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Learn How To Speed Read

Mar 2, 2008
The art of speed reading is quite easy to learn. Most of us don't read much faster "in our heads" than we do out loud. Here are some ways for you to learn speed reading and still comprehend at least as much as when you read at your old speed.

Start by timing how fast it takes you to read. This isn't an exact science. Reading this on a computer screen will likely take you longer than if you were reading it from a sheet of paper. Newspapers will give you a different reading speed from books. So don't get obsessed about your precise reading speed. But do jot down approximately how long a thousand words takes you to read at the moment so you'll know when they system works.

1. Stop the distractions
Despite what your local teenager will tell you, loud music doesn't normally help the speed you read at. Background noises may or may not disrupt you - television is almost always an issue. even with the sound turned off, you get distracted by the bright moving images.

2. Don't re-read everything
Chances are, you go back over things when you don't need to. It's a rare book that doesn't repeat itself, so there's no need to go back over something you've just read. If you missed it first time round, it will likely crop up again soon.

3. Stop moving your lips
Depending on how long you've been doing this, it could take a while. If you move your lips while you read, you'll be reading at about the same pace you read out loud. Which is pretty slow compared with how fast you can read without moving your lips.

4. Use your fingers to keep place
I know, it looks like you're just starting to read. But following along the words with your fingers helps you keep your place and stops you going back over things as often. You can also subtly adjust the speed your finger moves to help speed up your reading.

5. All words are not equal
A dry text book full of long, complicated words will slow your reading speed down versus the latest novel from your favorite author. So don't panic if your reading speed varies according to what you're reading. This is natural.

6. Only read important stuff
OK, this includes novels if you want. But don't read a whole chapter on the origins of quantum physics if all you really wanted was some brief information about a specific item. Nothing says you have to read a whole book (well, OK, your English teacher would differ on this point) unless you really want to. Skim the table of contents and just read the parts of the book that are relevant. And check the book is still within it's use-by date unless you want out of date information. The copyright date is a good clue on this.

7. Over time, read clumps of words
As you get better at speed reading, do your best to take in more than one word at a time. And start skipping all the "filler" words that make up so much of the text.
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