James wants to start reading more but can’t get through the first chapter of a book because of a lack of time.
Whenever James sits down to read, he gets about 10 pages through the book and realized he’s already spent 30 minutes reading. He skims to the back of the book and sees that the book has 328 pages; at this rate it will take 16.5 hours to read this book… screw that!
It’s no wonder why the majority of people do not read often even if they enjoy it. Who has that much time to finish a book?
Unfortunately, speed reading has caught a bad rap from people who misunderstand what it is.
I started this website so I can help everyone who wants to learn how to read and comprehend faster.
What is Speed Reading?
The literal term of speed reading is – “to read rapidly by assimilating several phrases or sentences at once.”
If you want to increase how fast you read, it will take some time, dedication, and practice but the reward is worth every second spent.
7 Important Facts That You Should Know About Speed Reading
There are many facts about speed reading and I will have more articles covering them.
Here are the 7 most important facts about speed reading I think you should know:
1.) You can’t simply “double your reading speed overnight”
There are a lot of courses and books out there making claims to “double your reading speed overnight” and they are completely bogus. While I’ve never used these specific courses to be able to review them, the skill of speed reading is something that needs to be learned and practiced.
The average person reads 200-250 words per minute for non technical works such as a fiction book or article like this one; that means it takes roughly 2 minutes per page.
Doubling your reading speed is possible, but will take some time and practice before you can achieve 400-500 words per minute.
2.) Speed reading is learned and speeds can improve
When you first start speed reading, you are going to fall into old habits of sub-vocalization and comprehension problems. The more you read and consistently practice not sub-vocalizing, the better your reading comprehension and speed will get.
This is why claims to “double your speed overnight” is absurd.
3.) Speed reading isn’t just glancing at a page and acting like it is read
How many times have you seen someone glance at a page making it look like they are reading the lines but they clearly aren’t comprehending any of it?
I have… many times.
We’ve all been there, reading a long birthday card that our grandma bought us that has what seems to be a 3 page letter written inside of it. You panic as everyone is quietly watching you read the card and you start buzzing through the lines only catching a couple of words: “I”, “proud”, and “birthday.”
You graciously thank her for your card while you’re trying to sneak a peek how much money you just got. What you don’t realize is your grandma just wrote a heart-felt letter congratulating you on all of your achievements and you only muster up a fake smile and a thank you.
All sappiness aside, speed reading is a tool that needs to be learned and used daily if you want to get the most out of it.
4.) Speed reading is important to learn to keep up with the amount of information being produced
The total amount of information in the world doubles every 9 months. That means if all of the information in the world could be put on a 2 gig flash drive, you would need another 2 gigs in 9 months.
If you want to have a fighting chance to keep up with all of the information that is thrown at us every day, speed reading is necessary to stay ahead of the game.
This means we need to start processing information faster and faster if we want to become successful and knowledgeable.
The average American college graduate only reads about 5 books in his or her post-college lifetime.
Knowledge is power.
5.) Reading is a 3 step process; fixate, saccade, and process
Regardless of how fast you read, reading is a 3 step process.
- Fixate – When you focus on a word or two, this is fixation.
- Saccade – Once you have focused on one word, you move to the next. Saccade is jumping to the next word.
- Process – Comprehend. You fixate on a word, saccade to the next until the end, and process it.
Speed reading works on improving how many words you can fixate on at a time, speeding up your saccade, and improving your processing. There’s many other tricks and tips also that I will go over in other articles.
Note: There are apps like Spritz which help remove the saccade part of reading by flashing a word on one point of the screen which help with speed and comprehension training.
6.) Reading faster than 600 words per minute can cause unacceptable comprehension loss
For the average reader who wants to get faster at reading, 600 words per minute is about the fastest you will get before you start having a massive amount of comprehension loss.
You may be able to actually see more than 600 words per minute, but if tested on what you just read, you would test poorly.
Unfortunately, there are certain anatomical and neurological restraints that keep us from being able to read thousands of words per minute.
Cool fact: Kim Peek, the inspiration for the movie Rain Man could read up to a staggering 10,000 words per minute. Kim was a “megasavant” who had unbelievable abilities but suffered from development disabilities related to congenital brain abnormalities.
7.) Sub-vocalization is the number 1 reason you read slow
Sub-vocalization… the little voice in your head reading “out loud” in your brain. This inner voice is what slows your reading down.
You are able to comprehend and read much faster when you can learn to “shut off” this inner voice – This is the biggest obstacle for beginners learning to speed read.
I’ll have many articles about sub-vocalization and how to learn to read without it, but know that this is the number 1 reason you read slow.
Being able to double your reading speed overnight is impossible because there are 3 steps to reading – fixate, saccade, and process. Speed reading isn’t just looking at a page of words as fast as you can and calling it read… you have to learn to increase your ability to process too.
With information doubling every 9 months, speed reading is a skill you must learn if you want to keep up with it all. Learning to cut out sub-vocalization will be the hardest thing you learn to do, but will pay off the most. Even the most trained speed readers have times where they sub-vocalize.
Lastly, if your goal is to read 800+ words per minute, you’re going to have to start defying the human anatomy or be a genetic freak.
Every article on this website is designed to improve the quality of life of its reader; I’m not out here writing articles to make a quick buck. You’ll see that I genuinely believe that speed reading is something you need to learn so you can take control of your life and follow your dreams. Being able to read a great story or a technical book to learn a new craft is important in today’s economy and I want to share that gift.
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