Idiot's Guide to Speed Reading

*speed reading increases the amount of information your brain receives in a limited amount of time. it also allows you to receive large amounts of information in a short period of time.*

so you want to learn how to speed read? its pretty easy, but unfortunately, in order to speed read, you have to actually read books in advance to get your mind stimulated.

anyways... on with the reading!!!

sorry for the internet pics. my digi-cam was not working, so i was forced to use these pictures. now lets go onwards!!!


Step 1: Speed Reading Overview

speed reading will:

  • increase the number of words you read in each block
  • reduce the length of time spent reading each block
  • reduce the number of times your eyes skip back to a previous sentence

also, you will amaze your friends by reading so fast and will definitely help with english exams and other similar tests.


before you read ANYTHING, you should be aware of what you are about to read. this will help for understanding the text better, rather than just lunging in and reading. if you have no idea on what you are going to read, start of slowly and pick up the pace from there.

in addition...

if you are taking a test and whatnot, read the questions first. this will allow you to skim the text and look for what you need, providing a general outline for your brain. doing this will enable you to save time while grasping the context at the same time.

Step 2: How to Increase the Amount of Words You Read

first of all, you need to practice reading. you cant just expect to start speed reading, so grab a book and practice. in this step you need to expand the number of words you read in the selected text. also, try holding your book away from you so your eyes can focus on more words at once.

for practice, read this excerpt and time yourself. i was able to read it in a few seconds, but i have had practice. aim for under ten seconds, then move on to the next step. if you fail, read the next excerpt and try harder this time.

excerpt #1:

"Town Guard marches in from the northeast
Town Guard spots Legoless!
Legoless comes out of hiding
"Morning," says the guard.
"Morning" you say.
Town Guard says 'Let us kill all the outlaws Silk'
Dotanyan says 'Sweet'
You see the guard look you over.
Town Guard says 'Let us kill them without any thought, it is what they want'
Psyche blinks.
Silk says 'Um '
Anj blinks.
Silk says 'Okay '
Anj says 'Uh... '
You cheer heartily.
Psyche grins at Silk.
Anj lets out a big "WOW!"
Town Guard marches to the southeast
Dotanyan says 'I like this town guard'
Psyche exclaims 'Town Guards fight back!'
Psyche cheers!
Anj says 'A talking Town Guard...'
Dotanyan says 'Hey.. come back'
Anj gives a quick grin.
Psyche grins at you.
You give a quick grin.
Psyche says 'I think it should come back'
Psyche says 'I want to tell him to quit checking me out'
Psyche shudders at the thought of it all.
Dotanyan says 'Me too'
Dotanyan says 'I am married for gosh sake'
Psyche laughs happily.
You give a quick grin."

excerpt #2:

"Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.

Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.

Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.

Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.

Stock up and save. Limit: one.

Semi-Annual after-Christmas Sale.

3-year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.

Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.

Dinner Special-Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00

For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.

We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.

For sale. Three canaries of undermined sex.

Great Dames for sale.

Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition."

Step 3: Reduce the Number of Times Your Eyes Skip Back

no, this isnt because of some mental problem that you have and dont know of. when you read, your eyes sometimes looks to the words previous for whatever reason. it could be because you are re-reading something to grasp it better, or you just didnt read the whole word. nevertheless, there is a solution!!

the solution

when you read, try reading with a pointer. using a pencil, laser pointer, or your own finger, your eyes will follow the pointer, thus allowing you to read faster and more efficiently. your eyes will read at the same speed the pointer moves. however, if you move the pointer to fast, your eyes will just literally skim through everything and you wouldnt be actually reading. this is called pretending to speed read. if you continue to do this, you will be screwed for university and beyond. of course, unless you are REALLY good at speed reading, then you will be good to go. :)

Step 4: Now Speed Your Read!!!

ok, now you know the key points on how to speed read. but can you actually do it? it takes lots of practice, but in the end, it all pays off. if you suffer from too much information, like for tests and stuff, speed reading helps. also, if you need to read large amounts of text in short periods of time, speed reading will help.


speed reading is only good if you just need and outline. if you need to understand the in-depth context and if you must understand it fully, you might want to reconsider speed reading. the safest way would just to read it slowly so you can understand it much clearer. reading something once slowly is faster than reading something quickly, not understanding it, then reading it again.

now you know what you need to know to speed read. now go out there and SPEED YOUR READ!!!!



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    15 Discussions


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, that helps greatly. ... Picking up speed keeps you from having time to vocalize, and not vocalizing allows you to pick up speed. ... Part of a hard habit to brake.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    make that 'break'. Yea, I don't spell well either. Never have. One more hint, do this is sessions. Don't try to do it all at once. It won't work. I think folks need time to let new things 'sink in', the same goes for developing new habits and breaking old ones.


    I'm a real slow reader. This'll help me a lot :) if i actually want to read...I guess i'll try it next year...when school starts

    1 reply

    Try it on reading things you don't care about during the summer. That way you will have the technique down for when the crunch hits in the fall! If school has a suggested 'summer reading list' those might be good places to start. Or go to the gutenberg project web site and download some books online for free (old, out of copyright). Many clasics. But to start get something you might like to read, light reading, and just start on them. That way it will be pretty enjoyable. The library is a great and cheap source of books. The librarian will be impressed with you taking out 5 or 10 books at a time! ... But return them when done to keep the house un-cluttered and keep the library fines down ;)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I used to read much faster, but that's definitely dropped away in the past year. I'd kill to get that back. So, I guess I'll give this a try!

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction


    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    we read junk novels. Things that no one realy cared about mainly. Pick scifi, drama, crawl in the grass romance, whatever. In the class we all had the same books. Started out by going to the first chapter, and we did a timed reading. 10 min or so and counted the words read. That got your initial reading speed. Mark where you stopped. Now go back and read the SAME section again for another period (10 min) and see how much further you get. Wash, rense, repeat. You will be amazed at how much further you get each time. Try to push yourself to go to a bit faster each time. Now go to a new section (or start from where you left off) and do it again. Your time on the 'fresh material' will go down, but not to where it was before. Part of the class was the comprehension side. There were 'tests' on what we read in the story. Kind of hard to do if you are doing this alone. Eventually they suggeted using your fingertip as a focus point. Draw it down the middle of the column of new sprint or a novel, and work at exercising your peripheral vision. Not moving your eyes to words and seeing phrases helps with speed greatly. At first it does not help, later it does. Practicing reading faster (speed reading is a diferent skill, like JFK did) is a learned skill. Some naturally read faster, but even slow readers, like me, can read at reasonable rates (If I would go back an practice what I know!) I read almost everything like a math text book. Where every and / the / or / or anything had great impact on the context of the subject matter. Most books are NOT written that way. Most are written to be read just like we speak and hear, smoothly, quickly, and to communicate feelings and interestes rather than detailed facts. I have learned to skim (a different technique) articles, magazines, and even books. There you read sections and pick out what is of interest to you. You WILL miss things skimming. But it has helped me.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is similar to a technique I was taught at a local Jr. College in a summer reading course on 'Rapid Reeding'. It isn't the same a 'speed reading' but real high velocity reading is hard to do but most can do it with enough practice. Even 'rapid reading' like this gets better with practice. In the class I took (that helped me a LOT in college) they had us get cheap novels (all the same for everyone in the class to make it easier on the instructor) and we would start reading, using a timer for 2 minutes, we would mark where we got. At the end of each week, we used the same book, to see how far we got starting at the same point. I barely finished a couple of pages when I started, and got to 20 by the end of the class (6 weeks later). This also helped me get faster at reading everything, novels, magazines, math text, ... everything, and it raises comprehension too. Anyway, if you are having trouble reading slowly, try this, with practice it should work well. The more you practice, the better it should work!

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    It was a daily class. We read daily both in class and out. Comprehension and speed exams were taken at both the start and end of the class. My comprehnesion went from something like 98% to 95% but speed picked up immensely. Most reasonable readers went from 60% to 80% comprehension and their speed picked up substantially.