Friday, March 20, 2009

Speed Reading

Whether you're a student with a ton to read or managing a text-heavy desk job, learning to effectively speed read can save you a lot of time. The key to speed reading is to retain as much information as possible even while you breeze through the words on a page or screen. Even slow readers can master this art by using one of the proven speed reading out there. First, though, you may want to check your skills with an online speed reading test.

Speed reading was actually first popularized after the U.S. Airforce demonstrated they could train people to read words more quickly without eliminating comprehension. In the 1940s, Harvard Business School jumped on board and tested the use of films to improve reading time. Then, in the 1950s, the first widely popular speed reading technique, the Wood Method, was introduced. The premise was simple, by using your finger as a pacer, you can help move your eyes more quickly across a page of text.

There are two components to speed reading: faster eye movements and quick information processing. For the first part, you can try the basic "finger pacer" technique, but you may get better results by training your eyes with special exercises. In speed reading lingo, the goal is to decrease "fixation time," or the time you spend looking at each section of text. You'll also want to enhance your ability to move from one line's end to the next line's beginning.

As for the comprehension component, the most important thing to do is establish a purpose before reading. This means knowing what information you want to pull from the text as you breeze through it. Also, you should try to focus on blocks of words. With practice, you'll see how easy it is to break the "one word at a time" habit most of us grow up with.

The best speed reading programs do cost money. You can either learn by reading books about the technique or by using specialty software. Many software options are available online for download. One top seller is RocketReader, which also offers a free trial. Other great options can be found on this review.

For some free tips, check out the following:

Think you're getting good at speed reading? Check out the World Championship Speed Reading Competition! The top readers there can reach up to 2,000 words per minute.

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