Teachers and reading specialists know that comprehension is the most important reading skill. It can suffer when speed is the primary focus, but there are ways to prevent the loss of comprehension while speed-reading. The average college-educated person reads at the rate of 200-400 words per minute. Some would like to read faster, but are afraid of sacrificing comprehension for speed. It is possible to learn to speed read by incorporating some proven techniques and tactics into all types of reading. By learning some important concepts and developing good reading habits, anyone can learn to speed read. There are several techniques that an individual can use to improve reading speed and efficiency.
Previewing is a common strategy used in learning to speed read. Whether fiction or non-fiction, previewing focuses on becoming familiar with chapter titles, significant keywords and concepts, and having a basic understanding of what the text is all about. This allows the reader to save time by knowing where to find the most meaningful parts.
Skimming is preceded by previewing and allows the reader to look for relevant information and ignore trivial passages. Skimming is focused on general information and not on details. Skimming is used to discover the main idea and lets the reader bypass non-relevant material. It is important to search for keywords and ignore others. The main reason that skimming is a speed reading skill is that it does not read every word and skips over insignificant data. The main idea of each paragraph becomes clear in the first or topic sentence. Skimming works especially well for non-fiction, but can be used for fictional selections.
Scanning is a reading technique that seeks specific information without reading the entire selection. It is important to know the material and how it is structured before beginning to scan. Know exactly what is needed and formulate questions before starting to scan. This strategy makes it easier to find specific items quicker. Scanning eliminates the need to read every word and even requires the practice of skipping over irrelevant information. Scanning saves time by finding the exact location of the needed material. Using a finger on the page is an effective method of scanning.
Chunking or Word Phrases
When reading any text, it saves time to look for word phrases or chunks instead of individual words. Reading speeds up by looking at up to eight or nine words at a time. This skill requires practice and concentration to master, but does speed up reading skills.
Practice Makes Perfect
Speed reading is only a form of skimming with the goal of reading quickly while comprehending what has been read. A child learns the basics of reading in first grade and improves those skills throughout life. The key to improving reading speed is to read interesting materials and work on increasing vocabulary. Reading skills improve greatly with a broader vocabulary. Scientific studies have shown that speed reading improves brain performance by processing information faster and with more efficiency. It is possible to learn and practice speed reading and retain a high level of comprehension by using a few proven techniques.