How to Speed Read

How to Speed Read

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.

What is one thing you could do that would help you in any subject? What’s a simple strategy that could improve your speed in tests, and as a consequence, your results?

Learn to speed read.

Speed reading is an underrated skill which allows you to get through content at a much quicker pace. Think of those time-limited exams, tests, reading your dreaded English books – and now, think about how much extra time you could gain if you could just get through the content a little bit faster.

It may be that you simply want to improve your reading speed if your speed is a little below average. It’s worth checking out online reading speed measures where you can see how many words per minute on average you read. On the other hand, you might want to dramatically increase your reading speed to save time.

Now, speed reading is not the way to go if you’re trying to memorise information. To memorise information, you need to read slowly, allowing the brain time to form connections. Remember that speed reading done poorly can result in a loss of comprehension. But if you’re willing to learn how to speed read well, you could benefit a lot from this newfound skill. Some people have even found that frequently practising speed-reading allows them to improve their focus, seeing this practice as a way of strengthening their brain.

Speed reading techniques

Subvocalization – some speed-reading specialists recommend avoiding subvocalization, which means eliminating the words you’re reading in your head. This is the internal speaking voice you hear when reading. However, if you get rid of subvocalization altogether, some believe that you will stop being able to comprehend what you are reading. After all, what’s the point of reading if you aren’t understanding the content? Instead, to speed-read, you should learn to subvocalize faster. If your inner voice is reading at the same speed as you would actually speak, speed-reading will be a struggle.

Use a pointer – try underlining the text as you read it with a finger, pen or other pointer. This will help reduce distractions as you read and will allow you to set a comfortable reading pace for yourself. Using a pointer is a method intended to help your eye find the words to concentrate upon.

Skim reading – this means going over the text too fast to totally comprehend everything, but instead picking out some selected parts. When some people talk about speed-reading, they actually mean skim reading. Skim reading isn’t useless, provided you use this technique wisely. One study has found that skim reading a text prior to actual reading improved comprehension for most participants.

Know what you’re looking for – you probably shouldn’t be speed-reading if you’re not sure what information or ideas you’re looking for from a text. Knowing what you’re looking for will give you something to focus on, and will give your mind something to look for as you are quickly reading – that time saved by speed-reading is wasted if you don’t actually learn anything!


If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: 3 Facts You Should Know About Your ATAR, Tips for Supporting Your Child in Year 11 and 12! and Will anyone care about your ATAR in a year?

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How to Speed Read