This method is proven to increase reading speed at an average of 386%!
Tim Feriss of FourHourWorkWeek.com has a proven way to increase reading speed and maintain comprehension. Here is his video explaining the process, and my summary of it.
3 Problems That Slow Down Reading
1. Your eyes “jump” when you read.
Although you don’t realize it, your eyes actually jump across the page while you read. Although the time it takes to jump to each spot on the page is minuscule, it adds up very quickly when it comes to reading thousands or tens of thousands of words.
2. You “back-skip” when you read.
Time adds up quickly when you’re reading everything twice. Back-skipping is where you subconsciously reread material. This must be eliminated.
3. You don’t use peripheral vision while reading.
Untrained readers are unable to use horizontal peripheral vision span during reading. In other words, they see fewer words while looking at the center of the page than a trained speed reader can see.
3 Solutions To These Problems
- Problems 1 and 2 will be resolved by the use of trackers and pacers.
- Problem three will be resolved by perceptual expansion.
Right now, this seems confusing and means nothing to you. However, it will all make sense very quickly!
Step 1. Determining Your Baseline
In nursing, we want to start off every patient by knowing their baseline vital signs, lab values, et cetera. The same can be said for this program. This can be done two different ways. Manually, with a book (such as a textbook) or online with a speed reading test. The textbook takes a little bit more work to calculate, but I prefer it because it makes the process easier overall. Plus, you might as well be reading what you have to study anyway.
- Lay your textbook out flat on a table.
- Count the number of words in the first 5 lines.
- Divide this number by 5 to get the average number of words-per-line.
- Now count the number of lines on the next 5 pages and divide by 5 to get the average number of lines-per-page.
- Multiply lines-per-page by words-per-line to get the average number of words per page
- Mark your first line and read for exactly one minute at your normal pace, not sped up. After one minute is up, multiply the number of lines by your average words-per-line to get your words-per-minute (WPM).
- 62 words/5 lines = 12.4 (or 12) words-per-line
- 154 lines/5 pages = 30.8 (or 31) lines-per-page
- 12 words/line x 31 lines = 372 words per page.
- After reading for one minute, you’ve read 18 lines.
- 18 lines x 12 words-per-line = 216 WPM
1B. Online Speed Reading Test
You can determine your baseline reading speed in words-per-minute (WPM) by using this free Online Speed Reading Test.
- Press “Start” to begin.
- Read the article at a normal pace.
- Press “Stop” when you have completed it.
- Take the comprehension test.
- Write down your results.
Step 2. Using Trackers and Pacers
2A. What is a Tracker and Pacer?
How would you count the number of words on the page? You would skim with your finger to follow the words, right? This shows the importance of having a tracker. With your dominant hand, use a capped pin to “underline” each line. Keep your eyes fixated on the top of the pen. This will help you keep your spot and not back-skip. Right now you’re probably thinking “Duh! People do this all the time!” Stick with me and you’ll see how this process will change your life.
2B. Practicing Technique
Practice using the pen as a tracker and pacer for 2 minutes, focusing on the tip of the pen. Do NOT worry about comprehension. Allow yourself ~1 second per line. Read the words, but do not worry about remembering them. At this point in your training we are teaching speed. Comprehension comes later.
2C. Increasing Speed
Repeat this technique for 3 minutes. Focus on the tip of the pin. Allow yourself 0.5 seconds per line. You will likely not retain any of this information, which is normal. Just keep practicing on focusing on a consistent pace with no back-skipping. You might feel that it is worthless, but your eyes are being trained for what lies ahead.
3. Perceptual Expansion
3A. What is Perceptual Expansion?
If you look at the center of your textbook, you can still see the rest of the textbook. Training your peripheral vision to work more effectively has been shown to increase the speed of reading by up to 300%. Untrained readers spend half of their time moving from the last word of a sentence back to the first word. By eliminating this problem reading becomes much easier.
3B. Practicing Technique
For two minutes use the pen to track and pace at a consistent speed of one line per second. Begin 2 words from the first word of each line, and end two words from the last word of each line. Your peripheral vision will begin to better register the words at the beginning and ends of the lines. If you need a visual aid to help keep you from reaching the last few words of each line, use a ruler and lightly draw a line down the left side of the page ~2 words in and on the right side of the page ~2 words in. Make sure your pen stays between these lines. Check out the image below for guidance.
3C. Increasing Speed
For three minutes begin at least 3 words from the first word of each line and end at least 3 words before the end of the line. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to ~0.5 seconds and no longer. Again, you will likely not retain much, if any, information. Keep repeating this process for ~20 minutes.
After practice, go back to your original article and use these new techniques. Read as fast as you can while maintaining the ability to comprehend the material. Draw your lines 2-3 words in from the margins, follow your pen, and move quickly with no back-skipping. Repeat the process of Step 1 in this tutorial. If you practiced hard, you will see great results! For best results, practice daily. The more you practice, the faster you’ll read.
Ferris also suggests that if you are using this method to study, rather than reading 3 assignments in the time it would take one, read the same assignment three times for exposure and recall improvement.
Let me know how you do by tweeting me @NTKnurse!