Are you wondering how to level up your reading speed? Maybe you want to crush the SAT and the ACT, or maybe you just want more time to sleep or hang out with friends. Today, we’re going to be talking about five tips to help you speed read like a pro.
We have a super special guest with us today, Bara Sapir. She has been in the test prep world for over 30 years, and she’s a speed reading expert. She’s the founder of City Test Prep and MindFlow, which is a speed reading platform. And she’s been helping students with test prep for over 30 years. Today, she’s going to share with us, as a speed reading expert, five tips on how to speed read.
Know Your Reading Speed
One is that you want to know your reading speed. Because if you’re reading slower than 300 words per minute, you’re going too slow.
How do you figure that out? Well, we have a free speed reading assessment on our website, and we’ll put those links in the comments of the video. Most people read 150 to 250 words per minute. And that means your teacher, the crossing guard, and the people that you come into contact with—even politicians. In order to actually get through the test and have enough time to think critically, you need to move faster.
Skip Big Words, Big Numbers, and Repeated Words
The second thing is that you want to make sure that you totally ignore the big words and the big numbers.
So, what’s the problem with big words in numbers? Why does that hang people up?
Well, because they snag you, and they’re distractors. You can always go back to the essay to find out what the relationship is of that big word. But really, they’re there to seduce you into losing time. So, you don’t want to stay fixated on those words, and you know that you can always go back. And for the numbers, the idea is that if the number in the text is 2,347,556, and you read that aloud in your head, you could have just looked at it and said “big number” instead of the exact number.
You also want to skip words that are the subject of what you’re reading about. For example, if there’s an essay about Thomas Edison, you know the whole essay is about Thomas Edison. So anytime you see the “Th” or the “Thomas,” you can pop over to the next word.
Turn Off the Voice in Your Head
The third thing is that you want to turn off the voice in your head. Often, when we’re reading, we actually hear—or some people will hear—their own voice reading the thing that they’re reading. But if you do an experiment and read something out loud to see how fast you read, you’ll find that you actually read the same or slower when you hear your voice. So, you want to eliminate it because you actually don’t need to hear it. It’s like when you see a stop sign on the road. Do you hear “stop” all of a sudden in your head? Probably not. So, you want to get rid of the voice because it slows you down.
So, that’s a great concept. But how do people turn off that voice?
Well, the reason that it is haunting you is because you’re not reading fast enough and focusing. The faster you read, it actually neutralizes the voice in your head, and you’re able to move through it a lot more quickly. Your brain is able to do so much; it can actually think up to 4000 words per minute. So, you can bridge that gap by reading faster and getting rid of the voice. If you push yourself more, then in time, that voice will just dial down because it can’t keep up. And you’re still taking in the information and comprehending it.
Know Your Purpose
Number four is to know your purpose. You just want to go in knowing what you’re looking for and then have the time to answer the questions. When you’re taking a standardized test or an admissions test, you know that you’re going to have inference questions, assumption questions, main idea questions, and detailed questions that go back to the text. The more quickly you go through, the more you get a layout of the land and know exactly where to go.
So, basically, for the SAT, you want to know the lay of the land, like a passage map. You want to know the main ideas and where to go back to find them. That’s what we mean by knowing your purpose. It’s not just knowing that you’re taking a standardized test; it’s what you need to know after you read this passage so that you can get the questions right. That’s what the purpose is: what do you need out of this reading?
Well, what if you’re in a humanities lecture in college? What might be my purpose if you’re reading that humanities passage? Your purpose is going to be what the professor usually asks. What does the professor usually come forward with? How are you going to be able to present the main ideas, relationships, or things that are showing up in that essay or book to the professor? There are going to be things that come up, and you want to be able to articulate them.
Make it Tactile
The last thing is that you want to make it tactile. If you have an animal and a fly comes into the room, your animal is going to watch it.
Well, we’re the same way. So you want a moving finger, a moving marker, or an index card. You want something that is moving so that you can push your eyes to move as fast as possible, and then your mind is going to catch up with that. And then you’re going to be able to take in more and comprehend more.
If you want to learn more about speed reading or how to improve it, you can go to the website mindflowspeedreading.com.
We hope you learned something from this, and make sure to try these tips out the next time you’re reading a passage!