5 Ways to Improve Reading Speed and Retention

How can I read more quickly?
We’ve all asked ourselves this at somepoint.
The solution is simple: Skim first and don’t subvocalize.

If you have a stack of books that you want to read, or things you have to read for work or school, it can be disheartening to feel as if you just can’t read quickly enough. Similarly, you want to be able to remember and comprehend most all that you take in, not forget it hours later. To help boost your reading speed and improve your memory, try out these 5 tips next time you pick up a book:

1. Stop subvocalizing

When people first learn how to read, they’re taught to sound out the words in their heads. However, once you’re proficient in reading, this habit of subvocalizing can unnecessarily slow you down. One way to stop subvocalizing is to press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, which prevents you from physically saying each word you read. As you break this habit, you’ll be capable of reading much faster than the average speed of 300 words per minute.

2. Skim through the text first

If you’ve ever had to cram for a test, you’ve likely scanned through your textbook quickly to look for key phrases, terms to know, and other important information. This same technique is a good way to prime yourself before focusing on reading the full chapter. Skimming prepares your mind for the main concepts and free your brain to comprehend more of the details.

3. Don’t re-read words

It can be easy to accidentally reread a previous line or jump around as you try to focus on a page. In fact, most people tend to do this! Just watch someone’s eyes as they read, and you’ll notice that their eyes seem to flit to random areas instead of moving smoothly from side to side. Although it may feel juvenile at first, try to keep yourself focused on the right place in the text by following along the words with your finger or using a reading ruler. If you have a Kindle, try using it’s reading ruler.

4. Focus on the keywords

Literature expert and journalist Esther Lombardi says that people often waste too much time reading unnecessary articles, conjunctions, and prepositions (words such as: a, I, but, am, are, and, but, nor, etc.). Look out for the keywords mentioned instead and guide your attention to those subjects instead.

5. Share what you learned

If you often feel like you immediately forget what you just read, get in the habit of sharing what you learned or what happened to a character. Talking to a friend about your book will give you a chance to summarize and explain what happened, which will help cement the information in your own memory.

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