocalizing is moving your throat as you're saying the words out loud.

Unfortunately, this habit usually sticks with people. Subvocalizing words is the number one way to slow down your reading.

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To read more quickly, you need to fix bad habits. (Image source: Envato Elements)

There are some things that we can do to stop subvocalizing. Try tactics like humming or chewing gum to stop the habit. Another option is to place your finger on your lips.

Another bad habit is rereading earlier words. Often your eyes go back to earlier words. This slows down your reading. To avoid rereading by try covering the words right after you read them. You can use something like an index card.

If you're having trouble retaining the words, try slowing down. 

2. Understand Your Eye Movements

When you read, your eyes jerk around the page. This leads you to stop on some words and skip others. To help your speed reading, you'll want to make as few of movements with your eyes as possible per line.

There are a few things to note about your what you're able to read with each eye position. For a single eye position, you can only read eight letters to the right and only four to the left. This is about two to three words that you can read. 

Your brain tells your eyes where to move based on the length and familiarity of the words. To read faster, move your eyes to specific parts of the page. (This may take training on your part.)

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Understand what your eyes do when you read. (Image source: Envato Elements)

There are three types of spacing that you need to train for depending on what you want to do. The spacings are set based on if you want a good understanding of the text, if there are easy to read texts, and to skim the main points. 

  1. To find the spacing try using an index card placed above your text. Make a mark on the card over the first word. You can use an X or other marking. This will be your anchor. 
  2. If you want a good understanding of the text, place another marking three words to the right of the first marking. Then make more markings until you finish the line. 
  3. If you're going to read text that's easy to read, set the next marking five words to the right of the first marking. Then write more markings until you finish the line
  4. If you want to skim the text, place another marking seven words to the right of the first marking. Then write more markings until you finish the line. 
  5. To use this technique, focus your eyes just below the marking. This sets your eyes so they can read the fastest for each of the three types of scenarios.

3. Train for Speed

One way to increase your speed is to read at a faster pace than you can understand. At first, your retention of the text will decrease. To see improvement, you'll need to practice. Then once you slow down the pace a bit, your brain can keep up.

To practice this extreme type of speed reading move your pen or pencil along a line of text for one second. Do this for two minutes and try and read at this one line at a second pace. It may be hard to comprehend what you're reading but stay focused for these two minutes. 

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Do you want to save time by reading more quickly? (Image source: Envato Elements)

Then rest for one minute. When you start up again, double the pace. Try and read two lines in one second for three minutes. 

This trains your brain to recognize words at a faster rate. This may be a bit frustrating to do because of the speed. 

You can also use RSVP or Reading Rapid Serial Visual Presentation software on your phone or computer. 

By practicing step three, you'll know how to increase your reading speed and comprehension.

4. Skimming Text

Skimming text is another method you can use. But this method isn't about going quickly through each line of text. It's about omitting text from your reading. Skimming is great for scanning text and getting a general sense for what it's about. 

It's important to note that skimming isn't a substitute for reading.
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Another way to get a general sense of what material is about is scanning or skimming. (Image source: Envato Elements)

To skim the text effectively, there are a few steps we can take. 

  1. First, read the headings and titles for each section. This gives us the main topics in the text. 
  2. Next, read the opening and closing paragraph of a chapter or article. If you're reading a business book, you can read the introductory and summary chapters. 

Try not to speed read though when you're reading these paragraphs. You want to absorb all the information that you read when skimming. 

If you're still having trouble understanding what the text is about after you've read the headings, titles, and first and last paragraphs of a chapter you can do the following:

  • read the opening sentence of each paragraph
  • look at pictures and diagrams if they're available
  • highlight or circle important words. This includes repeated text, bolded text, italic text, underlined text, words you don't recognize, and main ideas.

Learn More About Productivity

Are you looking for more productivity ideas? Try some of the ideas in these tutorials:

Take Your Reading to the Next Level

If you want to get more work done, then speed reading is a must. Whether you're a student, business person, or are someone who has to read a lot of material every day, speed reading will have a huge impact on you. 

By following the techniques in this article, you'll have all the tools necessary to effectively speed read. Speed reading doesn't come naturally to people, so practice and persistence determine how quickly you can read. 

We all want to get more work done and speed reading is such a powerful tool to accomplish this. So, get to practicing your speed reading and be more productive!

Editorial Note: This content was originally published in January 2022. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.

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