Speed Reading

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Contrary to what some believe, speed reading is not some innate gift with which some individuals are simply blessed and others aren't. Speed reading, like most skills, can be learned with the proper training and relentless practice. Over time, it's possible to more than double or triple the rate at which you read, but you must do the work to make this happen.

One of the core ideas at the heart of speed reading is that of eye span. Your span refers to the amount of information your eye takes in and sends to your brain for comprehension. The better able you are to read in "blocks" as opposed to individual words, the greater the speed you can achieve.

What about Comprehension?

A frequently asked question regarding speed reading has to do with comprehension and retention. Namely, if you accelerate the pace at which you consume visual data, won't you reduce the amount you understand? In short, the answer is no. In fact, there's much evidence to suggest that the faster you read, the more you comprehend. Again, the trick is to become comfortable with increasing your eye span, not training your brain to process words more rapidly.

The process of verbalizing the words you read, even if only to yourself, is called "subvocalization" and is an impediment to speed reading. Simply put, your eyes and brain can move much faster than your mouth, so muttering words under your breath as you take them in only limits you. Instead, begin looking at text in blocks on the page. Even if you don't immediately retain everything you see, with practice you can up your retention rate dramatically.


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