You get two kinds of reading: passive reading where the objective is just to get through the reading material and active reading where the reader absorbs ideas. Generally, people with good reading skills get there by doing a lot of reading and tend to read more fluently and with greater comprehension (active reading).

Intelligent people aren’t automatically fluent readers. However, we can safely assume that the more time you spend reading, the more intelligent you will become simply by obtaining more knowledge, an increased vocabulary and better spelling and overall language skills.

Learning how to read with greater skill will mean changing the approach we take to reading. Whatever the motivation for improving your reading fluency, whether it’s to better absorb information when studying, improve language and literacy or just simply to be a more proficient reader, there are plenty of ways to increase reading speed and improve overall reading skills.

Struggling readers or people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia tend to read slowly and often have issues focusing on one thing at a time. They have to put in a lot more effort to read the text that is in front of them. It's frustrating when these individuals find themselves re-reading a page in an effort to comprehend and memorise what is in front of them.

It All Starts With Early Reading Development

Literacy skills begin at infancy. Children need to get specialised help with reading during early learning and language development if there is some kind of learning disability. If we are able to pick up on learning disabilities or lack of literacy stimulation early on we can help children learn to read by using alternative methods such as flashcards, sounding out words to reinforce phonemic awareness and using multi sensory teaching aids and getting the whole family involved.

small child reading book
It's important to remember that literacy begins at infancy - unsplash

If we help children (even as young as preschoolers) overcome early reading challenges we can avoid unnecessary setbacks. This is how children develop balanced literacy and foster a love of reading.

Reading and writing go hand in hand therefore reading is a fantastic tool to use for developing writing skills as it will help children learn new words and build strong writing systems.

New Strategies to Consider Ahead of Your Next Read

If you struggle with daydreaming then it’s important to figure out what kind of setting helps you to focus best. Don’t attempt reading books in a place that you feel uncomfortable; you should be relaxed and at ease. For one person this can mean the quietest corner of your home and for the next it could be the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop.

Practising your reading skills in comfortable settings will help to make reading feel natural and the literacy skills you are pursuing such as an increase in reading speed and more efficient information retention may improve almost effortlessly.

It’s all about understanding what works for you. If you spend time familiarising yourself with how it feels to read in a comfortable setting it will help your reading fluency in the long run. By doing this you will learn how to discipline your mind and thoughts so that when you find yourself in an environment that isn’t ideal for reading it will have no effect on the speed and comprehension of your reading.

You can teach yourself to be mentally transported into the perfect reading zone.

In order to learn how to read with greater speed you should first make sure you understand why you feel the need to read more efficiently.  When you have a clear idea of the objectives you wish to achieve when reading a piece of literature it automatically helps you to fully grasp and remember the information before you.

Sometimes only skimming is required, for example, if you were doing research for a biology thesis. In this case you would be scanning pages on the lookout for specific terminology pertaining to the particular area you were writing about.

Some reading tasks require slow, analytical reading - unsplash

However, if you are analysing poetry you would be required to take note of every detail in order to pick up on subtle nuances and, this would mean reading at a slower pace. Sometimes it will even require you to sound out the written language of a poem by reading aloud. In this way you can pick up on the rhythm and rhyming remembering that poetic devices are intended for spoken language.

It may very well be that you are at the perfect reading level after all; it really just depends on the underlying purpose for your reading endeavours.

It can be extremely useful to learn to read at a high speed, but this isn’t necessary if you read primarily for recreational purposes. It’s absolutely fruitless to pressurise yourself to read faster just for the sake of it or because you feel inadequate among your peers.  Reading should be pleasurable and the real point of reading is to gain more knowledge. Comprehension is often compromised when people put too much focus on their reading speed which is a great pity.

How to Calculate the Speed of Your Reading

Some people just naturally find reading the easiest method of learning, but we must remember that for others, listening or following diagrams may be a more effective method of absorbing information. Still there are many ways to improve your reading skills even if it doesn’t always feel natural or easy.

To start off, get an idea of what the accepted reading speed is for the purpose of your reading. Someone who works as a researcher, which is all about reading, will be expected to read a lot faster than a person who reads for fun in their spare time. It could be that when you apply for certain jobs it will be required of you to provide your potential employer with information such as your reading speed. If so, you can use some of these points as a gauge.

An expert on eye-movement, Keith Raynor, advises that someone with a tertiary education should read between 200 – 400 words per minute (wpm) with the highest rate being 500 – 600 words per minute.

However, it’s believed that reading anything above 500 wpm will lead to a decrease in comprehension because of the mechanics of eye movement. In other words, it would be anatomically impossible to read effectively at this speed.

The purpose of your reading will influence the speed you should aim for. - unsplash

When you have found out what reading speed you should be achieving, you can spend a moment timing your reading one minute at a time. This should be done more than once in order to get an accurate average. Be sure to test yourself somewhere you feel comfortable and at a time of day that you know you perform well.

Remember that when you are performing your timing sessions that you must also assess whether you are reading with comprehension, it isn’t just about the number of words. Another important consideration is to read material relevant to the field in which you wish to be working in.

When you are confident that you’ve established a consistent and satisfactory wpm rate you can proceed to put this on your job application or CV. It can also be useful for freelancers who can add it to their profiles to attract prospective clients.

In the event that you aren’t able to achieve the reading speed and quality you are striving for then there are plenty of reading strategies and methods that can aid you in realising your full reading potential.

Reading Well Is an Ongoing Process

The key to learning how to speed read is simply practise.

Think of it the way an athlete would train in order to remain fit and improve their time. You will need to exercise your reading skills on a daily basis and make sure that you invest enough time each day if you really want to see significant results.

Allow yourself to make reading a part of your entire day, snatching a chance to hone your reading skills wherever the opportunity arises. In this way you will train your mind to read well instinctively and eventually your brain will be absorbing an enormous amount of knowledge and information on a regular basis.

During the early stages of learning to speed read the main focus should be on reading as much as possible as opposed to reading quality content. Actually, it’s better to start off with simpler texts in order to easily increase your speed, and as you become more skilled you can slowly advance to more complicated literature.

Researchers believe that reading speed can be increased by reflex training, such as exercises for the brain which will aid in sharpening your mind and strengthening the ability to focus when reading.

Reading Support to Improve Your Speed

Like most things in this day and age, there are plenty of apps that have been designed to help to improve reading speed.

Spreeder was created in an effort to save time by increasing your reading speed up to three times! It is based on techniques that have been developed by world-renowned speed reading champions and trainers.

Applications such as Spreeder and a myriad of others available on the App store or Google Play have proven to be very popular amongst the younger generation, especially students who are desperate to study more efficiently.

student reading and underlining text
Students strive to increase reading speed to lighten the load - unsplash

Take a Reading Course

To teach yourself to read more effectively and increasing your reading speed and reading comprehension on your own using only the resources the web has to offer is admirable but there’s no surer way to master a skill than by getting reading instruction from a professional.

There are so many wonderful courses and reading programmes available via the internet where you can access learning methods and lectures hosted by qualified reading teachers.

And if you are fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of local schools or community colleges and even universities that offer reading workshops then this comes highly recommended. You could also enlist the help of a private tutor who can create a personalised reading curriculum to fit your specific needs.

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Born from a family of creatives, Kyla has a passion for the arts and interior design.