Tips to increase your reading speed
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Anyone that has been taken a class with me or has been friends with me long enough will be able to tell you that I read very quickly. Generally, on average, I can read 75 to 100 pages an hour depending on the complexity of the language. This has been hugely advantageous for my education as an English major. While most students were struggling to catch up on all the readings come final essay time, I was sitting pretty, reviewing my notes and saved quotations, trying to figure out what my thesis would be.
I never took a class or did any sort of group activity that magically made me quicker at reading. For me, it was simply a matter of practice—but there are a couple tips I have that will increase your reading speed slightly. Maybe even enough so you can get to bed on time for that 8 a.m. class.
You don’t need to read, to read
Your brain is hardwired to re-organized things in a way that logically makes sense based on context. That’s why many speed readers train themselves to only look at the first and last letter in a word, and not actually read the entire word. Your brain will fill in the blank space based off the size and the subject matter of what you’re reading. You can basically do the same thing for sentences and even paragraphs, it just takes practice and precursory knowledge of what the subject matter is. I don’t recommend doing this for every paragraph in a book, or every article you come across in your studies—save it for the ones that you find a little boring.
The interest-to-speed correlation
If you find something you’re reading interesting, you’ll read faster. Whether it’s because you are less aware of the time passing, or because reading becomes less of a chore when you like the subject matter, interest equates speed. For this reason, be aware of where your interests lie, and plan your readings accordingly. If you’re in the process of reading a book and you don’t find a particular character or scene that compelling, use the first tip to scan through it until you’ve returned to a part you like. This same tip can be used for academic readings. Separate your readings by what initially interests you and be aware that you’ll probably get through those parts faster, while the less interesting stuff might be more of a slog. In tackling the interesting parts first, you might also be able to find an angle through which you can increase your interest in the rest—thus making it easier for you to finish quickly.
Speed reading is all well and good, but it means very little if you don’t comprehend any of what you just read. Comprehension is what allows us to retain information—so above all else, my biggest tip to becoming a faster reader is to make sure you comprehend what you’re reading. This will save you from having to read the same line over and over again. Even I am still guilty of sometimes scan-reading too much. I will then hit a part that catches me off-guard, and I’ll have to go back in the book to try and figure out what that part is referring to. Limiting your use of the first tip to a few sentences at a time can actually prevent this. Scanning paragraphs are fine, entire pages not so much.