The reason people read is to process the text to comprehend the intended meaning of the piece of writing. Meaning reading is more than just going over a series of words. Most speed reading is done in a way where people skim over the words quickly but lose out on comprehension. There are useful methods in speed reading to find a balance between skimming and still gaining an adequate understanding. The average adult reads at a rate of about 200 – 400 words a minute (WMP), speed readers claim that they can read into the 1000’s words a minute.
Speed readers say they utilize peripheral vision. Acuity is highest in the part of the eye called the fovea, which is almost directly in the middle of the eyeball. The fovea cannot interpret words outside of its primary focus. It’s impossible to focus on one word and try to read the surrounding text with peripheral vision. Reading is limited by your ability to identify and understand terms rather than your ability to see them. Meaning, reading faster will have a reduction in incomprehension.
There are various speed-reading techniques people can learn far more than just the benefit of reading quicker. If you want to read a fiction novel or other material faster for enjoyment, a slower method may be better than a faster one. If you are reading a textbook for school or reading research papers/journals, and or to understand the science, a slower speed method works best. There are different ways to read depending on the goal of what the reader’s intentions are. Here is what the science says are the most effective reading techniques:
- Once your goal is determined, it will help you figure out the balance between how fast you want to read and how much you want to comprehend. If you’re reading for fun, you don’t need as much comprehension allowing you to read faster. Where reading a scientific paper or textbook will require more comprehension, thus lowering the reader’s speed.
- You have to be prepared to adjust your reading speed appropriately as there will be segments easily digestible where the reader can fly through them. When it is more challenging, like learning new concepts and ideas, the reader will be forced to slow down to understand the meaning of the word. You will be changing your speed at which you read moment to moment. It’s important to remember the first and last sentences of a paragraph hold the most value and information. If you get lost in a middle of a paragraph, try focusing more on comprehending the first and last sentences.
- Use a pacer like your finger or a pen. Run the pacer below each line from end-to-end, well, having your eyes follow it along. Doing this pacer technique alone will enhance your reading speed and comprehension simultaneously. The idea is to find the Goldie Locks zone or the sweet spot to push your comfort zone boundaries, well losing minimal comprehension.
Tips for Reading Textbooks:
- Pre-read section headings, bold terms, and vocabulary terms to save time in the long run.
- Skip paragraphs or entire sections that are not of importance.
- Focus on bolded words and sections, as well as surrounding context.
- It’s a good idea to stop after a page or a section to paraphrase it in your own words for a much higher retention rate. Writing it out in point form, or explaining it to a classmate and or friend, even saying it out loud to yourself will allow for a higher retention rate as well.
Tips for Reading Research Articles:
- Read over the Abstract carefully and slowly to get the point of what the paper is about to know where to allocate your time.
- Make a predetermined goals when approaching each sections.
- Skim the Intro, Methods, and Results sections to get the brief points.
- Spend the majority of the time on the Discussion/Conclusion section.
Tips for Reading for Fun like fiction:
- If you want to enjoy a novel, slow down a bit.
- Speed up to get to the main points of the story.
- Reading for pleasure has no right or wrong speed; it is up to the person reading.