Intelligence Intensification/Speed Reading

Intelligence Intensification
Introduction | Information Sifting | Information grasping
Information Evaluation | Information Invention | Information Utilization

Classical Speed Reading edit

If you have never thought about how you can increase your reading speed, you will find these tips very interesting. You can probably read at much higher rates without losing understanding. Your brain is faster than your eyes. If you're still skeptical about increasing your reading speed, consider the following. This technique does not have to be used to increase your reading speed. You could choose to continue reading at your old speed, but have more time to understand the text, with less time used interpreting symbols. It is also strange that many people say that they don't need to read faster, but nobody wants to read slower.

Speed reading is not suitable for many types of written material. Text with complex mathematical concepts or equations, for example, needs to be read many times, slowly. Written material describing a complex historical scenario likewise may be too complicated to be understood quickly. However, when the reading speed is slow and the information is not interesting, the mind tends to wander.

Speed reading poetry will not improve one's appreciation of it, partly because in reading it too quickly, one loses much of the nuance of poetical metre. This is also true if you try to recite poetry at 700wpm. Speed reading tends to be a useful technique for light material such as easy-reading novels or magazine columns. The best idea is to speed read slowly. That is, use a perfect reading technique, but do it at a rate appropriate for the appreciation of what you are reading. Using a bad technique doesn't increase the appreciation of poetry, or the understanding of mathematical formulae. Speed reading the small print of speed reading course contracts (or any contract, for that matter) is also not a good idea.

In order to increase your reading speed, do this:

  1. Never pronounce the words. Your mouth should be absolutely still.
  2. Don't move your head. If you try to read at a breakneck speed, you will hurt your neck. Move your eyes instead.
  3. Practice not looking back at words. This is extremely important. Read a text, and note how your eyes tend to look back and read the same words repeatedly. In the beginning it takes a lot of concentration to read with a steady flow. The eyes will read a chunk of words, then another, and so on. However, don't get hung up on this: recognize that some texts simply require reading, rereading, and rereading again before comprehension begins to settle in. If you didn't understand something that you have just read, read it again (and again and again if necessary) before moving on. Well-written text repays close attention; but (of course) trashy novels or suchlike may be read using speed reading techniques with no loss. Remember that the goal of speed reading (or indeed any type of reading) is comprehension, not speed.
  4. At the end of the row, the eyes should move diagonally (the shortest path) to the next row.
  5. You can't read while your eyes are moving. When you read, your eyes should grasp a couple of words, then your gaze should jump forward in order to read the next couple of words. When you actually read, your eyes are not moving. In order to read as quickly as possible, read as many words as possible in each glance. Reading research shows that it is possible to read as many as two words at one time. So keep practicing.

Aiding Software edit

The key to success is concentration and therefore discipline. If you really want to practice the last point, reading as large chunks of words as possible, you can create a computer program which writes two words on the screen with a space between them. Both words should be read at once, not one after the other. As you practice, enlarge the space between the two words. Another idea is to write a program which shows a text and as you press the space bar it begins to make the text invisible one word at a time (or maybe x words at a time). In that way, you are forced to continue reading, you cannot look back. If you write any of these programs, which shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, please make them available for everyone here. (Shouldn't the code be posted to Wikisource, under Source Code?)

Yet another option which may be more viable for some is using available speed reading software package. Among the best are The Reader's Edge, RocketReader and AceReader, though of course many others exist. Most of these programs will have grouping, flash, memory, speed reading, and shadow exercises.