Double Your Reading Speed Now
©1989, C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
Do you read fast enough? Do you need
an edge to satisfy the reading demands this "Information Age" has placed
upon most of us? Would it help you to double your reading speed right now?
One of my favorite tricks when I was teaching Psychology of Learning to
graduate students was to offer them "Dr. Clarke's Two-Minute Course in
Speed-Reading." I'd give them a timed reading test before, tell them the
first technique I'm about to tell you. Then I'd time them while they first
practiced the technique. Everyone improved their time immediately while
learning the technique. You will, too.
O.K., here's the secret of how to double your reading speed, right now,
quick and dirty.
First, if you are reading this on the web page, stop and take
a moment to print this article in hard
copy. Then, grab a standard size bookmark (most are 8" x 2" or 6" x 1 1/2")
or fold a sheet of paper to that size. Now, while reading the rest of this
article (and from now on, everything else you read) place the bookmark
lengthwise across the page with the lower edge immediately above the line of text you are currently reading. As you finish reading a line,
pull the bookmark down to cover that line.
What that does for you, and why it will help you read twice as
fast is just this simple: it prevents your eyes from backtracking and you
from re- reading something you've already seen. Almost everyone has a tendency
to re-read, and about half your potential speed is lost in that one habit.
Prevent the habit and double your speed instantly!
But that's not all. Having that mark in place helps you focus
both your eyes and your attention on the line you are reading. Having a
focus will additionally increase your speed. (Furthermore, you can gradually
push yourself to even faster reading by moving the bookmark over the line
just a little before you've actually finished the line, encouraging your
eyes to move a bit faster than your norm. That technique, however is best
used after learning to read word groups -- our second speed-increasing
After breaking your backtracking habit, you may want to go further.
An additional increase in speed can be made by learning to see words in
groups. Have you ever noticed that it's easier to read magazine and newspaper
articles than most books? This is because the text is in columns and the
lines are so much shorter that you can see an entire line at a glance.
When lines are longer as in, say, a novel, you are likely to become discouraged
by that length and break down the line to individual words to read one
at a time.
To learn to read word groups instead of individual words, use
magazines and newspapers with the bookmark technique. This time, though,
you're going to do some surgery on the bookmark. Cut a hole in the center
of the bookmark; make that hole 1 line high and about three words long
-- just measure an average column in a magazine or newspaper for height
and length. Then, when you read, place the hole in the bookmark over the
words you are reading and move the bookmark from left to right as you read
the line, then down to the beginning of the next line. This should help
you to focus on groups of three words at a time, rather than one word at
a time and should automatically shortens the lines for you so that you
don't feel pushed to try for a whole line at a time until you are ready.
You can cut gradually bigger holes in your bookmark to adjust your ability
to its maximum. Obviously, the same hole-in-the-bookmark technique will
work as well -- or better -- with books. I recommend starting with newspapers
and magazines because you can quickly learn to read an entire line at a
glance, which is a great confidence builder.
If you have trouble with grouping words, check to see if you are
subvocalizing -- reading word by word because you are reading with your
lips instead of your eyes. Put your finger on your lips as you read --
if your lips move, you are subvocalizing. Also, listen to your thoughts
as you read -- can you "hear" each word articulated rather than seeing
pictures without even noticing actual words? If you do find you are subvocalizing,
break the habit by keeping a finger on your lips whenever your read, for
about three weeks. That should do the trick.
The foregoing techniques, combined with lots of reading practice
should give you an amazing increase in speed. If you become an enthusiast
and want more, by all means take a course or read the books recommended
in the sidebar to the right. It really is true that you can learn to read
in excess of 1000 words per minute. Considering that the national average
reading speed is 250 words per minute, you can see the advantages of being
able to do so much more.
Improving Reading Speed & Comprehension:
(Click on the underlined titles to go buy these books at Amazon.com.)
Wood 7 Day Speed Reading & Learning Program. by Stanley
D. Frank. This is the entire course in a nutshell. One of my favorite
Reading by Tony Buzan. While Stanley Frank's book focuses
on the techniques peculiar to the Evelyn Wood program, Tony Buzan's gives
a variety of techniques. For a really complete self-guided study
in reading speed and comprehension improvement, I recommend you get both.
The feedback I've received on recommending these books
is that everyone who has bought them so far has been delighted.
More Articles About Improving
Reading Speed & Comprehension:
Suggestions for Improving
Reading Speed Helpful advice from Virginia Tech.
Speed Reading Related
Websites links on the Internet This is a page on selfgrowth.com
with links to speed reading sites as well as to several speed reading articles
written for the selfgrowth site.
Free Home Study Course in Speed Reading:
Road To Reading Home Non-profit organization offers free reading improvement course.
Wow. I haven't tried it yet, but the price is great. When I have time I'll
get a copy and review it.
Software for Improving Reading Speed
StepWare, Inc. - Creator of AceReader
Speed Reading Software. Very nice software for improving
reading speed. I tried out the demo myself. Free demo available.
Reasonably priced full version. Both PC and Mac supported.