Thursday, June 10, 2010

Learning Strategies for Reading Faster and Speed Reading

Learning strategies are always of interest to me, so when I came across this link that presents 70 strategies to improve speed reading, I thought I would pass it along. While I don't know the research backing of each strategy provided on this particular link, I do think there is relevance in presenting learners with specific strategies, teaching learners how to use them appropriately, allowing learners to try the strategies out themselves in context of a relevant learning situation, providing learners with opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy, and then allowing learners to make their own decisions regarding the potential usefulness of the strategies in future learning situations. If a strategy worked well for them, learners should be encouraged to continue to use the strategy. If the strategy did not work well, learners should use a different approach. This process can be used in a classroom setting or by an independent learner. This approach develops strategic, self-directed learners.

Following is the list of strategies on the link mentioned above:

Selection & Timing

Get better control of what you read and when you read it.
  1. Go for big fonts: Big fonts are easier to speed read because it’s harder to skip lines accidentally.
  2. Make it more interesting: Approach reading as something interesting instead of a dreaded task.
  3. Set a time goal: Decide how fast you’d like to read and keep on track to push yourself.
  4. Put together a reading schedule: Find out a time of day when you’re alert and ready to read.
  5. Don’t read unnecessary items: Delete joke emails, catalogs, and newsletters to reduce your pile of reading to get through.
  6. Read correspondence once: Read correspondence right away and decide what to do about it so that you don’t have to go back over it again.
  7. Squeeze reading in: Get reading done in tiny increments, taking advantage of opportunities like doctor’s appointments and carpooling.
  8. Practice frequently: The more you read, the faster you will read.

Increasing Speed
These tips will help you read a bit speedier.
  1. Read in chunks: Read chunks of words and even full sentences to increase your speed.
  2. Think about reading faster: Simply think about reading faster to pick up the pace.
  3. Move down a central strip of text: Let your peripheral vision do the work by reading down the middle.
  4. Force yourself to read faster: You may miss some of the meaning at first, but if you force yourself to read faster, you’ll eventually improve your speed.
  5. Read from point to point: Look for important points and avoid the nonessential selections.
  6. Eliminate eye rests: Don’t let your eyes stop and rest on words as you read.
  7. Control your reading speed: Don’t just go faster-exercise control over your reading rate.
  8. Practice timed readings: Take time to evaluate your reading speed often to see your progress.
  9. Avoid subvocalizing: Subvocalizing, whether it’s all in your head or you’re moving your lips, will only slow you down.
  10. Double your pace: Time yourself at normal speed, then force yourself to read the next ten pages twice as fast without worrying about comprehension.
  11. Read only key words: Avoid words like a, the, and, but.
  12. Speed read every day: Work on your speed reading skills every day, or at least a few times a week.
  13. Skip unimportant parts: If a paragraph or word is not essential, forget about it.
  14. Move your pointer faster: If you move your pointer faster than you can read words inside your head, you can break yourself of subvocalizing.
  15. Don’t reread: Rereading slows you down and disrupts your brain’s flow.
  16. Use natural vision: Use natural vision to use your whole field of vision for reading.
  17. Skim first: Before you start reading, take a look and find key words, bold time, and headings to find the main idea of answer you’re looking for.
  18. Don’t pause for periods and commas: Read all the way through periods and commas instead of stopping.
  19. Have your eyes checked: You may be reading slowly because of a problem with your vision.
These tips will help you with your pacing.
  1. Use a physical pacer: Make use of a note card, pen or finger to keep your eyes right on focus.
  2. Practice the hand technique: Keep an equal, gradual motion with your hand and follow it with your eyes.
  3. Train your eyes: Use free web apps like Spreeder to train your eyes to read quickly.
  4. Take breaks: Be sure to take a break every hour to let your mind refocus and digest the material.
  5. Try the finger technique: Make a fixation on 3-4 words with each bounce, two per line.
  6. Practice on dots: Use dots to train your eyes to move quickly.
  7. Read in a Z pattern: Read the first line normally, then sweep your eyes to the left until you get to line 3 and repeat down the page.
  8. Follow the sweep technique: Sweet your fingers from left to right to draw your eyes across the page.
Ideal Setting
Create the perfect setting for reading quickly.
  1. Reduce distractions: Read in a quiet space away from entertainment and people.
  2. Find a reading spot: Select a spot where you will not be interrupted or distracted.
  3. Sit comfortably: Sit in a comfortable position and relax to read your best.
  4. Read early in the day: For many people, the morning is mental prime time for reading.
  5. Use a lap pillow: Lap pillows offer an easy way to relieve reading tension.
  6. Avoid fidgeting: Nervous habits will reduce your concentration.
  7. Use reading glasses: You may need a little help, so try using reading glasses.
  8. Hold the book as flat as possible: Hold the book wide open so you can use your full vision.
  9. Relax: Relax to avoid tension that can interfere with your concentration.
  10. Use earplugs: Drown out distractions with the help of earplugs.
  11. Use a notepad: If important thoughts or ideas run through your head and distract you, be sure to keep a notepad handy so you can write them down and get back to reading.
  12. Put your phone on silent: Let your voicemail catch phone calls and answer back when you’re done reading.
  13. Hang a do not disturb sign: Make sure that others know you’re not to be interrupted by hanging a do not disturb sign.
  14. Make your reading environment comfortable: Regulate the temperature so that you’re not too hot or too cold.
  15. Test yourself: Use online speed reading tests to find out how fast you can read.
Comprehension & Quality
These tricks will help you improve your comprehension while you’re speed reading.
  1. Pay attention: Read as if it really matters and pay attention.
  2. Pause to reflect: Stop to think about what you’re reading for better comprehension.
  3. Visualize: Picture what you’re reading in your mind to visualize as you go along.
  4. Turn headings into questions: Turn headings into questions, and scan the text to answer those questions.
  5. Talk about what you’ve read: Synthesize the reading material by talking about it out loud.
  6. Dog-ear pages: Turn down important pages to return to them later.
  7. Summarize frequently: As you read, summarize the material.
  8. Blink often: When you blink, it helps your brain process information.
  9. Know why you’re reading: Be sure that you know your goal for reading material so that once you’ve read what you must, you can stop right away.
  10. Prioritize content: Identify the important parts and focus on those instead of unimportant information.
  11. Do something with the information: When you’re finished with the reading selection, summarize, answer questions, or draw an illustration to improve your long term recall.
  12. Test your comprehension: Take advantage of online speed reading comprehension tests to learn about your speed reading comprehension.
  13. Don’t forget to take breaks: Taking breaks will help you better process the information you’re reading.
  14. Don’t highlight: Highlighting is detrimental to your comprehension and especially your reading speed.
  15. Reread later if you must: If you don’t understand a selection, move on, but go back and review it later.
  16. Build your vocabulary: The more words you understand, the faster you will read.
  17. Remember the focus: Keep in mind the point of what you’re reading so that you can stay focused.
  18. Vary your rate: Keep your reading rate varied depending on the difficulty and type of writing you’re tackling.
  19. Preview material: Prepare for reading by looking it over to become familiar with it.
  20. Balance speed and comprehension: Be careful to maintain a quality balance of speed and comprehension so that your reading is efficient.
See also my post about a free online speed reading tool here.


  1. Thanks Heidi! Great article.

    I have long used the eyeQ speed reading and I tell people about it whenever I can. I feel like it's the best program out on the market today.

  2. I agree. speed reading has made reading so enjoyable for me!