How many of us wish we had known how to speed read back in high school when the teacher assigned a book report over the winter holiday break? Although reading is fundamental in the process of learning, many students end up feeling overwhelmed at the number of assignments they have to attend to, making this a tedious task. Looking at a book of well over two or three- hundred pages can feel exasperating. What students see is hours of work that could be spent test prepping or doing an extracurricular activity. The feeling is not any better when it is time to take the SAT or ACT, and the clock is ticking. That is one time when speed reading can surely come to save the day.

Dual route model

Speed Reading Is a Gift 

One of the greatest gifts that any parent can give to their child or any teacher can provide to their students is the ability to speed read, once they have become active readers. Once taught speed reading, the child would be able to speed read for the remainder of their lives. A skill that would result in positive experiences not only at school but also in their college and professional life as well.

For someone who can speed read, the book report project or the standardized testing is not such a burden. The main reason is that instead of spending days reading the book and researching the material, they will spend considerably less time with those tasks; so much less time than it could translate to hours or even in some cases minutes. So, if you find yourself drowning in a sea of unread papers, or feel frustrated because you cannot keep up with your reading assignments, speed reading might be a way out. The good news is that if you are committed and do the work, you can develop your speed-reading program at home in no time. Speed Reading Test Online.

Speed Reading is not One Size Fits All

Now, before attempting to practice, please consider the possibility that speed reading might not fit all reading material. Science, for example, is substantial. Science is profound. It requires thinking and visualizing. Science deserves slow, careful, and measured reading and rereading.

The same way you’d read Shakespeare:

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“You are too absolute; Though therein you can never be too noble, 

  But when extremities speak. 

          I have heard you say, 

     Honor and policy, like unsecured fiends, 

    I’th’war do grow together. 

    Grant that, and tell me.  

    In peace what each of them by th’other”


OR try an excerpt from Quantum Fuzz by Michael S. Walker:

“Another property of each state (Angular momentum) that results from the solution of Schrodinger’s equation is the state’s angular momentum. Angular momentum tends to keep a rotating object rotating or moving in a circular or elliptical motion, just as linear momentum tends to keep an object moving at its same speed and in its same direction. While Schrodinger’s s probability-cloud cross-sections don’t rotate or spin, the states that they represent nevertheless have spatial-state angular momentum that is indicated by the letters above the cross-section.

Still awake?

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If you want to improve your reading speed, where should you start? The first step is to determine what your current reading speed is.  Find some reading material to practice with, such as an article in a magazine, or use a chapter of a book. Set a timer for a short period, such as five or ten minutes. Start reading at your regular speed, and see how far you can get in the time allotted. 

Do not try to read faster or slower than average; the object here is to find out what your regular reading speed is. When the time is finished, mark the page, so you know exactly how far you read. You will need to count how many words you read in this amount of time.

 Now, using the same article, set the timer again for the same number of minutes. Start at the point in your article where you left off the last time. Do not reread the same material that you have just finished. This time, concentrate on reading much faster than you did the first time. 

I know it is easier said than done. Notice that as you read, even though you are reading in your head, you can still hear your voice reading. The process is called subvocalization. Subvocalization is the primary reason why we end up reading slow. Although we practice silent reading, we read by using our voices. For this experiment, do not worry about the fact that you are subvocalizing. Go as fast as you can while still taking in every word and maintaining your comprehension. Calculate your reading speed and compare it to your first effort. Did your score improve? Try again, striving to read even faster without sacrificing comprehension.  

If your performance has measurably improved, notice whether you feel relaxed or tense. Are you telling yourself that reading fast is hard? Many of the roadblocks you face in going more quickly are mental, in your mind, and can be changed.

Just a fun fact here: if you read 787 words per minute, that makes you 215% faster than the average national reader.

