Speed reading: procedure, tips and exercises

Speed reading is about reading fast. Speed reading can ensure that you need much less time to process and store essential learning content. Of course the method also has disadvantages but these are balanced by many advantages. We show you the exact procedure for speed reading including tips and examples for exercises.

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For anyone who has ever had a literature list the size of the Amazon shoved into their hands, speed reading sounds like the ultimate salvation. Speed reading is really helpful in this case, yes, but somehow it’s not quite easy to understand the meaning of the texts when you just scurry over the words, or?

But don’t worry – speed reading is more than just sketchy reading of a mammoth text. With our speed reading tips you will not only read fast, but also efficiently. And let’s face it – who doesn’t want to finally be done reading so they can take a little well-deserved time off to watch Netflix in the evenings with a clear conscience afterwards? After all, reading fast also forms the foundation for learning fast.

How does Speed Reading work?

Most people read word by word and absorb the sentence to the end, even if this would not be necessary for understanding the text passage. Speed reading is therefore about eliminating the factors that slow down our reading speed. Depending on the type of reading, these can be of different nature: Maybe you get stuck on single lines of text for a long time, maybe you constantly jump back (especially in scientific reading) because you haven’t understood something yet.

The biggest enemy in this case is often the voice in your head that reads everything. Have you ever noticed this? Our reading voice has approximately our speaking speed, which ensures that your reading speed is mostly more like a VW Beetle than a Ferrari – metaphorically speaking. The solution is not to speak the information in your head, but to take it in with your eyes and understand it. When used correctly, the optimal speed reading technique can allow you to read up to 400 or even 600 words per minute. That sounds quite acceptable, doesn’t it??

What exactly are the advantages of the technique?

Speed reading isn’t just about reading faster, it’s also about being able to process and retain what you read in your head more quickly. A real win-win situation for every student! The good news is that speed reading can train your brain like a muscle. Your brain learns to perform better in general, to internalize information faster and to remember it more efficiently.

Furthermore, by reading faster you also learn to concentrate really well. Because if you want to absorb the learning content quickly, you can’t have any cross thoughts a la "Why is the fridge actually empty again??" perform. The high level of concentration, on the other hand, ensures better learning and exam results, so that you have less exam anxiety and, ideally, can go into the exam situation with more confidence.

Speed reading: What are the disadvantages of speed reading??

Being able to read faster offers many advantages. But the downside to speed reading may be that people who tend to read more slowly come under greater pressure while absorbing information. This is because they now have to work against their natural reading speed. This can make them feel stressed quickly, which could make it harder to absorb information.

There are also critical voices among some researchers on the subject of speed reading: A study published in the prestigious psychology magazine "Psychological Science in the Public Interest." is published, assumes that we have an intake limit for new information. Thus, it is not possible to read fast indefinitely while achieving sufficient comprehension of the text.

Fast reading: In which situations is the technique useful?

Speed reading is worthwhile, for example, if you want to prepare texts for your bachelor’s, master’s or term paper. Generally, whenever you need to get an overview first. Also, if you want your brain to warm up to new information, speed reading is a good idea. However, if it is more about literary than factual texts, you have to decide for yourself whether speed reading gives you enough information about the author’s style and the atmosphere of the book.

Also, when you get a long literature list from your prof. have been forced on you, the speed reading can definitely benefit you. Because here you can easily filter out the relevant sources by speed-reading abstracts/introductions/conclusions of books, or shorter scientific papers in their entirety . In this way, you can then much more easily decide whether the text source is relevant to your work and whether you should read it again more closely later on. This selection saves valuable time!

7 Quick Tips for Efficient Speed Reading

You want to read faster and learn the Fast Reading Method to increase your reading snail pace and become a "reading cougar"? You can do it with these tips:

Do not mumble along

As mentioned before, the reading voice in our head is the biggest enemy for fast reading. Try not to mumble along, for example, by holding your breath while reading, while you’re focusing on an important passage. Reading along aloud is of course also a disturbing factor.

Read in speed reading not from A to Z

Not every word in the book is relevant to your goals. So be brave enough to take a close look at the table of contents and then decide which aspects and chapters are relevant to you and which are not.

Do not stop at single words

Rather than sticking to individual words, try to grasp whole sections of meaning. This way you definitely save a lot of time! This also applies to foreign language texts. You do not need to know every word to understand a text. For example, read only every second word of a sentence or focus on the beginning and the end of the line. Learn to stick more to the gist of a line.

Skim the text first

Did you know that skimming a text twice is more effective than reading it intensively once?? This is because you are already subconsciously memorizing many aspects of the text as you skim (casually skim) through it. The next time you read, your brain already has docking points and can process the information faster.

Learn to focus

Speed reading is all about saving time. So don’t get distracted and imagine that you have to be extra attentive because you have to tell someone else what the text says.

Use reading aids for speed reading

You may feel a bit like you’re in elementary school, but reading aids, such as your finger or a pencil, can make reading easier. They can make sure you don’t over-read relevant information. In this way you absorb the material even though you are reading it very fast.

Do not look back!

Surely you know this situation: You are reading a book, and you don’t understand a passage at first go. Of course, you go back to the part you didn’t understand, don’t you?? Fast Reading is not about saving time. You just keep reading, because for sure you will find the thread again at a later point. Just imagine that rewinding is not possible!

Practical exercises to learn the speed reading technique

Expand your range of vision

To increase your reading speed, you should increase your eye span. This is the area you absorb while reading. For example, imagine that you are using a flashlight for reading. It is clear that in this case you will not hear much and you will have to jump back and forth.

This would be different with a larger light source, because your field of vision would be larger. Here is a practical exercise to widen your range of vision: write about 10 words that are slightly different in length on a piece of paper. For example: You, deed, joke etc. The longest word in the pyramid should be at the bottom. Now take an index card and quickly uncover the first line and then close it again. Then you check if you have memorized the word correctly. In doing so, you go down until you can no longer grasp a word . The result represents your current eye span.

Stop text with your eyes

Here you divide a text into three columns of the same size by means of two vertical lines. Now start reading, but fix only the middle of the three columns and stop only three times per line. Should you manage to do this easily, you should make it your goal to fix your eyes only twice per line. In this way you learn to absorb much more information per stop.

However, it’s not just about absorbing more content, it’s also about being able to internalize it better. This is how the material can be permanently stored in your brain.

To memorize what you read even better, you can of course resort to other techniques, such as mind mapping. A handy learning app like StudySmarter allows you to create mind maps online, among other things. Really practical!

Conclusion: Speed reading can serve you well during your studies

Learning to read faster has its advantages in any case. Just when your literature list is giving you emigration thoughts, speed reading can ensure that you simply need much less time to process essential learning content. Feel free to try it out and share your experiences with us!

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