How to Improve your Reading Speed

Naturally, reading speeds vary from person to person. What's considered a fast reading speed for one person might be quite pedestrian to another, so it's important to keep in mind that when you're trying to increase your reading speed you don't use other people or other measurements as a yardstick. The goal, as an exam taker, is not to develop a blistering pace when it comes to reading, but to maximise your own reading efficiency and to read faster by your own standards.

In order to understand how you can increase your reading speed, you first need to know about the causes that can decrease your reading speed. Many factors can slow down your reading speed, such as:

  • Word-by-word reading
  • Slow reaction time
  • Slow comprehension
  • Vocalisation (the need of a reader to 'voice' the words as they read them to be able to comprehend the text)
  • Inability to maintain attention
  • Lack of retention (resulting in having to re-read sentences and paragraphs)
  • Lack of reading practice
  • Deliberate slow reading in order to try to maximize comprehension
  • Attempting to remember everything rather than remembering selectively

This list is by no means comprehensive as there are many, many other factors which can affect your reading speed But knowing that there are many factors that affect your reading speed, some that you can control and some that you can't, gives you a good opportunity to fine tune your approach to reading and studying.

And while the factors listed above undoubtedly slow down your reading speed, a closer look at the list will show that many of these factors will probably also lead to a lowering of reading comprehension. As such, it stands to reason that by eliminating as many of these factors as possible, both your comprehension rate and reading rate should increase.

Speed reading therefore is not simply about moving your eyes faster over the text, it's also about eliminating the bottlenecks that prevent you from reading, and learning, as efficiently as you can.

The next section discusses some simple techniques you can adopt to squeeze a bit more speed and comprehension out of your reading.