The more you read and understand, the better informed you are. You can improve the speed and efficiency of your reading by using several easy techniques. Concentration is the key to all methods of reading faster and understanding more.
The two most common methods used to read and fully understand a passage are to read it slowly or to read it and then go back over it. Both methods are inefficient. Reading slowly has no effect on comprehension. The second method – known as regression – halves the speed, but improve comprehension by only 3-7 per cent. Eliminate regression and your reading speed will rise from the average of 250-300 words per minute (wpm) to 450-500 wpm with no loss of comprehension.
Learning To Skim-Read
Skim reading can help you manage your time and reduce hours spent in reading. In normal reading, the eyes make small, swift movements between a group of words (known as saccades), “fixing” briefly on each group. To read faster, you enlarge the groups and accelerate the move from one group to another. Before reading a book or proposal, if it has content, introduction, conclusion, and index, glance at these to decide what you need to read and what you do not.
On average, it takes about seven hours to read a reasonably long book of about 100,000 words. You could halve this time with skim reading. The object of learning how to read more quickly is to raise your maximum speed of reading by up to 80 per cent, without lowering your standard of comprehension. But reading and understanding at a faster rate do not help if you promptly forget what you have read, so you may need to improve your memory skills.
Memory is strongest after a few minutes, and 80 per cent is lost within 24 hours. An effective way to learn from books is to study for an hour, wait for a tenth or the time spent studying (6 minutes), review what you have studied, and then wait for 10 times the study period (in this instance, 10 hours) before you review again.
Points to remember:
- Powers of comprehension are usually overestimated.
- Loss of information can be picked up at a glance from illustrations and other visual material.
- Speed-reading can be learnt on a course or from books.
- Pages should be scanned down the centre, or diagonally, to achieve the most sense quickly.
- Time can be saved by looking at a book’s content, introductory pages, conclusion, and index, to check if it is worth reading.
- Memory can be improved by changing the way you learn and reviewing knowledge regularly.
- Using associations – especially striking ones – to enhance your memory.
- Make sure reading conditions – such as the lighting – are acceptable.