How To Read Word Groups

Besides basic speed reading techniques such as hand pacing and previewing, reading word groups probably offers most benefits for readers. The method skips single word reading in favor of processing bigger chunks of words. This guide helps to learn the technique and will show how to practice and implement word group reading in daily life. It also includes an assignment with instructions, programs and tips.

Benefits reading word groups

Back in school when I learned reading, I was taught to memorize letters and whole words. While reading I focused on a single word, subvovcalized it and moved on to the next one. Unfortunately, I did not learn to move to the next level in school; hence to leave reading single words behind and start recognizing phrases and their meanings.

It would had been a great time saver at Uni.

The greatest benefit is probably to understand main ideas and details faster and more comprehensive. Single words hardly carry any complex information. But in compounds of three or more words each word helps to transport an idea. An example would be “killing two birds with one stone“. Only the whole phrase delivers the image we’re familiar with. More benefits:

  • eases visualization of text
  • synergizes well with hand pacing
  • reduces subvocalization
  • avoids skipping back in text

Basics at a glance

Has it been difficult to read the phrase above as a whole? Don’t worry! Learning to read word groups is a progress through levels.

  • There are prints and apps available to practice word group reading.
  • Beginner levels start from two words; medium level is three to four; advanced level is from five words.
  • By using hand pacing you jump from one word group to the next one.
  • You read as fast as you can while maintaining comprehension.
  • It’s time to level up when processing is faster than hand pacing.

How to read word groups

  • It is recommended to split exercises into three units of 10-15 minutes.
  • Starting out with two words may sound not very challenging, but this level is perfect to get familiar with this reading technique. The brain also needs to learn processing word groups at a glance.
  • When practicing, use your index finger to jump from one group to another.
  • Try landing in the middle of each new word phrase.
  • Go fast, but keep comprehension steady. Slow down if necessary.
  • Beginners should limit their exercises to 10 minutes as eye muscles get tired quickly. There’s a good method to relax your eyes before and after reading.
  • You will still pronounce the words in your head while exercising. Don’t worry, once you level up to four or five words there will be little to no time to do so.
  • There are printable booklets for those exercises. Consider printing them. Rewarding source: Ron Cole (Alchemy Training Unlimited)
  • You can apply other speed reading techniques such as previewing before reading the stories.
  • Try reading each PDF at least once; multiple times would be better. It will ease the learning process as you get to know the stories.

Tip: When I mastered four words I intuitively changed the way I used my index finger to pace myself. I don’t start with the first word, but with the second or third and then jump to next group. I also skip fillers and try to recognize the next logical group before landing.

Material: Learn reading word phrases using PDFs and apps or check links in the sidebars.


  1. Start whenever you like, but stick to a daily habit. Repetition and exercises are the keys to master this technique.
  2. Practice three units of 10-15 minutes daily or adjust them to your needs. 30 minutes are good, 45-60 minutes rock.
  3. You might be interested in the free 21 Days Speed Reading Challenge to give daily practicing a frame.
  4. The page 21 Days Challenge provides PDFs with schedules and learning recourses.
  5. The side navigation to your left provides all links to apps and PDF booklets

Enjoy! If you have questions you can email me or use the comment box for feedback.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0 FlickR / Becky F Title: Collage Sheet-Free to use

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