Reading is a very common activity, in fact, it is quite essential to most of us. Whether we are enjoying a book, reflecting on a history lesson, praying from a hymnbook, or simply sending messages, in all of these common activities our brain is engaged in the common activity known as reading.
So, in a world where reading is of such importance, it would only seem logical for us to ask ourselves how we can read faster? For this reason, in this article we will try to answer that question while also exploring the concept of “speed reading”.
Reading is nowadays probably just as common as the act of talking. In fact, I would venture to say that in many countries, people communicate more through messaging (in other words, through reading), than verbally.
Most people are satisfied with having an average reading level. But there are some people (most likely you’re one of them) who simply aren’t content with their reading abilities. For these people, their reading level, which although is probably quite good, is not good enough. In order to achieve improvements, you may need to start working on your speed reading.
What is the average reading speed?
Many of you want to know how to read a book fast. First of all, we need to know what the crossover point from normal reading to speed reading is. When do we go from being average readers to actual pros?
We’ll take as an average reading speed for adults a number of 250 words per minute. Obviously, the speed with which you can read and remember something depends highly on the difficulty and complexity of that text, but for now, we’ll stick to this number.
How to test your reading speed?
Now, the first step in improving your reading efficiency is to find out where you stand. Consequently, I invite you to evaluate your reading speed using an online reading speed test.
Some websites will simply give you a sample text to read, and once you’ve finished, you’ll need to answer some questions about the text, after which you’ll get your results.
Other tests are more complex and ask you to select a type of text, and then choose a difficulty level.
Alternatively, you can go a different way and simply time yourself using a stopwatch. You can simply estimate your speed by timing how long it takes you to read a page and find out your words per minute value according to the estimated number of words on the page.
Now, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of accessing a website from your computer every time you want to test your reading speed, you can use a reading app like Basmo.
Basmo is a mobile app that, among many other things, allows you to record your reading time and the number of pages you read in that time, offering you accurate information to help you calculate your average reading speed.
To do this with Basmo, simply follow the steps below:
- Open the Basmo app on your phone or tablet.
- Search for the book you are currently reading.
- Start a reading session by tapping on Start Session, and the app will start timing your time spent reading.
- Start reading a page from the book and once you are done, simply tap on End Session in the top right corner of your screen.
- Calculate your reading speed according to the estimated number of words on the page and the time you spent reading it.
Furthermore, you can test your reading speed while enjoying your favourite books, as opposed to reading random texts on the website test pages.
What is a good reading speed?
As with any other activity, the more time you spend doing something, the better you become at it. Consequently, some people are better readers than others, and sometimes faster. But being fast is not the only important factor when it comes to reading. Another factor that is of the utmost importance, is comprehending what you read. If you are a fast reader but understand and retain close to nothing, then it doesn’t really help you.
Therefore, in the beginning, a good reading speed is one where you are able to make sense of and remember what you read. With time, practice and experience, you will be able to read texts faster and better than when you began.
You may reach speeds up to 500 words per minute. But remember, never compromise understanding in the favor of speed. It is not in your interest.
If you’re looking for ways of improving your level of comprehension, using an app like Basmo can be of great help. It allows you to make notes while reading, to save your favorite quotes from the books you’re reading, which greatly improve your experience.
You will remember more from what you read and enjoy and you will also have a better understanding of the texts you go through.
Want to start reading more?
Try Basmo book tracker today!
Basmo can easily help you set and reach your reading early goals. It’s super easy to use and 100% free to download, so what have you got to lose?
Why do I read so slow?
Some readers may at this point begin to have doubts or second thoughts about their reading abilities. You may have the impression that your reading is in fact quite slow and staggering. It may seem to you that it takes forever for you to flip the page. Some of the factors that can cause slow reading are:
When a person is already tired, they are more likely to stumble among words, jump over a row, or simply lose track of where they were. Even if you do try to trudge your way through the text in spite of your fatigue, you’re likely not to retain much of the information.
A reasonable solution to this problem is to simply put the book down and rest. Once you’ve got some much-needed shut-eye, you’ll be much more effective at reading.
