Modern Education: How to Excel at Long Reading Assignments

June 29, 2021

Last Updated on June 29, 2021


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Why do we read slowly?

Rapid reading techniques are aimed at eliminating factors that slow down the process. Therefore, before talking about speed, let’s see what reduces it.

While reading, the eye makes many separate movements. To perceive a fragment of the text, we must fix our sight on it. The duration of one fixation is only ¼ seconds. Most people can read only one word during this moment. To increase your reading speed, you need to read more words in a given moment.

Pronouncing the text while reading

Reading a small number of words in one fixation is usually associated with the pronunciation of the text while reading. Most often, we kind of hear the words inside our heads, that is, mentally pronounce the text, sometimes moving our lips while doing this. As a result, the reading speed decreases, because in this case, we read at the same speed as we speak (about 150 words per minute). 

You should get rid of this habit. We think much faster than we speak. Looking at a picture of a car, we instantly understand what it is. Why should one say (silently or aloud) the words written on paper? To increase the reading speed, you need to remove the extra link.

Rereading text fragments

If we constantly return to a particular text fragment, our reading speed also decreases. Many people do this unconsciously. After reading a piece of text, they automatically reread it over and over again. As a rule, this happens due to a lack of concentration or fear that without repeated reading the text will not be remembered.

Distraction and lack of attention

If you can’t focus on reading and your thoughts are somewhere far away, you are far from fast reading. Do you interrupt reading to ponder over what you have read, delve into its meaning, and connect new knowledge with what you have learned earlier? Or even worse – are you distracted by dreaming about dinner while reading? Then you are unlikely to learn anything and finish your text in time.

How to read faster? Techniques and Tips

Mastering fast reading techniques allows you to increase your speed 2-3 times without compromising the perception of the material.

Tip #1. Reading with your finger

This technique stipulates adjusting the pace of reading with your finger. Place your finger at the beginning of the line, and then slide to the right as you read. To get used to the movement of your finger, first read at your usual speed, and then gradually increase it, following the “regulator”. This technique is useful in the way that it restricts you from returning to what you have read and sets a high pace of reading. It is better to use your finger, but you can replace it with a pen or stylus. When reading from a tablet, you can use a stylus as a pointer.

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Tip #2. More words in one sight

You already know that the duration of one sight fixation is ¼ of a second. To increase your reading speed, you should read 2-3 words at a time. For many, this speed is unusual, but it is not at all difficult to achieve. Join the fingers of your right hand and extend your palm in front of you. Focus on the index finger. At the same time, you see the middle and other fingers, although you only look at the index, right?

Once you have learned to adjust the reading pace with your finger and read several words at a time, you can continue to increase your speed. It will be difficult to understand the meaning of what you have read for a while, but do not be disappointed: the ability to comprehend what you read will soon improve. Try to read at the same speed as your finger moves.

Tip #3. Do not pronounce the text while reading

Getting rid of this habit is the hardest thing to do. Some people never succeed in this. But with other fast reading techniques mentioned here, your reading speed will be so fast that you simply won’t be able to pronounce the text (or at least every word). Each new step in the fight against the pronunciation of the text increases the speed of reading.

Practice makes perfect

Learning to read quickly takes time and practice. For most students, it is sufficient to exercise 20 minutes a day at least for a month. During this period, it is important to constantly monitor and track your reading speed. Understanding the meaning of what you read will follow with practice.

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