Reading is a skill we learn at an early age that becomes so inherent an ability we likely don’t remember learning it at all. But reading fast is another story.
Learning how to read faster can promote vast and empowering benefits for you in your life.
Almost all facets of our lives intersect with a form of reading. We read street signs to know how to navigate our vehicles on the roadways. We read calendars on our phones to keep track of our schedules. We read emails at work to keep up-to-date with projects and meetings.
Reading is an inherent part of life, and discovering how to read faster and more efficiently can be a skill you carry forward into all spectrums of your life.
In this article, we will learn 4 tips on how to read faster and retain more:
- Don’t subvocalize when you read
- Preview what you’re about to read
- Track your reading progress
- Skip the small words when you read
The Valuable Benefits of Learning to Read Faster
Are you a fast reader? The average adult reads at a speed of 300 words per minute. You can take various reading and comprehension tests online to test your current abilities if you’d like to discover your word per minute rate.
According to a speed-reading test by Staples, here’s how many words per minute people read on average:
- Third-grade students – 150 wpm
- Eighth-grade students – 250 wpm
- Average adult – 300 wpm
- Average university student – 450 wpm
- Average business executive – 575 wpm
- Average university professor – 675 wpm
Where do you fall on this spectrum?
There are certainly many benefits to be had from learning how to read faster and more efficiently. However, aside from being able to surf Netflix more proficiently, what other benefits can be had from faster reading and comprehension skills?
1. Learning to read faster improves your memory
Reading quickly isn’t just about skimming the page. It’s also about retaining the information your brain is processing.
The brain is a muscle — the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. The parts of the brain that light up when we read are closely associated with those parts of the brain that process memory.
The stronger your reading skills, the better your memory becomes!
2. Learning to read faster improves your focus
One of the reasons people have difficulty reading is due to a lack of focus. Especially today, with the integration of digital technology across all spectrums of our lives, it’s more challenging than ever to stay dedicated to a singular task.
Let’s face it: we’re easily distracted! That’s okay because we can learn to retrain our minds and focus our energy by learning to read faster.
3. Learning to read faster saves time
This may be fairly obvious, but it’s also one of the most attractive benefits of learning how to read faster.
Simply put — learning to read faster saves us a serious whack load of time!
If you could read an email or a document or a letter in half the time it would normally take you, you just saved yourself the time that you can now use to do something else. Your productivity will increase two-fold and you’ll get more done in less time.
Learning how to read faster makes us more efficient people.
How to Read Faster and Retain More
There’s little doubt that learning how to read faster benefits us in several influential ways, but how do you actually go about doing it?
How can you learn to read faster? Is there a magic button you can press you’ve somehow been overlooking all these years?
Learning how to read faster is a skill, which means it’s something that can be taught, practiced, and improved. You can improve the rate of speed at which you read by using a few of these handy tips.
So, here’s how to read faster and retain more.
1. Don’t subvocalize when you read
Subvocalization is the act of silently pronouncing each word in your head as you read. It’s something many people unconsciously do when they read, but trust us — if you want to learn how to read faster, you’ll need to nip this habit in the bud.
Subvocalization will only hamper your reading speed and distract you from the inherent meaning of the text. The next time you read, see if you can catch yourself subvocalizing. The more aware you are of this habit, the easier it will be to break.
One trick that may help you hone in on subvocalization is to focus on one word on the page and stare at it in silence for as long as you’re able to. There will definitely be some form of subvocalization at first, but see if you can sit and wait for it to subside. Eventually, you’ll be able to see the word without saying it aloud in your head.
Practice this skill the next time you’re waiting in line. You’ll have it down pat in no time!
2. Preview what you’re about to read
It’s more challenging to comprehend what you’re reading when you have little to no idea what it’s about.
Before you sit down to read something, especially if it’s a challenging text, preview the document first. What are you about you read? Who wrote it, and why? What do you think the text will entail?
3. Track your reading progress
You won’t know if you’ve improved unless you know where you started. Take a short reading speed and comprehension test to find out what your baseline reading rate is.
From there, you’ll have a better idea of how you’ll be able to improve. Practice reading and see if you’re able to pick up the pace. Remember to give yourself time to develop this skill — it is a skill, after all!
In a week or two, check your reading comprehension again (be sure it’s the same test, for consistent results).
4. Skip the small words when you read
To be clear, skipping small words isn’t quite the same thing as skimming what you’re reading.
When you skim, you’re not retaining the words or ideas that you’re consuming. You may have a general sense of the work, but the fine details will likely be lost.
Skimming is a great skill to cultivate, as it can be immensely useful under certain circumstances. However, learning to fully comprehend and retain what you read at a quick pace is even more beneficial.
Learning how to read faster is all about eliminating the small, unnecessary words that fill up a page. These words certainly have their place, of course, and we need them to construct sentences and ideas!
Although, when we’re trying to read quickly, we can often skip these words with no ill-effects:
“if”, “is”, “to”, “the”, “and”
Employ these tips for fast reading to help you not just learn how to read faster, but to retain more too!
Learning to Read Faster and More Efficiently Keeps Us Productive
There are quite a few ways to increase your reading speed. If you’re interested in outside resources, there are online reading courses that offer to help you learn how to read faster, and quite a few apps with reading programs designed to increase your speed.
When we can do more in less time, we increase our productivity — that’s something we all can benefit from.
We’re not just more productive when we master the skill of fast reading, we strengthen our minds. We become better focused, more alert, and more mindful. We increase our knowledge and our vocabularies. We become more confident in our abilities to process and comprehend new and challenging ideas.
Here’s a video providing even more tips on quicker learning: