When starting to speed read, various techniques which increase reading speed should be acquired and then practiced regularly.
N.B. The suggested reading exercises below must be practiced for 20-30 minutes a day for approximately 6-8 weeks - this ensures that expertise in speed reading is acquired gradually.
Select a piece of unfamiliar generic prose to practice Speed Reading skills - reading research material slows down reading speed in the initial stages of acquiring these skills because the material will be of relevance to the reader (and hence of interest). The aim is to practice on unfamiliar generic material in the beginning stages and, once the skills are becoming more familiar, swapping after 3-4 weeks to apply the skills to material that is being read for research.
What type of reader are you?
- How many hours a week do you spend reading?
- When did you last learn a new technique to improve your reading?
- What could you do with the extra time if you doubled or tripled your reading speed?
How to Calculate Your Reading Rate
Choose a piece of generic literature - when acquiring speed reading expertise for the first time, your material must be largely unfamiliar. Choosing something related to your research may slow down the reading process (through sheer intrigue!) when the purpose is to acquire the basic skills to read at a high speed. After practicing these skills for a number of weeks it's then advisable to start focusing on speed reading material that you read for your research.
Count the total number of words in the first five lines and divide by 5.
This gives the estimate of the average number of words per line. Count the total number of lines that have been read and multiply by the average number per line. When the reading rate becomes faster it's best to calculate the average number of words per page and count the number of pages.
Reading Speed & Comprehension
For the first two-three weeks of acquiring speed reading skills, the faster the reading rate, the lower the comprehension. This is normal. As speed reading skills become more innate, comprehension will gradually return back to the normal rate. As the subconscious brain learns to read at speed, the reader's mind is focused on the physical act of reading. This causes a negative effect on comprehension. As speed reading skills are acquired with practice, the reader begins to pay less and less attention to the physical act of reading and focuses again on the material that it being read, in the same way that he/she did before acquiring speed reading skills.