The Hand Pacing Technique
This simple technique involves something many of us learned as school children, but mostly discarded as we got older: the pointer method. This method, invented by the pioneer of speed reading, Evelyn Wood, involves sliding the index finger across the page below the sentence you are reading, which can greatly increase your focus and reading pace.
Using your finger as a pointer is one of the fastest ways to learn how to speed read. You can read more about hand pacing here.
Reading Speed Test
To be able to judge which techniques work best for you, you will first need a basis of comparison. There’s a simple way to do this yourself, manually. You can also find tests online, however in this post we’ll examine the manual test.
To test manually, simply use a stopwatch with a second hand, and time how quickly you read certain material. For example:
- take a book and choose a paragraph
- time yourself to see how long it takes you to completely read it
- count the number of words you have just read
Remember to read at your normal speed, to get the most accurate results. Additionally, choosing paragraphs on several different pages of your book will give you a more accurate time gauge. Use these results as your starter time comparison to measure your improvement rate as you try other techniques.
Scanning and Previewing Strategies
This how-to-speed-read technique enables you to quickly identify the main idea and important information of what you are reading. You can learn to scan for trigger words, names, or numbers, and also to speedily identify important key sentences.
By scanning such items as titles, subheadings, indexes, and lists, you can quickly garner the gist of a body of work, before you get into the details.
For more in-depth information about previewing strategies, go here.
Reverse Bad Reading Habits
This is a very important thing to learn, in order to increase your reading efficiency. As we develop, many of us can pick up bad reading habits that slow us down when it comes to our speed of reading, processing, and comprehending text.
Some things are easier to overcome, such as skipping back (rereading passages without need), reading in an unsuitable environment (one that is loud or distracting, or that has poor lighting), or reading while tired.
Other habits, such as loss of attention or vocalization/sub-vocalization (pronouncing words orally or mentally) can be overcome, but take time and practice to be effectively dampered.
This subject of overcoming bad reading habits is covered more in-depth on our website. The University of Alabama’s Center for Academic Success also has a simple list of how to correct some of these bad habits.
Word Group Reading Techniques
For many people, this is the most beneficial of techniques, but also hardest one when learning how to speed read.
Word group reading involves skipping single, individual word reading in favor of processing larger groupings of words, and minimizing the number of “stops” your eyes perform as you read.
This quicker reading of word groupings leads to an increase in the comprehension of compound ideas, and thus, to being able to grasp the meaning of what you are reading with greater speed.
To get started visit this article on reading chunks of words. It provides essential tips and training material.
Fastreading.com has another great in-depth and well-written article on this technique, titled “Speed Reading Techniques: Reading Groups of Words”.
Relax and Train Your Eye Muscles
Just like an athlete needs constant training to develop and define the muscles used in their sport, so too does the speed reader need their eye muscles to be in top form. As with any of the body’s muscles, the muscles of the eye will benefit from proper care and training.
Your eye muscles can tire quickly, making reading more difficult, so it is important to give the eye plenty of rest in between intensive reading sessions, so as not to strain the muscles. With time and training, you can develop these muscles to not tire as rapidly.
Here are some helpful tips and a video to relax and train your eye muscles:
Now that you have learned some traditional techniques to try on your own, we will discuss some helpful software to assist you further.
How To Speed Read Using Software
Software is used to effectively re-train the brain for speed reading. Guided reading exercises, speed tests, and repetition methods to eliminate bad habits are some great benefits to using software. Software also generally enables you to monitor your progress with some ease.
The following are some software programs that have been found by many to be helpful and effective.
Ace Reader Elite
This excellent software contains a full 13 levels of evaluation and over 250 leveled reading comprehension tests, as well as leveled eye pacing drills and eye exercises, and graphical progress monitoring. You can also add your own text to the program and there are adjustable settings to control the speed of the texts and of the tests.
Proposed training sessions should cover approximately 15 to 25 minutes per session.
This software is currently priced at $79.95, and there is a free trial available. Click here to visit the product page.
7 Speed Reading
7 is the magic number in the 7 Speed Reading product, as it both refers to the time per day it requires to learn (the site touts only seven minutes per day), plus the software’s seven varying learning strategies, to accommodate people’s natural learning styles. It instructs users on learning practical skills in a fun and interactive manner.
The software features 15 activities that can remove your bad reading habits, as well as video training, advanced progress tracking, and comprehensive step-by-step modules. Additionally, it comes with Wiki-Connect technology, which enables you to complete exercises using material from Wiki sites (such as Wikipedia, Wiki-Books, or Wiki University), and it also includes over 600 complete e-books for all reading levels.
This software is currently priced at $79.95. Click here to visit the website.
One of the more popular free online speed reading programs, Spreeder is geared towards improving your reading speed and comprehension. It is, in fact, a division of 7 Speed Reading (see above). This software utilizes a video style to practice your skills, and allows you to paste your own text, set your words per minute, and how many words you want to practice.
Eye-Hop™ by Alchemy Training Unlimited
This software teaches you to read word groups, and is formatted for use both offline and on print outs. This is a good program for those who are more comfortable reading in a physical format, as opposed to off of a computer screen.
It offers four PDF files for download, and each PDF comes complete with instructions, found at the end of the file. It allows you to set your own pace before progressing to the next level. The site also includes a link that allows you to “hopify” your own text.
Hopefully, the tips, techniques, and suggestions contained in this article help show you how to speed read in no time. For more in-depth information, please feel free to browse our website speedreadingtechniques.org for additional articles and features.