Many readers encounter blockages while reading caused by difficult words or expressions which they do not understand or know the meaning of. For words that have unusual structures, we are slowed in our comprehension as well as in our vocalization of this word because we are not familiar with its aspect and sound.
For this reason, some readers keep a physical or digital dictionary handy. Although this slows their overall reading process, it will serve them well in the long run by improving their vocabulary and their understanding of the text.
Oftentimes the environment around us can pose a serious risk to our reading speed. Imagine trying to read a book while seated on a bench in a crowded adventure park. Now imagine trying to read the same book on a bench in a remote park. The lack of distracting noise and visuals while reading can definitely improve your attention and focus.
Although as mentioned previously, our environment is a big factor, it is not enough. We can be seated in a quiet library, yet still be unable to concentrate. Thus, we need to form our own mechanisms for focusing. This may mean taking a short break every hour or having a secondary activity to do while reading.
Is it OK to read slowly?
Ok, so now you’ve understood what factors are at play. But maybe you’re one of the people who read slowly, but is not bothered by this. Maybe you even enjoy taking your time to read. But for those of you who want to read faster, but are having trouble and are wondering if it is ok to read slowly, the answer is… it depends. I know, that’s not the answer you were looking for, but hear me out.
Fast reading serves you only if you are able to attain the same amount of information in less time. The moment you start compromising comprehension for time, you have to ask yourself if it’s actually in your best interest. The good thing about real speed reading is that it can be done without compromising understanding.
That being said, if in the beginning you need to read slowly to understand, obviously this isn’t a problem. But the more you read, and the more you practice the steps I am about to present below, the better you’ll become. But in any case, regardless of the steps, don’t stop reading just because you think you’re too slow.
What is Speed Reading?
So what exactly is speed reading? It can be seen as the ability to read texts at high speeds while still understanding and retaining their essence. Basically, it’s simply fast reading. We all have books we want or need to read, but it takes some of us much more than others to finish them.
Some people can clear a whole shelf in a year while others are struggling to finish their third book by the time they are writing yet another New Year’s resolution.
How to read faster? (How to speed read)
When it comes to speed reading, there are apparently quite a few things you can take into account to improve your reading. Keep in mind that these tips to read faster don’t necessarily all work just as well for everyone. Feel free to try them and decide for yourself which ones actually help and which don’t.
In any case, here’s some tips that can help you learn how to read faster:
Stop pronouncing the words in your head (subvocalization)
We all have this habit of speaking the words in our minds when reading them. It comes naturally, but this means that we cannot read faster than we can speak. The solution would be to learn how to read without attributing mental sounds to the words. I haven’t yet mastered this, but they say the way to do it is to look at a word until you no longer pronounce it in your mind when you see it.
Learn how to pronounce words correctly and fluently
This is the alternative method, perhaps more accessible, to subvocalization. Instead of doing your best to extinguish your mental wording, observe how you pronounce the words, and jot down the words that make you pause or stutter.
To best figure out which words pose an issue for you, take some sentences and read them as fast as you can. Your tongue will probably get tripped on several words. Go over those words and repeat them until you have them mastered. Afterwards, reading them should pose much less of a problem, and you should be able to read the entire text in a much more fluid manner.
Quickly glance through the text before starting to read it (the skim-through method)
It is often recommended that readers have a quick look through the text before beginning to speed read it. This means quickly scanning the page to see what words or elements are most important.
Apparently, this method helps you have a feel and basic idea of the text even before you’ve begun to read it. This in turn can help you understand it better once you do start perusing it.
Disregard the unessential words
Yes, basically, if you really just care to read faster, you can start skipping over words that aren’t really of great importance to the message. I’m referring here to words like “and”, “it”, “are”, and so on.
Obviously, even these words can have great meaning in certain contexts, but often in a sentence there are numerous words that are simply not essential, and thus can be skipped. Sometimes it’s actually easier for readers to skip certain words because it makes the sentence more accessible.
You’ll want to be careful with this advice, however, because you don’t want to get to the point where you’ll start skipping words so often that it becomes a habit, and you find yourself doing it even in writing or when you speak.
