Newspapers and Magazines

Usually people read newspapers in the morning to know the news and to be able to participate in Small Talk with their co-workers. We read magazines to learn something new and interesting.

Step 1: Look THROUGH the newspaper. This means very quickly – in one or two minutes – leaf through all the pages. Look at the pictures and headlines but don’t read anything.

Step 2: Come back to the article(s) that caught you attention. Look at the picture again, read the headlines, any subheadings, and what is written under the picture.

Step 3: Look at the text of the article and notice any numbers (years, dates, dollar amounts, etc.)

Step 4: Read only the capitalized words in the text – names of cities, companies, etc. This way you already know Who, What, Where and When.

Step 5: Read the first paragraph or two to get some details.

Step 6: Decide if the article is worth reading or you already have enough information and it’s time to move to the next one.


Novels and Stories

Usually it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you read these. However, if you want to read books faster, this is how you can do it.

1. Do not read out loud –  do not move your lips or your mouth at all. Try chewing a piece of gum. Or press your the tip of your tongue against the top teeth and keep it there while reading. Let your brain do the reading, not your body.

2. Move your finger under the lines as you are reading. Only move your finger forward – do not go back and read the same line twice.

3. Do NOT use a dictionary. If a book has too many new words, only use your dictionary while reading the first 3-5 pages. After that, put your dictionary away. If a book belongs to you, you could underline the words you don’t understand, but you must keep on reading. You will understand the story even if you don’t know the meaning of some words. It’s important that your mind learns to be comfortable with understanding the message without understanding all the words.


Self-help and other Non-fiction Books

Step 1: Read the front and back cover.

Step 2: Read the Table of Contents and note the chapters that sound particularly interesting.

Step 3: Skip the introduction. These type of books contain a lot of ‘water’. The main reason you’d be reading a book like this is to get the advice it contains. So your task is to find where in the book it is hidden.

Step 4: Read the first and the last sentence of the paragraph to know what it is about. Decide if the paragraph is important to read or not based on the message it contains. If not, skip it.

Step 5: Look for any lists, bullets, diagrams, words in bold, subheadings, etc. – these contain important information.

Step 6: These books are not stories – you can often read the chapters in any order.


Textbooks (School books and test texts)

All the techniques described above are useful when reading texts for school.


Scan the text quickly – look for numbers and names. Answer the questions: Who? What? Where? When?


Read the text quickly without using your dictionary. Your task is to understand the general idea of the text.

Skip your grammar

When you see the grammar words like ‘the’, ‘was’, ‘of’, ‘it’, ‘on’, etc., do NOT read them – jump to the next word. In English, function words (adjectives, nouns, verbs) carry the message, while grammar words don’t. Try reading long words only and skip the short ones. For example: ‘We decided to go to the swimming pool.’ If you only read ‘decided’ and ‘swimming’, the message is already clear.

Read the questions first!

If you are doing any kind of test, read the questions first. Only then read the text. It’s extremely important that you know what you are looking for – your reading will have a purpose and you will also save time using this technique.


Additional Speed Reading Techniques

Normally people can read 200 to 400 words per minute. But some people are able to read thousands of words per minute.

  1. Understand the importance of prior knowledge on the subject. If a subject is new or unfamiliar, you will read slower. (If you are an engineer reading a text on engineering, you will read it faster than a doctor who reads the same text.)
  2. Always start with ‘What do I want to learn from this book/text?’
  3. Leaf/flip through the book first, read a couple of words on a page and turn the page over. This way you are familiarizing yourself with the content and preparing your mind.
  4. Pre-read – look at a text as a whole. How long is it? Skim and scan first, only then read.
  5. Silence your inner voice. If you’re hearing your own voice inside your head while reading, you will be reading slowly. But if you see words as ‘pictures’ (mental images), you will read faster. People’s speaking speed is much slower than their minds’ ability to process information.
  6. Move your eyes very fast (you will need your finger or a pen) to push your speed. Go really fast, then slow down a bit.
  7. Sit up straight so that your chest is not compressed and your lungs can fill with air easily – your brain needs oxygen.
  8. Smile. This will not help you with your speed but will help you with comprehension and retention of the information.