Ways to improve your reading speed

Being able to read and, most importantly, understand, information quickly is a handy skill to have. It will help make studying for tests more efficient, make it easier to digest important documents, and even help you reach your Goodreads goal for the year! Here are some ways you can learn to read faster.

Time yourself

The best way to start learning to read faster is to see how quickly you currently read. Forbes concludes that the average adult reading speed is 300 words per minute, but you can increase this with some practice and work. Set a timer for a minute and read a set text (one that you don’t already know) and when the timer goes off, see how many words you managed to read. Once you’ve worked on your reading speed for a while, test yourself again and see how much faster you’ve gotten.

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Quiet your mind

It’s not always easy to turn off your inner monologue, especially if you’re reading as we are taught when first learning to read, to sound each word out loud. Often, even though we no longer need to, we still keep the habit of thinking the words aloud as we read them, and as long as you are doing this, you can only ever really read at the speed you can talk. If you find it difficult to turn this feature off, try playing instrumental music through headphones as you read to try and distract your brain.

Work on word-chunking

When you aren’t focusing on thinking about one word at a time, your brain can actually take in a few, which will significantly speed up your reading. Practice by trying to read three words with just one glance and notice how easy it actually is. Another way to work on this skill is to draw two parallel lines down the page, separating the text into three sections vertically. Practice ‘chunking’ the text by holding a piece of paper below the line you are on and moving across the segments. The more you practice this, the quicker and more natural it will become until you don’t need to use the paper or pencil lines anymore.

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Don’t go backward

You might be surprised to note that most people often backtrack on words they’ve read before, without even realizing they are doing it. This is another habit that you need to try and break if you are going to increase your reading speed. As juvenile as it may sound, the best way to do this is to use your finger to guide you along the words. Keep moving and don’t let your finger – or eyes – go back!

As with most things, the more you practice these techniques, the easier and more natural they will become. If you have something that you need to read quickly, try to read in a well-lit environment (yellow light or natural sunlight is best) and aim for the morning when your brain is at its most fresh and alert.