Whether you want to read faster for school or for work, there are simple and effective reading strategies that can help you read more quickly and improve your comprehension of the material. An average reading speed is about 250 to 350 words per minute. By applying speed reading strategies, you can increase this rate to 500 to 700 words per minute while maintaining good comprehension. Before you start, get your eyes checked and make sure you are reading in a quiet environment suitable for concentration. You must be able to see clearly in order to read quickly and you must be able to maintain your concentration in order to comprehend what you are reading.
Calculate your current reading speed so you can track your improvement. Select a page of text, start your timer and read the text at your normal speed making sure you comprehend the material. When you get to the end of the page, stop your timer. Count the words in your text. Divide the number of words in the text by the number of seconds it took you to read it. The result is your rate. Multiply your rate by 60. The result is your words per minute reading speed.
Keep your dictionary handy while you read and look up unfamiliar words as you read. Learning the meanings of unfamiliar words will help you read and comprehend the rest of the text, and having your dictionary close by means you don't have to interrupt the flow of your reading to look up a definition. Learning the definitions of words will increase your comprehension of future reading material as well, since a large vocabulary will enable you to read and comprehend many kinds of reading materials.
Skim the text and look for words that can be grouped together into phrases. Omit short words like "the," "a" and "to" and group words according to the idea or thought put forth. "Chunking" several words into one coherent thought while ignoring words such as "the," "a," and "to" will improve your reading speed.
Don't read out loud. Vocalizing or sub-vocalizing means to read the words aloud or to move your lips while reading. You cannot speak as fast as you can read or think. Avoid vocalizing or reading aloud, no matter how quietly. Reading out loud will cause you to read as fast as you can talk, which is much slower than your reading rate can be.
Use your finger, a piece of paper or a pencil to help you stay focused on a single line of text at a time. This will improve your reading speed by helping you avoid reading regression. Reading regression means you are going back and re-reading the same text multiple times. However, if you stay focused on the line of text you are reading before continuing, your comprehension of the text will improve. Set your finger, a piece of paper or a pencil on the line of text just above the line you are reading. As you move down the page, pull the paper or other object down the page with you, covering up the text you have read.
Adjust your reading style to the material you are reading. Light material such as magazine articles or Web pages often require less concentration than technical manuals or textbooks. Skimming light material quickly will often give you all of the relevant information, while you may need to go back to more involved material for a second, closer read. By adjusting your concentration and reading techniques to what you are reading you will be able to read many kinds of material with increased speed.