The average American reads around 250-300 words to minute. Some are more advanced than others and can read anywhere from 500-1000 words per minute. At such high speeds, comprehension can be very difficult, especially if you are speed reading. On the other end of things, some people read at a much slower rate. This may be due to any number of factors. Wherever you fall in this category, there are ways to improve both speed and comprehension. First, you must understand that your technique may need to change.

Most likely, the first time you were taught to read was in either kindergarten or the first grade. You may still have the habit of reading words under your breath as you go along the page, or you may be at the stage where you read the words in your head. In both cases, you would be hindering your ability to read at higher speeds. Reading aloud slows your pace down. If you find yourself taking one, two, or even three minutes to read a page of a book, you are in luck. Another major reason why you may take longer to read is because you daydream on the job. Focus your attention on the story, and only the story. Set your stress and worries aside and get engaged with the reading. Daydreaming while reading causes you to have to reread paragraphs or entire pages. If a book seems to be boring you, take a rest or refocus your attention. Keep in mind that this applies to textbooks, articles, and any other reading material. There are a few simple solutions.

First and foremost, understand that there are both good and bad environments to be reading. This is half the battle. Never read with loud noises in the background. For obvious reasons, this will be a distraction. It is your job to experiment with different locations to find your ideal reading spot. This may be on your bed, at your desk, or in a library. Shut off all communications and notifications for the time being and focus on the material in front of you.

Practice makes perfect, right? Wrong! There is no “perfect” reading speed just as there is no utopian society. No reading speed can be said to be “perfect” simply because there will always

be flaws in your technique. You can continuously improve your speed, but at some point, the ability to comprehend both words and meaning is hindered. There is an optimal reading speed that allows you to both read at your fastest pace and comprehend the most amount of information at once. This is your target. Do not take this the wrong way. You still need a great deal of practice, but just know that there is no perfection in reading, other than your peak rate.

Nevertheless, it is essential to practice as often as possible. Find the time to incorporate a reading schedule into your routine. Obviously you have a job or classes to attend, so you will have to use your free time to do so. Set goals for yourself. You can choose to read as little as 10 pages or 100 per day. Make sure you are consistently meeting those goals to ensure you get enough practice. Practice also includes expanding your vocabulary. So often do readers get stumped with complex wording that they have to stop and look up the word in a dictionary. Do not let this be you. You can typically infer what the word means from the context of the sentence. Also, you can spend an hour or two a few times a week to learn new words. There are many applications you can download on your phone to help with this. And chances are an author will repeat words later on in their writing. Make flashcards!

A great method of approach is having a few sessions per week of timed reading. Set a timer for either ten, twenty, or thirty minutes, and see how many pages you can read. It is quite incredible how the human brain works under pressure, regardless of what people typically say. Record your results in a journal and keep track week by week. With every new session, you will want to push yourself further to increase your speed. Pace has a lot to do with your mentality at the time you are reading. If you trick yourself to thinking there will be a reward for getting through a certain number of pages in the given time, you will perform better.

On the idea of tricking the mind, tell yourself that your book contains life changing information at the end of the chapter. The mind does not like to be kept waiting, and thus will work harder to get through the material.

Say goodbye to that little noise inside your head that reads every single word as you progress along the pages. It can only read as fast as you speak. This is going to take a lot of practice, but the idea is to let your eyes flow along the page as fast as you possibly can whilst still understanding them. Start looking at words in groups of three and let your inner voice be put to rest. Put an end to reading one word at a time. The human brain is capable of understanding a lot more than that at once. Your peripheral vision can play a huge role. Use it to your advantage!

You may want to try reading more difficult material. Some authors use difficult language in their works, which may be a key factor in your overall advancement. Put your techniques to the test with all genres, not just one. Explore fiction, non-fiction, history, biographies, or fantasy. Do some research on authorial prose before heading to the bookstore.

Lastly, forget the old fashioned way of using a bookmark to guide your way down the page. This limits your eyes to only one line at a time, but as you grow stronger in skillet, you will be able to read more than one line per second. The human eyes get deceived enough as it is. Do not restrain them to only one line at a time.

Before you know it, you will have doubled or tripled your words per minute. Just as with typing can only be progressed with proper practice, so too can reading. Always remember to give yourself breaks in between reading, and keep a bottle of water by your side in case you get thirsty. Lastly, reading is knowledge. Keep an open mind about it and set yourself up for improvement.

Previous articleEffective Ways to be Rid of Bad Habits
Next articleAsk the VEEP: Arts and Science Majors
I radiate both internally and externally, an infinitude of passion for creative thought, an unending lifelong code of self and peer-improvement, and an idiosyncratic perspective and outlook on all things good, bad, and in between. I believe that when we are, one day, gone, all that will have mattered is what we did to change this world, for better or worse.