Increase Reading Speed and Comprehension in 5 Steps

Click to read the article on reading speed and comprehensionI like articles that come as a quick snap of how to do something. So, today we look at five important steps to increase reading speed and comprehension. You may click the image further down to enlarge the mind map providing extra information for each point. Please leave a comment to discuss any questions or suggestions!


Steps to increase reading speed and comprehension

1. Preview and scan material
2. Recall or parrot key ideas
3. Speed read material; use pointer
4. Embody new knowledge; use notes or visualization
5. Review and deepen your knowledge

1. Previewing
The first step is the backbone to increase reading speed and comprehension. I preview every article I want to read to learn more about the main idea. Depending on the text I either scan for numbers, names or trigger words. I use my finger as a pointer tool to quickly scan the page in a zig-zag mode. I look at headlines, images or overview diagrams.

2. Recalling and parroting
Now, as I have retrieved the main idea it’s time to jot down the key ideas. Sometimes I brainstorm a list of ideas or create a mind map. Often I just call them out loud or vocalize the ideas in my head. I can ask questions such as Who, What, Where, Why and How to understand the bigger picture. What ever you may choose it will be the right way to complete the previewing step.

3. Speed reading and using a pointer
As soon as the main topic is clear we either make our decision to read the text or skip it and move on. That’s the purpose of previewing – to assess the value of any material. Hence, previewing will help to increase reading speeds as we only read what’s valuable and save our time.

When I speed read I use my finger as a pointer tool to keep my eyes focused and to actually speed up. If you are familiar with reading chunks of words you can hop through the text or use different reading patterns. I know it will be hard sometimes, but skipping back in text will slow you down. So please resist and just keep reading to collect more details. Remember, you already know the main idea.  Everything will come together.

Increase Reading Speed and Comprehension: Click to enlarge the image

4. Embodying and extending notes
After reading the text it’s time for another round of note taking. For short articles jotting down a few notes will probably enough. To extract extensive knowledge and keep it over a longer period, we can either write the information down in a mind map, communicate ideas to a friend, hook up a few emotions, try acting the content to experience it, visualize it or use different memory techniques. You may now realize speed reading is cross-linking to a bunch of other skills that could be learned too.

5. Reviewing and deepening knowledge
Repetition is an efficient method to transfer new knowledge into the long-term memory. The key is to have a pool of notes available for re-reading. I use a free software called Evernote to save notes for reviewing. You can also clip entire articles to read them again.

I apply all speed reading steps again to deepen my knowledge. I do a quick scan, ask simple questions, speed read again and recall the main ideas. By the way, in terms of speed reading I’m creating this free online reference to come back whenever I want. Writing is a good way to deepen one’s knowledge.

Remember, repetition is important. To increase reading speed and comprehension consider to…

  • change bad reading habits
  • stop to subvocalize
  • avoid skipping back in text
  • use peripheral vision to increase information intake
  • learn reading groups of words
  • use a pointer to pick up pace
  • use reading patterns
  • apply name or number scans when previewing
  • create mind maps or
  • apply visualization techniques or
  • use affirmation methods to embed new knowledge.

Further reading: Guide To Fast Reading Techniques | Speed Reading Software | Articles from other websites

What are your techniques to increase reading speed and comprehension? Please, let me know in the comment box below.

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  1. Steven says

    Nice mindmap. Did you create it yourself? I’m a fan of mind maps, and I printed yours and pinned it to my noteboard. Its great to have those in front of you. I’m just starting with speed reading, and found your tips very valuable. Keep them coming. Thanks.

  2. Michael_hun says

    If you would like to speed up reading, use hooks in every row. First hook at 25% of row width, second at 50%, third at 75%. Just point your eyes at first hook to see the words in your sight, then move to the next hook. Never use more hooks and never look back.

    If you are reading on your monitor, try to set the text width to cover all words in a row width three hooks on a row. Just adjust the browser width, the pdf reader window width, text editor or whatever you use. It’s hard to read a column covering your entire monitor width, and is impossible to read fast.

    When you become confortable with three hooks, then use only two in a row, first at 25%, the second at 75%. Adjust the column width accordingly. Your eyes will move like a pendulum, left-right, left-right and so on.

    If you would like to try something cool, then try to read every second row backward. Read the first row, then return on the second row, but backward. Then the third row forward, the forth backward again, and so on.

    Reading 500-600 words per minute is quite common, 1200 is possible too. Just think how many book you could read in your lifetime. There are a drawback too – when you got an interesting book, and you finish it in three hours. You won’t see the words anymore, but you will see the movie your brain will compile in real time from your book. Man, is wonderful to be a speed reader.

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