1. If you increase your reading speed, your comprehension will be reduced.
Good readers score high on both speed and comprehension. But, it takes time and practice to get there.
2. Thorough "work" reading has to be slow.
On the contrary, slow reading is dull and discouraging and provides few rewards. Slow readers miss the overall meaning of the material.
3. Skimming isn't real reading.
Skimming IS reading. It is a vital part of rapid reading. It's the technique to apply when you are looking for something specific and/ or you want an overview of the whole document.
4. If you don't comprehend the 1st time or lose concentration, immediately reread.
Going back to recheck what you have understood is very inefficient. It stops you from reading actively and anticipating what is coming next.
5. Technical documents can't be read rapidly.
Technical documents lend themselves to rapid reading as in most cases these documents give background information that the reader often doesn't need.
6. Rapid reading of everything is boring.
Untrue. You don't read everything at the same rate or intensity: you need to adjust your speed in accordance with the nature and content of the material.
7. When you read, you need to remember everything.
Total recall is an impossible task and this attitude can stop you from trying to read at all. You need to set your goals for reading and determine what you need and don't need to remember.
Source: Redway, K. (1992). How to be a Rapid Reader. Chicago: National Textbook Co.
The average university student reads at around 250 to 350 words per minute on fiction and non-technical materials. A "good" reading speed is around 500 to 700 words per minute. Some people can read 1000 words per minute or more on these materials. To find out how fast you read, take a mini self assessment test.
1. Purpose e.g. to understand information, for example, skim or scan at a rapid rate; to determine the value of material or to read for enjoyment, read rapidly or slowly according to your feeling; to read analytically, read at a moderate pace that permits you to interrelate ideas.
2. Nature and difficulty - depends on background knowledge and complexity of material
3. Internal structure - rate adjustment according to difficulty
Experiments with slow readers show that not only do these readers look at every word (called ‘fixation'), their eyes jump back to previously seen words (called ‘regression').
I am looking at each word while I read this sentence.
Humans have very good peripheral vision. In fact we can see about 180 degrees from a point in front of our eyes. Peripheral vision was necessary in ancient times to protect ourselves from other predators. Even though we no longer need to fend off Sabre-toothed tigers, our peripheral vision is just as important today as it was thousands of years ago. Having this ability allows us to read many more words than those you are looking directly at. Once you understand your eyes' patterns and build your reading confidence, you will no longer feel the urge to fixate on each word or regress and your reading speed will increase.
To speed up you'll need to:
I am looking at large groups of words in this sentence and don't regress.
1. Use a pacer or pointer
2. Window Slot Technique
If you struggle with erratic eye movements, (i.e. your eyes jump around on the page and can't follow a left to right, line by line pattern), try using the "window slot" technique. Use a postcard or thick cardboard and cut out the centre in the shape and size of one line of print. As you run the window down the page, the eye is limited to horizontal movements only. This technique is useful for all readers and particularly useful for readers who suffer from dyslexia or other reading challenges.
Remember: SKIMMING IS READING. Skimming is taking mental notes of the outline/presentation of the material, picking up what stands out, and surveying headings and keywords.
What do I look for when I skim?
For an explanation of skimming, go to the Undergraduate Student tab. Download the module "Academic Reading". In the pdf version, go to the TOOL "Skimming: A Checklist" on p.19.
Average reading speed is between 150- 250 WPM. That's too slow if you have a lot of material to cover in a very short time (e.g. one term). You should aim for around 400-500 WPM.
Why should you read rapidly?
How can you improve your speed?