Speed Reading

How fast can you read this article?

Reading is one of the first things we learn in school. We learn the letters. What they mean and how to write them. We learn to build words with the letters. With words we build sentences. With sentences paragraphs and so on.

As we learn to read and write words we break them down to the letters. Read → R E A D. We do the same for words in sentences. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE. We emphasize the smallest parts.

Teachers test our reading skills. We read texts out loud in front of the class.

This method to teach reading isn’t wrong. But does not go far enough. This method leads to bad reading habits, that slow us down.

By: NatalieMaynorCC BY 2.0

Bad reading habits

  • Vocalization

  • Regression

  • Narrow focus


We learn to read by reading out lout. So we read as fast as we can speak. But you don’t need a (inner) voice for reading. Your brain is capable of more. In order to read faster, you have to silence the voice.


Simplified, this is the fear of not understanding everything. You start reading a new line and think it is the wrong one. Your eyes move back to the line beginning. Line for line it sums up. Or you don’t understand one or two sentences immediately. So you go back and read it again, even slower. In order to read faster, you have to trust your brain and train your eyes.

Narrow focus

This is similar to vocalization. For reading out loud, you have to read word for word. So your eyes focus on one word. But it is possible to read more words at once. At the same time you can understand the meaning of more than one word. In order to read faster, you have to chunk words.


Because of these bad reading habits your brain starts to wander. It is bored. Then you understand less. You start reading again. Which leads to more boredom. You lose your motivation to read. I did.

Quick Wins

Reading faster and overcoming the bad reading habits is a matter of training. I will post an own article with some speed reading exercises. For now I give you some quick wins.


You can easily double your reading speed with applications. Most applications allow you to set the reading speed and chunk size. If you read anything on your computer, read it with a speed reading application. Spreeder.com is browser-based one for free. You can find also applications for your smart phone or as a browser extension.

By: J WyniaCC BY 2.0


Use a pen while you read off-line. Move the pen under the line you are reading. Your eyes follow the pencil. Start with one second. Take one second to move your pen from the line beginning to the end. Later you can switch to a ½ second or less. If you don’t understand something immediately, don’t read it again. Read the whole text. It is better to read the whole text again than to regress.

You can use both ways to either train reading or just to read. You have to train 3 times as fast as you want to read. While you train, don’t try to comprehend the text. The point of training is to get rid of the bad reading habits.

Call on action:

  • Take every day 5 minutes to train reading!

  • Train with different texts! Magazines, books or on-line articles.

  • Speed read everything you read!

Your man,

Gaius Wolf