Learn to Speed Read in Three Easy Steps

1 minute read

You are probably reading too slow.

The good news? It’s really easy to learn to read faster. Just use these three simple techniques (loosely adopted from the Speed Reading For Dummies Cheat Sheet and Tim Ferriss’ Guide to Speed Reading):

  1. Stop reading out loud. This only slows you down; you can read much faster than you can speak.

  2. When you read, you probably are regressing – instead of moving on to the next word, your eyes are moving backwards and reading the same words over and over again.

    To fix this, take a pen or pencil, and underline the text as you read it. (You can use your finger if you aren’t comfortable writing on text.) This will force your eyes to only move forward when you read.

  3. Now that you’ve mastered step one, you aren’t wasting time going backwards. Unfortunately, you still are reading text one word at a time. To move forward, you will need to read at least five words in one glance.

    To read really fast, you should divide the text you’re reading into sections of about five words long. When you read, glance at the section and as quickly as possible move on to the next. You will be surprised at how fast you go.

    To help explain this concept and to give you some practice, I’ve taken the text of a book and superimposed two lines on it. Read the below text, and when you do, don’t read word by word; point your eyes at the red lines in the middle of the text and use your peripheral vision to read groups of five or so words. Remember to move as quickly as you can; your eyes should only point at one line for about half a second before moving on to the next.

    If you're using a screen reader, then none of this advice is useful to you.

    You should be surprised at how fast you can read using this technique.

Be sure to time yourself before and after using these techniques. And remember: you’re going to need to practice using these techniques before they come naturally. This will take concentration: if you relax when you read, you will find yourself regressing into your old, inefficient reading habits.

If none of that made sense, do some research online and find someone who can explain this in a different way.