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How to read faster

Published on 22 October 2018·Latest update at 14 August 2019

It almost sounds like magic: reading faster. When you are a student you will probably know the struggle of needing to read thousands of pages. It will save you a lot of time if you can read a bit faster. You can learn this by following a few easy steps! We have listed a few techniques to learn how to read faster, without missing any important information while studying.


Do not read out loud 

How did you learn to read? Chances are that you learned by reading out loud. This is the reason why we often unconsciously read out loud or vocalize the words in our head. However, this may slow down our reading: we simply can’t read faster than we speak. Try to focus on your breathing while reading, this will help you to not read out loud (but in your head).


Use a pointer

Another technique to read faster is to use a pointer. The muscles of your eye are easily coordinated when you point at the words you need to read with a pen or pencil. Therefore, moving a pen along the sentences will aid you in reading faster. It is recommended to take breaks when using this technique because it requires concentration and a good focus. 

You could also try to cover the rest of the text with an index card. This way, you won't get distracted by the rest of the text. Another way to practice this technique is by using an app. There are several brain game apps available on your mobile phone and online. These apps contain exercises that help you to progress on your reading speed and enhance your study techniques.


Don’t look back in the text

We tend to look back a few words while reading a text. This happens because you get the idea that you missed a word or a few sentences. Still, when you go back a few words it will probably cost you the additional time you need to re-read. Try to keep on reading so that you stay in the right flow. This way you will stay alert. If you notice that it happens a lot, consider taking a small break to regain your focus and concentration. This is a study tactic that will help you to study effectively since you save time by reading faster.


Try to read as much hard copy as possible

According to scientific studies, people tend to read around 30% faster when reading from paper rather than reading from a screen. This is probably because it is harder to keep track of the text, causing the reader to return to previous paragraphs to re-read. In addition, studying from paper allows you to make notes in the margins and highlight important sentences easier. It can thus be a good idea to print your summaries. 


Set the goal to read faster

You can keep improving yourself to read faster, by setting a goal. Still, you should value quality over quantity, especially when reading textbooks for study purpose. Set a timer for one minute and try to read as many words as you can. After that, try to read 10 more in another minute. It is definitely hard to speed up your pace every time, so try to speed up in small steps to be sure that you still understand what you are reading.


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