Use something to keep track of where you are on the page
You can drag your finger or a pencil along the row as you read the words, or even use a ruler placed under the row you’re currently reading. This will help you keep a fluid reading pace and will prevent you from jumping over any rows.
One good way to do this is to have a reading hour or a set amount of time allocated in your schedule which is designated for reading. In this way, when you start reading, you know there isn’t anything else you should be doing at that moment, and you’ll have fewer distractions.
Also, make sure it is clear to you why you are reading. Whether it’s for personal development, the gain of knowledge, or simply for relaxation, it’s very important to know why you are investing that time in reading. When you clearly know, you will go about it with greater confidence.
Keep track of what you read, and how long it takes you
Unless you somehow hold yourself accountable, you won’t be able to accurately track your progress. It’s the same with any activity that requires perseverance. Unless you truly set your mind to it and dedicate yourself, you won’t be seeing your hard work pay off.
Reading apps are a great way of keeping track of your reading. You can simply install them on your mobile phone or tablet and through just a couple of taps, you will have a great tool at your fingertips.
You can make book collections, keep track of what titles you’ve already read, and make wishlists.
- Go to the My Books tab on your Basmo home screen.
- Scroll down to Book Collections and tap View all collections.
- Tap + Create book collection to add a new collection.
- You can name it anything you want and start adding books to it.
It also allows you to set a reading target and helps you reach it by allowing you to set daily reminders.
It can also work as an excellent incentive for reading by allowing you to save favorite paragraphs or to jot down notes with your feelings on what you just read.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it allows you to log the time you start and stop reading, and also the number of pages covered in this time.
To track your reading time in Basmo:
- Simply tap on any book in any collection.
- Then tap the Start session button if it’s a new book or the Continue from page X if it’s a book you’ve already started. This will start the counter.
- As soon as you tap End session the statistics will appear on your dashboard.
Thus, you can get an accurate idea of your average reading speed and you can see how you’re improving in the long run. So, if you want to improve your reading experience, head to your app store and install Basmo.
Ready to take your reading game to the next level?
Try Basmo book tracker today!
It’s 100% free to download, so what have you got to lose?
What are the benefits of speed reading?
It is said that speed reading can help you improve your memory as well as your focus. While reading in general probably has these effects, perhaps speed reading accentuates them.
Another obvious benefit of speed reading is that you can get through the same number of pages in a shorter amount of time, so basically you gain time by speed reading. This may seem unimportant, but if you are a serious reader, averaging at least an hour a day, the speed with which you read can certainly have a big impact on the amount of information you can work through in that one hour.
While we all know that reading has many benefits, not everyone has a clear idea of how effective reading can be in your life. We did a lot of research and compiled an amazing list of more than 20 benefits of reading for you.
What are the disadvantages of speed reading?
As I stated earlier, the main purpose of reading is to understand what you read. In other words, there’s no point in reading just for the sake of passing through words. If we don’t comprehend what we read, and don’t assimilate any of it, then we’re definitely doing something wrong.
That being said, one big disadvantage of speed reading can be that you don’t fully understand what you are reading. This also translated into lost time, because it can mean you need to go back and start over.
Another disadvantage could be that it can leave you feeling tired or unsatisfied. This may be a problem especially for people who see reading as a means of relaxation or divertisment. However, if that is the case, you can always adjust your reading style to be in accordance with what you want to get out of reading.
That’s about it on how to read faster. It’s definitely a good skill to have and can help readers ramp up their reading achievements. However, as with any good skill, just make sure you don’t exaggerate in trying to perfect it.
Reading is a healthy and beneficial activity, just make sure it remains so for you. Think of where you are now regarding the number of books read per year, imagine where you’d like to be, and make a plan.
Set a time interval allocated to reading and respect it. In the beginning it may be hard, but once you keep at it for a while and persevere, it might even become a lasting habit.
If you’re really serious about your reading and you want to improve your speed and efficiency, using a reading app can be a shortcut worth taking into account. If this sounds like something for you, check out Basmo and read all about its benefits and features.
Give Your Reading Experience
An Extra Boost With Basmo
Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time.