How to Speed Read

I’ve known for many years that I can read at a significantly faster pace than is perhaps average when necessary.  However, I can recognize in my own reading, as backed up by literature, that there is a trade off between reading comprehension and speed that eventually becomes problematic.  But for those interested in learning more about the process, here are some notes.

  1. There is no single way to learn how to read faster that will work for everyone.  Reading is a complex process, with a lot of mental moving parts, and there’s no real way to “hack” it, unlike what some clickbait-y sites might want to make you believe.  If you want a useful review of the research thus far, check out this review journal article.
  2. There may be some truth to increasing the speed of eye movement leading to a higher reading rate, but it appears that structural constraints built into human eyes leads to a limit of reading speed.
  3. Trying to expand the area that you focus on, in an effort to take in more information as you go, does work to increase the reading speed, but the connection between a larger visual span and reading speed is more complicated than just “see more/read more.”

It’s not to say that reading speed can’t be increased, and that high speed skimming and reading can’t be achieved.  But be skeptical of people advertising to know of the “one thing” to do to make it possible for everyone.  The research says that they’re wrong.  Eyes and brains are just too complex to pin it all down to a single variable that you can “fix.”

How do you read faster in a pinch?

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