Increasing the speed at which you read and comprehend information can have a huge impact on your life. Not only will it shorten the time it takes you to read, it might even ignite your passion and motivation for reading and learning new things. When we first learned how to read, we were taught to sound out each letter at a time to produce the word, and read each word at a time to produce the sentence. This system is good for learning how to read, but it makes it difficult to ever increase your reading speed beyond 250-300 words per minute. This is roughly the national average. There are two reasons this system makes it harder to increase your reading speed. It instills in us the habit of sub-vocalization, and the habit of reading one word at a time.
Sub-vocalization is when you use your larynx and possibly even your mouth, tongue, and lips when you read. If you are using all of these, your reading speed is essentially limited by how fast you can talk, since you are doing everything except producing sound. Even if you are only using your larynx, your speed is strictly limited. The only muscles that need to move when reading are your eye muscles. With some practice, everything else can remain completely still and you will still be able to comprehend everything you read. It will be difficult at first to break this habit, but once you do, your speed will increase immediately. The best exercise I found to practice eliminating sub-vocalization is to repeatedly count to ten out loud as you read. It’;s a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will realize that you are understanding the text without sub-vocalizing.
The other bad habit many readers have is only reading one word at a time. Again, this is because of the way most of us were taught to read, and we were never told any other way. This habit can be more challenging to overcome than sub-vocalization; however, the direct relationship between the number of words you read at each fixation and your reading speed is obvious. If your eyes fixate on each individual word, it will take you 240 corrections to read 240 words. The average fixation while reading is 200-250 milliseconds, which means it would take one minute to read 240 words. Simply increasing each fixation to two words cuts that time to 30 seconds, effectively doubling your reading speed. As you become more profitable, you will be able to increase the words per fixation even more. A great online tool that can help you increase your words per fixation is Spreeder . You can change the settings to increase words per minute or chunk size, and you can also paste whatever text you like into the window. This is a very useful tool that can help you increase your reading speed tremendously.
Take Action Now: Practice eliminating these habits while reading for at least twenty to thirty minutes a day, several times a week. It is best to start with light reading, sometimes something you have already read. Measure your reading speed before you begin, and again after a few practice sessions. You should see quite an improvement if you are consistent with your practice.