You’ve probably been reading at the same speed for most of your adult life. Even so, reading speed can be improved with intent and practice. Being able to read faster provides the key to learning more and experiencing more enjoyment from your reading.
How fast do want to be able to read? The Guinness World Record holder reads more than 25,000 words per minute! An average reading speed is approximately 250 words per minute.
Apply these ideas and increase your reading speed and retention:
- Find your baseline. You wouldn’t go on a diet without weighing yourself first. Take a few minutes to measure your current reading speed. After all, how will you know how much you’ve improved?
- Find something online to read that approximates the difficulty of the material you normally read. Set a timer for 3 minutes and read at your normal speed. At the end of your time, copy and paste what you actually read into a word processing program, and find the number of words you read. Divide by 3 to find your rate per minute. How did you do?
- Read more than one word at a time. With practice, you’ll find that you can focus your eyes on just a couple of spots per line and still see all of the words. It’s not necessary to focus on each individual word.
- Some readers find they can read an entire paragraph or more with a single glance. Your ability to intake larger passages at once will improve with practice.
- Avoid backtracking. Slow readers tend to read a little bit, then jump back and re-read the same material. Keep moving forward. This is perhaps the most effective tip for beginners.
- Avoid using a pointer. Using your finger or a pencil to direct your gaze is a huge time-waster. You can read much faster than your finger can accurately move. Drop the pointer and learn to focus your eyes, instead.
- Your speed might be limited by the fact that you don’t read often. Being good at anything requires practice. Push yourself to read faster. If you want 800 words per minute to be comfortable, force yourself to read at 1,000 wpm. You won’t be able to read faster than you practice.
- Avoid subvocalizing. As a child, you probably learned to read aloud. Over time, you learned to read silently, but you’re probably still saying the words to yourself in your mind. This is very slow. It takes a lot of practice to drop this habit, but your speed will really open up if you don’t subvocalize.
- Read actively. Be inquisitive and ask yourself questions as you’re reading. This forces a greater level of comprehension. Reading fast isn’t helpful if you can’t remember what you’ve read. Think about what you’re reading and even stop reading if necessary. Stopping might seem slow, but it pays off.
- Practice effectively. Each week, choose to focus on one aspect of reading faster and push yourself. Like building a muscle, your reading speed will increase with applied effort. Each week, re-test your reading speed and be proud of your improvement.
Are you excited? If you’ve never tried to increase your reading speed, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can improve. Work on developing effective reading habits. Tackle them one at a time and you’ll be rewarded with increased reading speed, comprehension, and enjoyment. How many more books could you read this year? What would that mean to you?