5 Ways to Read Faster That ACTUALLY Work: Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at speed reading in depth. In this video we looked at the science of how our eyes move over text and how our brains process that text. And in this video, we looked at some common speed reading techniques and showed how they’re really not as effective as a lot of people want to believe even they are.
So the question still remains though are there ways you can legitimately increase your reading speeds? Well, I believe that there are. And in this article I want to give you five different methods that you can use to actually read faster.
Read Faster Method 1:
The first method is deceptively simple and, well, maybe a little bit inconvenient.
It’s to simply read often, read widely, and read challenging material. I emailed a postdoctoral researcher at the University of San Diego named Elizabeth Shader who’s done a lot of research on speed reading for this episode. And I asked her what are the skills that help people learn to read faster? And she told me for skilled readers who are still reading between that 204 hundred words per minute range, there are people who have a lot of experience reading, who have a lot of command over their language and vocabulary, and who have a lot of prior background knowledge they can use to apply to whatever it is they’re reading quickly.
This indicates what you probably already know.
Reading is a skill. And like any other skill that’s worth the time to take to build, reading does take time and practice to get good at. Now, this next method will help you if you have the same problem with reading that I have. When I’m trying to read nonfiction, I really want to know what’s in the book. But I’ll often find myself getting bored. Or more commonly, I’ll read one sentence that will send me down a mental rabbit hole of sorts and then I’ll find myself daydreaming.
So, to reduce the instances of boredom and daydreaming when you’re reading, I have two different ideas for you. And the first one is to form what I call an interest link with something you’re already interested in. And that’s a term I completely just made up right now. But the general idea is to try to connect the thing you’re reading with something that you already have a lot of interest in. Another idea is to do a little bit of experimenting to find your optimal spot for reading. For example, this armchair is not a good spot for me to read.
Whenever I read here, I find myself daydreaming all the time and that’s why I tend to do a lot of my reading outside instead. Okay, so the third method, and this applies mainly to textbook readings or readings where you already know the specific type of information you want to pull out of it or at least have a general idea. And it is to pre read before you start actually reading. And by pre reading, I mean going through the chapter headings, the table of contents, looking at bold and formatted text throughout the chapter, and going to the end of chapter and looking at the vocabulary terms and the review questions.
By doing these things beforehand, you’re essentially priming your brain to notice the most important information when you’re reading. And that will let you do the next method, which, and this is going to go completely against everything you probably think I’ve been building towards in this series skimming. Even though we’ve established that skimming is a form of reading where your comprehension is lower, it’s still an essential skill because, let’s face it, the text that you’re presented with in the book is way more than the text you actually need to put into your brain.
Scheming is a great way to get yourself through the monstrous amount of reading you have to do to get the gist of an overall idea when the actual small little details aren’t quite as important to get. Now, my favorite method of skimming is one that Cal Newport came up with called pseudo skimming.
And this is basically a method where you go through your textbook reading and you skim through the paragraphs, looking for the specific paragraphs that are more important than the other ones, the ones that hold main ideas, concepts, and the things you need to remember.
Once you’ve identified one of these main paragraphs, then you can slow down and read for comprehension so you can remember what’s in it. But for the rest of them, skimming will suffice. When you’re pseudo skimming, a good way to pick out those important paragraphs is to pay attention to the first and last sentences of each paragraph, because those ones will give you an idea of what the rest of the paragraph contains. And to close this video out, the fifth and final tip for improving your reading speed. Hang on, should we really be talking about reading speed as a metric here, or should we look a little bit broader and be thinking about learning speed as a really important thing?
I think that people who want to learn to speed read are often motivated by this desire to become the kind of person who can say, I read three books this week and I think that’s the wrong motivation reading shouldn’t just be an achievement. Like godheads is not an achievement list and your bookshelf is not a trophy case.
By the same token, though, the acquisition of knowledge is also something that can lead you down the wrong path. Because in terms of speed reading, I think it encourages us to think of our brains like those ticket machines that take your tickets in an arcade and tell you how many bouncy balls you can get at the price counter.
Our brains don’t work that way, but trying to speed read can convince us that they do, and then we’re just trying to feed the tickets faster and faster. That’s not how learning works? What about really taking the time to ponder and chew on what you’ve learned and compare it with your worldview? I think speed readers are constantly concerned with this idea of comprehension, and even if their systems work, comprehension isn’t really the only goal.
The writer Scott Burkin put it better.
Then I ever could reading comprehension does not equal wisdom. Comprehension is for a test. Wisdom is for your life.
So here is the final method when you read, also take the time to do something with what you just learned. Take notes, write a summary, compare what you learned with your current view of the world, and use that information to do different things and make better decisions. All of this is going to help you more effectively encode the information, have to reread less, and essentially will increase your overall learning speed, which should be the goal.
Hopefully, some of the methods in this video can help you read faster, but ultimately it’s a matter of your priorities.
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