Double Your Reading Speed With These Skimming Strategies

Many commercial speed reading programs are pretty wacky – and scholars question their legitimacy.

Speed Reading is more about skimming than anything else. It means quickly going through the document to get a feel for whats being said.

Its not helpful when reading literature that requires serious thinking, but its definitely a plus when you just need to get a gist of what the text is about.

Here are some helpful tips on speed reading from

Read with Your Hand
Smooth, consistent eye motion is essential to speed reading. You can maximize your eyes efficiency by using your hand to guide them. One such method is to simply draw your hand down each page as you read. You can also brush your hand under each line you read, as if you are brushing dust off the lines. Your eyes instinctively follow motion, and the movement of your hand serves to keep your eyes moving constantly forward. Note, however, that many speed reading instruction books warn off using a tracking member in speed reading as it inhibits the process. Try not to become dependent on using your hand or fingers.

Read Blocks of Words
Nearly everyone learned to read word-by-word or even letter-by-letter, but once you know the language, thats not the most efficient method of reading. Not every word is important, and in order to read quickly, youll need to read groups of words – or even whole sentences or short paragraphs – instantaneously. The good news is you probably already do this to some extent: most people read three or four words at a time. Once you make an effort to be aware of your reading style, youll discover how many words you read at a time. Now you just need to increase that number. Using your hand as a guide may help, as may holding the book a little further from your eyes than you usually do.

Dont Read to Yourself
As you read you probably subvocalise, or pronounce the words to yourself. Almost everybody does it, although to different degrees: some people actually move their lips or say the words under their breath, while others simply say each word in their heads. Regardless of how you subvocalise, it slows you down. (You are concerned with speed reading here, not reading to practice communicating the material verbally, which can be done later if you find it necessary.)

To break the habit, try to be conscious of it. When you notice yourself pronouncing words to yourself, try to stop doing it. It may help to focus on key words and skip over others, or you may want to try humming to yourself in order to prevent subvocalising. One exercise to stop your lips from moving is to put one of your fingers or a long but safe object (for example, a pencil) into your mouth and keep it there while you read.

Quickly Skim Over the Filler
No matter what youre reading, there is frequently a lot of filler that you can read quickly through or even skim over. With practice, youll be able to identify the most important parts of a book as you skim through it. When you get to such a passage, slow down. Before you begin a chapter or book, look over the entire piece very quickly.

Try to find patterns of repeated words, key ideas, bold print and other indicators of important concepts. Then, when you actually do your reading you may be able to skim over large portions of the text, slowing only when you come to something you know is important.

There are a bunch more skimming tips at . . .

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