S is for Speed Reading

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S is for Speed Reading

April 27, 2016 Reading 2

bookshelf-1If I could acquire one realistically achievable skill, that would be effective speed reading. By effective, I mean the ability to not only read faster but to retain and comprehend the material on a level that fits with what I’m doing.

In speed reading challenges, I imagine that speed reading works because of a combination of technique and short-term retention of information. You can skim your eyes over the words and keep the information handy for a short space of time. I see that as the sort of thing that would prove useful for passing exams or getting by during a pub quiz.

What I want would be the sort of speed reading that would allow me to get through a lot of material and retain the information long term. It doesn’t have to be thorough retention of information; I could do with having the sort of grasp that means I get the essentials and know where to look if I have to take it further. Sort of like an executive summary and reference link.

The key element comes down to the speed. I tried to learn speed reading before and I did get some benefit from it. For a time, I found I could read about 100 words per minute faster than before I tried the technique. However, the material took the method further and in practice, and with practice, I should have achieved a doubling of speed or more.

If I could read 500 words a minute, I would be happy. Right now, I think I figure somewhere half of that on average. It would be a holy grail to get closer to 1,000 words per minute, but that would be brilliant for handling the low retention, short-term stuff that sometimes matters most when you have something to prepare for and don’t really need to know what it was in a months time!

I will make it an aim to return to the technique and try again, looking for a steady increase rather than just feeling satisfied with early results. Practice makes perfect – and making the quantum leap to tripled or quadrupled speeds would be remarkable and really useful.


2 Responses

  1. Mandy says:

    I’ve always thought speed reading would be helpful for getting more information on a topic or getting through a book more quickly, but I’ve never taken the time to learn. Actually, I’m not even really sure where to look for lessons?

    Question: how do you know how many words per minute you are reading? Do you go back and count them? Is there an online program that counts or estimates that number for you?

    And does speed reading work for all reading? Or is it better for, say, online reading … or book reading?

    I’d love to hear more about your experience delving into the world of speed reading and how it improves/takes away from the actual reading experience.

    • Paul B says:

      The process for speed reading will work for any reading. You guide your eyes with a pointer. The focus can be any words – page or screen.

      Measuring progress involved reading a section of fixed length and then recording time taken to read. Divide length by time to read and you get the Words per Minute.

      The method I studied aimed to improve speed while retaining comprehension. The idea is that you shouldn’t lose anything by enhancing your reading speed.

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