Gaining more knowledge is key for success. But nowadays, by the time you learn new facts, they’re already outdated.
So, we have to learn faster. And the most effective way to do that is to improve your reading speed and comprehension. It requires discipline, but developing these skills will put you ahead of the pack. Here are 8 exercises to improve your reading speed and comprehension.
1. Size-Up the Task
Assess the work you’re about to do. Skim the text first and look for important points. Catch the headings and subheadings; read the first and the last paragraphs of several chapters; get accustomed to the writer’s style.
Grasp the forest before focusing on the trees. You should be able to identify the main ideas after a quick skim.
2. Ask Questions
As you read through the text, create questions you are wanting to find answers to. Then anticipate finding the answers to your questions. Focus on your interests and what you want to take away from the reading; skip the irrelevant information.
It is impossible to remember everything you read, so learn to pull out what is relevant to your needs. You know exactly what you need to take away from the reading.
3. Quit Subvocalization
When children first learn to read, they whisper the words or say them softly. At the next level, they read silently but still move their lips as if saying each word. As adults, we say the words in our minds—it’s called “subvocalization.”
However, subvocalization doesn’t allow us to read faster because we can only go as fast as we speak. The average speaking rate is about 150 words per minute, while the average reading speed is about 200-300 words per minute.
So, to read faster, we need to silence that voice inside. How? Listening to music while reading helps. At first, it will affect your comprehension. But soon you’ll notice your concentration increases. Paradoxically, the music that distracted you earlier, will help you to focus and learn faster.
4. Read Groups of Words
Children learn to read starting with joining syllables. Later, they join words to understand sentences. We often stop there. But, there is the another level—absorbing groups of words at once. Here’s how to get started:
Grab a pencil and divide the page into 3 columns, so each of them has 2 to 4 words in a row. Try to read them together jumping from one column to another. It is easier than you think. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t need the columns.
We are just applying the same rule from comprehending words. We don’t read every letter but we recognize the whole word. Now, instead of reading separate words, you are reading groups at once.
5. Use a Pointer
Remember as a child when you used a finger to follow the sentence when reading? It turns out this simple method is great for adults to improve reading speed.
The trick is not only to point but do it fast. Your finger acts like a tracker for your eyes; not only does it help with staying focused, but also sets the pace for reading. Keep increasing the speed as you read and working on getting faster.
6. Expand Your Vocabulary
Not knowing the meaning of a word can slow down your reading. The wider your vocabulary is, the less time you have to take to stop and look up the meanings of unknown words.
Learn the meanings of new words when you have spare time. It will boost both your reading skills and your overall intelligence.
7. Play the “Recall” Game
At the end of each page in a book or the end of a few paragraphs in an article, pause and recall what you just read. Write a few key words in the margin. This will help you with comprehension.
8. Track Your Progress
Try to consistently read sections of the same word-count and time your results. Slowly push yourself to get faster. Start with a baseline of how many pages/words you are reading per-minute and set yourself a goal of how many words-per-minute you would like to reach.
Developing reading skills are the key to mental and professional growth. But remember not to empty the joy from learning. Success and growth should also be fun.