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The Seven Steps to Faster Reading

Aug 17, 2007
When attempting to increase the speed at which you read, it is advisable to take the following steps.

1. You pre-read first. Before you begin to read anything you establish your purpose and then give a quick, searching scrutiny. If it is a magazine article, for example, you

A. Read the title and explanatory subheads.

B. Note the author's name.

C. Look at illustrations and read captions.

D. Read any bold-face or italic material, lettered or numbered points, any boxes or graphs.

2. You read in phrases. The speed at which you read a line of type depends directly on the number of stops, or fixations, your eyes make. In a line of twelve words, if your eyes take in only a single word each time they stop they must make twelve fixations. (And some poor readers take in only part of a word at each fixation!). If you widen your recognition span to take in two words, the fixations are cut in half - to six. If your eyes can take in three words at each stop, the fixations are reduced to four! It is obvious that this is one of the first concerns of rapid reading. The more your eyes absorb in each fixation, the more you cut reading time.

3. You concentrate when you read. The greatest impediment to efficient and retentive reading is inattention. Your mind must be fully engaged. You must not let your thoughts wander while your eyes follow the lines of type. Unless you concentrate the eyes do not transmit clear images to the mind.

4. You practice drills of rapid reading. To attain speed you must constantly stretch your performance beyond what is a comfortable pace. To accomplish this goal you must widen your span of recognition. You must also quicken the perception rate at which the mind recognizes and accepts word images from the eyes.

5. You master skipping and skimming. These are skills which all Modern Readers use to get through material quickly. But there is a pattern to both. They are not hap-hazard movements of your eyes over a page of type. The technique is in learning how to skip and skim with confidence that you are missing nothing important.

6. You build your vocabulary. Rapid, efficient reading depends above all else on a wide vocabulary. You cannot read rapidly unless your mind recognizes instantly the images of words and phrases which your eyes transmit. If your vocabulary is limited you must work to build it.

7. You learn to pick your reading speed. You don't drive your car at the same speed all the time. You are guided by the condition of the road, of traffic and the nature of your errand. In the same way, you don't try to race through Shakespeare or an article on astro-physics. You change speeds and gear your pace to what you are reading.

The target is to adjust all your senses to complete involvement in the reading process. You must be alert, absorbed, in a mood to anticipate the author's next words. Your attention must be fully engaged.
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