Bad Habits Die Hard

 Many people have developed bad reading habits that slow them down. See if you make any of the following errors. When you read, do you read word for word? Or do you sweep your eyes across phrases and sentences? Trying to take in every single word will slow you down and even interfere with your comprehension. Why? Because in the English language, the meaning of sentences is built up from groups of words, from the way phrases and clauses are put together. Halting at every single word can keep you from absorbing the meaning of the entire sentence. You can take in the meaning of a sentence better by using your eyes to sweep across phrases and clauses, rather than slowing down to take in each word separately. Although some consider subvocalization to be a habit, it is a natural process of the brain. Many young children who are just learning to read will sound out syllables and words to themselves. Perhaps that is how you learned reading at first, too. Many of us continue to do this even as adults making this a habit. The habit of subvocalization is a drag on your potential reading speed. Your brain can take in and process information much faster than you can subvocalize. You can look at printed information and have it enter directly into the mind without moving your lips or sounding out the words in your head. If you have sounded out the words in your account while you read, you will not be reading at your optimal level. From now on, consciously make an effort to “absorb” the meaning of the passage from the printed page without hearing the words spoken in your mind. Look at the passage as a whole, and when you begin reading, use the help of a writing instrument to point at each word. Drag the pen or pencil along the sentence and force your eyes to follow along. The eyes are designed to follow and not to lead. Therefore, the usage of a pen or a pencil will be necessary to simply force the eye to follow the lead. 

Another unfavorable habit that slows down the reading speed is going back and rereading a line or phrase every time you think you may have missed a word. In many cases, going back to read the line does not improve comprehension. Merely eliminating this one harmful habit could double your reading speed! Consciously practicing and making an effort to keep on reading, refusing to backtrack until it becomes second nature for you. Most people, when reading, will sweep their eyes across each line of print from left to right. Once at the end of the line at the right, the eyes jump to the beginning of the next line at the left. This is not always necessary, and it will slow any reader down. If you are reading columns that are not very wide, you may not need to sweep your eyes across every line from left to right. Practice looking at the center of the lines, and move your eyes down the column of print. See if you can still take in the meaning of the entire line this way. How can you tell if you still understand the material when you increase your reading speed? How do you know if you are missing something important? Getting through an article faster is of little benefit if you don’t understand most of it, or if you miss some vital points. Every time you finish an exercise to improve your reading speed, ask yourself: What was the main topic in the article? What were the supporting arguments presented?

Write down what you understood and can remember. Then go back and read the original more slowly and carefully. Check it against what you have remembered. Were you correct in your understanding of what the article was conveyed? Did you understand most of the main points? 

Did you miss anything important? Keep track of how your reading scores change over time. With practice, you should be able to significantly improve your reading speed while maintaining the right level of comprehension.

Stay relaxed and confident while you practice. Retraining your eyes and brain may require a committed effort on your part, but the results will be worth it in terms of gaining reading speed. Speed reading can be a useful skill even for landing a job. I once knew a person who got a newspaper job while in law school as a news sub for wire stories. All he had to do is to read and select stories for publication. The reading window for each wire story on the workstation was less than 10 seconds. Now, there isn’t a person who doesn’t know what 10 seconds feels like–a sneeze. It is just enough time to scan the information, but in many cases, that’s what editors have to do.

Becoming a Speed Reading Savant 

So, as you can see, there is much more about speed reading than only reading fast or faster than the guy next door. Reading magazines and periodicals, textbook material, and just reading literature, in general, to try to crush the boundaries every day is what will make this fun and useful. It might give you an edge when least expected — like, using it to speed read many different books in college and speed reading highly complex books by philosophers like Edmund Husserl, Franz Brentano, Martin Heidegger, and Gottlob Frege. Eventually, speed reading will not be the means to the end, but developing more and more techniques to speed read those books and gain more knowledge overall.

No doubt, becoming a speed reader is possible with little to no assistance. It is a skill that gives a significant boost in confidence and, once mastered, can last a lifetime, can save time, and can even be taught to others.

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  1. read every day for a minimum of 20 min
  2. block subvocalization
  3. train visual span (peripheral vision), read 2–3 words at one glance
  4. train memory
  5. train vocabulary (you should recognize words fast)
  6. train the brain by brain games (for example, Lumosity and Readlax more for speed reading training