As we move on from Primary to Secondary school, and eventually Tertiary and University education, you are definitely going to realize the significant increase in the amount of reading materials. If your reading speed to too slow or have bad reading habits that hinder your reading, you are bound to experience what is commonly known as the ‘no life syndrome’. You literally will be finding yourself buried in piles and piles of reading materials and stuck with the choice of either completing them or have your grades suffer.
Here are 6 effective reading techniques to increase your reading speed and boost comprehension:
Using a Pen to Pace
Instead of fidgeting with your hands or holding the book at the edges, grab a pen or a pencil and use it as a guide. Our eyes need guidance. Without a guide, a pen or a pencil in this case, our eyes tend to dance all over the page as read, drastically slowing us down as we read. Sliding through the sentence using a pen or pencil to guide your eyes while reading will help you to stay focused and increase your concentration.
Another great tip to increase your reading speed is using a pen or pencil to pace your reading. Just as we might have someone help pace us as we train for a marathon, use the pen to pace your reading will eventually train you to start reading faster. You will want to always move your pen or pencil slightly faster than your normal reading speed. If you find yourself struggling slightly to catch up as your pace, you are doing it right! You are training your eyes to catch up and get into the habit of moving faster.
Look out and Circle Keywords & Ideas
If you have no idea what are keywords and key ideas, you might want to start off by reading this article on Effective Study Guide, and pay close attention to Step 4: Effective Reading.
I will say this here again – revising from your textbook is a disaster and a waste of valuable time! You want to read it one, pick up the keywords and ideas from the chapters and convert them into your notes. As you are scanning through your reading materials, using your pen or pencil to pace (refer to technique number 1), you want to identify the important information and circle them. Yes, circle, not underline. Each paragraph using contain one key idea with supporting points. Knowing this will improve your information gathering process.
Read in Chunks
Do you know your eye span? Eye span refers to the number of words you can pick up in a glance. You can discover what is your eye span by doing a simple activity with the help of your friend. First, have your friend decide on a specific sentence in a paragraph. Cover the sentence with a piece of paper in front of you and when you are ready, have your friend reveal the sentence to your for a quarter of a second before covering it again. Quickly, share the words you remember; and that, is your eye span.
The eye span of an average person is around 4 to 5 words The good news is, you can train your eye span to pick up more words as you practice. Most of our graduates of the I Am Gifted!™ school holiday programme have eye span of about 7-10 words, allowing them to read almost twice faster than most kids.
Read to a Tempo (play Fast Music in the background)
Fast music, especially those without lyrics, is an incredible tool to help train your brain and eyes to start reading faster. With fast music in the background, our reading speed will eventually match the speed of the music. Do this enough and your eyes and body will be conditioned and tuned to read at a higher speed even without the music.
It is a myth that reading in silence improves concentration. It does not. In fact, reading in silence can be dangerous because the silence makes your mind wonder. Another benefit for having the fast and loud music in the background is that they help to drown out any other distracting sounds and even your inner voice that slows you down.
Read the Chapter from Back to Front
Start with the end in mind. If you are learning a new chapter, start by reading the summary first. If you are tackling a comprehension, start by reading the questions first. This simple strategy prepares your mind and the moment you drive deep into the information in the pages and between the paragraphs, your mind is now ready to pick up the important information that will help you arrive with the answers that you need. It allows you to read with purpose and become a reader that is actively looking for crucial information.
In addition, a strategy worth mentioning is to scan through the headings and subheadings of the chapters before you begin reading the words in details. Doing so helps your mind make associations and draw links between the information. More importantly, it helps improve your comprehension rate while reading.
Keep Pushing and Stretching Yourself
You know how athletes train by tying weights to their feet while they run? It can get quite uncomfortable doing so, but it had tremendous benefits. Doing so trains their muscles to become stronger and when the weights are taken off, they feel very light in comparison and will be able to run very fast.
You can use this same training technique in effective reading. Use your pen or pencil to constantly pace yourself to go faster then use your usual speed. Push your boundaries and get yourself ready to feel confused and uncomfortable in the beginning as you struggle to catch up with the pace. Overload your system with lots of drills and practices soon enough, you will feel just like the athlete.