Anyone who wants to speed read must first understand some of the basic concepts behind speed reading. One of the most important of these is “eye fixation” – the way that eyes move and stop on words that you read. A reader is able to read faster if the eye makes a fewer number of fixations per minutes, as the ability to absorb more words is significantly higher.
Eye fixation is a physiological process that occurs naturally, and you can increase you reading speed by ensuring that fewer numbers of eye fixations are required for reading a particular sentence. Several factors impact the rate of eye fixation, including vocabulary, familiarity with the text, and vision span.
Vision span is positively correlated to eye fixation. A wider vision span usually allows individuals to speed read with relative ease. A reader with a narrow vision vision is likely to read a sentence in several fixations, with only one or two words being read in a single fixation. Conversely, any individual that is able to see several words simultaneously is likely to report a higher reading speed as fewer fixations are required. Read more about rapid eye fixation.
There are two reasons for the greater speed; first, since more words are read in one fixation, the eyes can move more quickly through the sentence. Second, the reader is able to comprehend the text with relative ease because the sentence is read in terms of phrases rather than words. Reading phrases is likely to allow an individual to better understand the underlying meaning of the sentence, which eliminates the need to re-read sentences, something that also slows down reading speed.
Eye fixation is also connected to vocabulary, simply because someone with an extensive vocabulary is likely to read at a faster speed. For example, if you are unfamiliar with medical terminology, you will undoubtedly be slower at reading a journal article talking about new laboratory procedures or cancer treatments. This is because you will not recognize many of the vocabulary words, and your eyes and brain will automatically focus on these individual words, increasing your eye fixations.
An individual is likely to read faster through a text that contains words that are already in their vocabulary. This is because the words are familiar. If your brain recognizes and automatically provides the definitions for words, you will need fewer eye fixations to comprehend the text. Because of this, an individual with an extensive vocabulary can speed read much more easily than someone with a limited vocabulary. Expanding your vocabulary skills can therefore be of critical importance if you want to boost your reading speed.
Familiarity with the Topic
Fewer eye fixations are required when you are reading a topic that is within your area of expertise or if you are already knowledgeable about the subject. As explained above, one reason for this is because you are likely to recognize the terminology and vocabulary used within the text. Another reason is that you will understand the concepts, and won’t have to re-read passages to get the sense of the document.
Lastly, an individual’s background, education, and interest in reading also significantly impact the ability to speed read. Speed reading not only gives readers the skill to read an extensive range of books and journals, it encourages them to read even more. You can enhance your knowledge and vocabulary through reading, which will ultimately result in fewer eye fixations per sentence. This ability will allow you to achieve your speed reading goal with ease.