I’m an avid reader, and I always like to think of myself as a quick one – if I like a book I can devour it in seemingly no time at all, but I’ve always been curious if I can go faster. Today’s new thing is a little similar to the speed typing test I did a few weeks ago, except this time, I wanted to look at some ways to improve my speed reading.
There are some schools of thought that increasing how many words you read per minute can improve how effectively you learn and absorb information. The theory is that by speed reading you only absorb the most important bits of information, and are therefore a more efficient reader. I’m not so certain of this, but I decided to measure my reading comprehension alongside my speed out of curiosity.
I went to ReadingSoft.com to check my base score and was surprised to come out with 350 words per minute and a 82% comprehension. This, according to their graph, puts me above the average level, something I was quite happy with. Still, I wanted to see if I could improve on this, and researched a few different techniques including skimming the text for the basic information, and finger tracing. Most people’s reading speed is the same level as their speaking speed as we tend to read the words out loud in our heads. A schoolteacher named Evelyn Wood discovered that she was able to read quicker if her eyes followed her finger as she traced the lines of text and used it as a pacer to increase speed.
I decided to try this method on a few different websites so I could effectively measure the comprehension and was amazed that my wpm had jumped up to just over 500 yet my comprehension, in most cases, was way down at 25%.
This was a fun little experiment but the message to me was clear, reading quicker only lowers your comprehension of a text, and actually makes learning a lot less efficient than reading at a natural pace. I’ll be going back to my leisurely, yet still quite quick reading speed from now on!