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How to speed read a book

Most students complain that they do not have time to read everything that is expected of them.

This is undoubtedly true and it is necessary to be selective about what we read.

We must read the most important texts thoroughly and maybe just skim read the remainder so that we understand what information is contained in them.

Even when we have pared down the amount we have to read, it will still be important to read quickly, so how can we improve our average reading speed?

Here are a few things you can do to read more quickly.

Get comfortable. If you are relaxed when you sit down to read, your level of comprehension will improve and your reading speed will increase when you understand what you are reading.

Read with a purpose. Decide what questions you want to answer from reading this particular text and ignore sections that do not add to this answer.

Focus on groups of words rather than on each individual word. This will mean that your eyes will be jumping along the lines, resting on a few words at a time so that you understand the sense of the text without even seeing some of the words.

By doing this the number of times that your eyes pause and fix on a word will reduce and will make the reading task quicker.

With practice, you will find that not only do you get better at this but also you will stop noticing many of the smaller, ‘joining word’ such as ‘and’, ‘the’, ‘but’ or ‘because’.

This will not affect the meaning of the sentences too much.

Notice words that will give you a clue as to the direction of the argument. Words such as ‘however’, ‘although’ and ‘nevertheless’ signal that a change of ideas is imminent while words such as ‘also’, ‘moreover’ or ‘in addition’ let you know that the argument is being developed.

A conclusion is usually signaled with words like ‘consequently’, ‘to sum up’, ‘therefore’, ‘thus’ and, of course, ‘in conclusion’.

Use a guide. Moving your finger fairly quickly down the page (just keep your finger on one side of the text and move straight down – don’t try to track every word as this will usually have the effect of slowing you down) can help you not only to keep your place in the text but also will speed you up as you try to keep pace with your finger. You could also try using a sheet of paper as a tracker.

Move your eyes forward continually. Lingering on a word or group of words will slow you down and interrupt your rhythm. Also going back in the text to check something that you might not quite have caught will slow you down considerably, so you will have to resist this temptation.

Don’t move your lips! Many people say the words to themselves as they read – or even read out loud – but this, too, will slow you down.

Practise. Spend some time every day reading as fast as you can and you will soon improve your average speed.

Improving your reading speed is essential to effective study so this is something that you should pay particular attention to.

However, sometimes reading slowly is necessary too. It is not desirable to race through every bit of information that you are given to read as sometimes you will need to read more carefully than speed reading allows.

This could include when you are reading a text with detailed instructions or really densely packed information. It would also include situations where you are required to closely analyse texts.

So, work hard at increasing your average reading speed but remember that there will be times when it is more appropriate to read slowly.

You may be in the habit of quickly assessing the information in a text by checking the beginning and end and running your eye over the text. This is not speed reading, it is skimming. This is a very useful skill to have and a brief introduction to skim reading can be found here

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