Depending on the subject manner, we read things at different speeds and for different reasons. For instance, if we were reading a novel we would take our time, relax and enjoy every minute of the drama, suspense and character development. If we were reading a technical manual we would take our time and probably go back over certain areas in order to understand it better. We want to comprehend and soak in what we read in both cases, but for different reasons.

We read on a daily basis, anything from the ticker across the bottom of the news channel on television to the bulletin board at the office. Some things we just look at and move on, others we linger over. The manner in which we read can be one of four ways – through skimming, scanning, extensive reading or intensive reading. Each of these can be accomplished more efficiently by learning speed-reading.

When we skim material we are running our eyes over the text so we can comprehend the basic fundamentals of what the source entails. Scanning is looking for specific information, so we search out words of phrases that will get us to where we want to be without having to read the entire content. Extensive reading is usually used for pleasure, like a novel, and you linger over areas and then visualize the scenes as you continue to the next chapter. Intensive reading is when you are reading for details, and you need to let the information – which may be a bit difficult, sink in. With this you would probably take the information in short paragraphs, and probably go over it more than once.

Through speed reading you will learn to focus your attention on all the words on the page, but be able to train your eyes to take in more than what you usually do. You also will retrain yourself to read without vocalizing the words – a much more efficient way to get through the material.

Reading is an “active” process, but most efficient when done “silently.” When we read out loud you actually prevent yourself from working efficiently. Our brains have been trained to focus on the word, speak the word out loud (or say it in our heads), and then process the image. This is how we learned to read as children, and how we train our children to learn to read. It is not so efficient for an adult however.  For example: when you see the word “train” your mind says the word and then translates it to a visual picture. In speed reading you eliminate the need for the brain to speak the word and you go directly to visualization.

As indicated above, not all text is read at the same speed. When we read our eyes do not usually follow each word.  In speed-reading you take the entirety of the text and see the whole picture as one unit  – title, pictures, diagrams, text, font, etc. You can skim through the text the first time to see if the assumptions you formed about the material is correct. You then ask yourself questions about what you have taken in, then read the text again more slowly and carefully this time in order to answer any questions you may have come across when you skimmed it the first time.

When trying to improve study skills and become more efficient readers, teachers often encourage the students to time themselves on what they read, little by little increasing their speed.

Speed reading courses help to develop reading efficiency by timing the exercise. They then take a self-quiz to test how much they remember. Students should keep a record of results to show progress. Taking notes and summarizing is also advisable for retention.

Another comprehension enhancer is to make use of visual and non-word elements, like how the page is laid out or any diagrams or charts that are included in the pages. Also take note of how the author phrases his words so you can predict the point he is trying to make.

There are speed-reading courses, such as the one I coach, that can help to improve grades and memory, and help in job performance. Learning techniques to help you to develop your reading efficiency and comprehension can be beneficial in all phrases of life. In this technological age, where words are blasted at you even on your phone, becoming more efficient is almost a MUST!

About the author:

Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion. He speaks at seminars and to large groups all over the world on how to improve memory, speed-reading and memory techniques. In addition, his website sells CDs and programs to improve memory skills and advise for success.



Reading Study Skills by Bonny Bucknam: