How To Read Faster: 11 Effective Strategies

Reading is an important part of our daily lives. However, many people struggle to read fast while still comprehending the text they’re reading and retaining information.

There are many fantastic tips and techniques to read faster, regardless of whether you want to read faster for studying, work, or personal reasons.

How To Read Faster

1. Preview Your Text Beforehand 

Being somewhat familiar with a text before you read it will help you read it faster – which is why previewing your text beforehand is one of the best tips to improve your reading speed.

Previewing a text allows you to better understand and prepare yourself to read it. However, you might be unsure of how to preview a text. 

When previewing a text, you should scan it from beginning to end. While doing this, you should read the headings, subheadings, and any text in a large font to familiarize yourself with the contents of the text.

By implementing this strategy, you’ll better understand a text and can optimize how you use your time.

Depending on what you’re about to read, you may want a more in-depth preview beforehand. 

You can also skim-read the text’s introductory and concluding sections to better understand. You can also keep an eye out for keywords that pertain to the information you’re looking for in a specific text.

2. Avoid Distractions While Reading

You need to focus on the text to increase your reading speed while retaining the information you’re reading. 

However, if you’re constantly distracted while reading, you won’t be able to read quickly, let alone retain much information. For this reason, it’s important to avoid distractions while reading.

Let’s discuss a few methods of preventing distractions while reading.

Put Your Phone Away 

Avoiding distractions is key to reading faster, so we highly recommend putting your phone away before you start. 

After all, there’s always something to check on our smartphones. To fully engage with a text, you should put your phone on silent and place it out of physical reach.  

Avoid Multitasking 

Whenever you’re multitasking, you cannot give your undivided attention to either task. Due to this, we recommend that you avoid multitasking while reading.

Ultimately, this will allow you to focus on the text you’re busy reading. Once you’ve finished your reading, you can move on to your next task.

Choose Your Preferred Reading Format

Man Reading In A Library On A Tablet

Every reader has a personal preference when it comes to reading formats. While many people have adapted to reading on a screen, countless people still prefer reading old-school print.

Studies have shown that there are more benefits to reading printed material. Not only do your eyes work harder reading via screens, but digital reading is also linked to shallower processing.

Read In A Comfortable Position

When you’re reading in an uncomfortable position, you won’t be able to concentrate properly. Ultimately, that’s why you should ensure that you read in a comfortable position.

Luckily, there are many great reading positions for you to try out.

Listen To Background Music 

While it may seem counterproductive, studies have proven that listening to background music while you read can improve your reading comprehension.

Music also helps keep your energy levels up while reading. By boosting your energy levels with some background music, you can prevent losing your momentum while reading.

3. Set Your Reading Goal

Regardless of what you’re about to start reading, you should set a reading goal before starting.

Ultimately, setting a goal will allow you to remain focused and stay on track with your reading, which is key to reading faster.

By setting a reading goal before you start reading, you can strategically approach the text you’re reading and read with purpose.

Reading with purpose has been proven to improve the retention of new information, but many people are unsure of how to approach reading with this mindset.

To set your goal, you should start why considering why you’re reading a certain text. If you previously started reading a text or book, you can also mentally recap what you have already read. 

4. Focus On Phrases Instead Of Words

Many people read word for word, which not only slows down their reading speed but negatively impacts their reading comprehension.

However, if you start focusing on phrases instead of words, you can effectively read faster and improve your understanding. However, many people are unsure of how to read word groups.

The process of reading multiple words at once is known as word-chunking. Even though our brains are trained to read words one at a time, it’s possible to take in several words at once.

By training your brain to identify short meaningful phrases while reading, you can prevent reading word-by-word.

Ultimately, you’ll need to train your brain to recognize groupings of words. To practice this skill, you can scan a page to identify three-word phrases.

Eventually, you’ll be able to instantly recognize these phrases. You should pay close attention to nouns and verbs that convey ideas and concepts.

To properly identify phrases, you’ll need to use your peripheral vision to recognize more words with each glance.

Over time, you’ll start ignoring filler words that do not convey meaning. Once you’ve mastered the art of word-chunking, you’ll be on your way to becoming a speed reader.

5. Stop Rereading

If you’re serious about improving your reading speed, you must stop rereading sentences you’ve already read.

This phenomenon is also known as back-skipping and regression. Of course, rereading refers to the process of going back to reread a sentence or section you’ve already read, which breaks our momentum and negatively impacts our reading speed.

When reading, most people spend a third of their time regressing and rereading sections. These estimates show how badly rereading can slow down our reading pace.

This habit can also prevent you from comprehending what you’re reading since you lose track of the point being made before you backtrack.

While rereading is sometimes necessary, it usually happens at an unconscious level, which means we do it without thinking about it.

To stop this habit of regressing while reading, we need to avoid the urge to reread sections and keep our forward momentum going.

When using some of the other techniques on this list, you’ll be able to kick your habit of back-skipping while reading.

6. Skip Irrelevant Sections

When reading non-fiction texts, skipping irrelevant sections can help you improve your reading speed. For instance, you may come across a paragraph detailing a topic you already know.

Instead of reading the entire paragraph, you can opt to read only the first and last sentences of a section or paragraph.

It can be difficult to determine which sections to skip when first implementing this technique.

As you familiarize yourself with this technique, you’ll be able to determine which sections are safe to skip while reading.

If a section doesn’t cover any new material or is about a topic you don’t need to know, it will be safe to skip it and move to the next one.

When using this technique, it’s crucial that you’re also familiar with the previewing technique we discussed earlier. 

Ultimately, these techniques go hand-in-hand with each other. By previewing your text before you start reading, you’ll improve your ability to gauge which sections can be skipped while reading different texts.

Eventually, you might find you can skip entire chapters.

7. Read In Timed Bursts 

When reading for hours on end, it can be difficult to remain focused and engaged with the text.

You can prevent mental exhaustion and remain engaged by reading in shorter, timed bursts.

During the breaks between reading sessions, our brains can process and retain the information we have just read.

If you want to try reading in short bursts, you can use the Pomodoro technique.

To use this technique, you first need to decide what you want to read and how long you will read for. You can then break your work into Pomodoro sessions.

To do this, you should set a timer for 25 minutes and start reading. You should limit distractions during these 25-minute sessions to boost your productivity.

When your 25-minute reading session ends, you can take a short five or ten-minute break. During your short breaks, you can do something that relaxes you.

Once you’ve completed four Pomodoro sessions, you can take a longer thirty-minute break to reward yourself.

You can then repeat the process as needed to get through your reading.

8. Take Notes

If you want to read faster while retaining information, you should get into the habit of taking notes while you’re reading. This is particularly important when reading non-fiction texts or books.

By actively taking notes, you’ll remain focused and engaged with the text, which allows you to think critically about what you’re reading. 

Even if two people read the same text and take notes, their notes will not be identical. You should avoid taking notes directly from the reading. Instead, your text should be written in your own words.

Doing this will improve your ability to organize ideas and information while reading different texts.

While this technique may seem counterintuitive, it’s been proven to improve reading speed. You’ll also be able to read for longer because you remain engaged with the text.

If you don’t want to take notes while reading, you can write a summary of what you’ve read afterward.

Writing short summaries is a great option for those who prefer reading in short bursts.

9. Time Your Reading

While there are many ways to effectively increase your reading speed, it can be difficult to ascertain whether your reading speed is actually improving.

Ultimately, that’s the reason we recommend using a timer to determine whether you’re getting faster. By recording your reading pace, you can track how it improves over time. 

If you’re ready to start reading faster, start by recording your current pace. To do this, you can use a stopwatch for a certain amount of time.

During this time, track how many words or pages you could read.

Websites like WordsToPages can help you calculate how many words you’ve read. Your recorded speed is your baseline recording, which can be used to track your progress.

As you incorporate different tips and techniques, you should keep timing yourself when reading.

You can record your progress in a diary or in a digital document. Not only will you begin to read faster, but you’ll be able to quantify your improvement, which will keep motivating you.

10. Expand Your Vocabulary

Words we are unfamiliar with are one of the most common obstacles we encounter while reading, which can greatly slow down the pace we’re reading at.

Some people may pause to look up the word, while others may try to figure it out based on the context. Some people may even just skip the word and keep reading.

Unfamiliar words will delay your reading speed regardless of which route you choose. However, by improving your vocabulary, this will become a less frequent occurrence.

The more terms that you add to your vocabulary, the faster you’ll be able to read.

There are a couple of different ways you can add new words to your repertoire. 

Look Up New Words

An Open Dictionary

When you encounter a new word in your daily life, you should pause for a second to look up the word’s definition.

Ultimately, this is one of the best ways to incorporate new words into your vocabulary.

While you can look the word up online or in a dictionary, learning a new word can be as simple as asking your smartphone’s voice assistant to define the term! 

Play Word Games

There are many word games that are fun to play and help you expand your vocabulary. You could play Scrabble with friends or on the official app to learn new words.

However, there are also many web-based word games that you can play, including Wordle and Waffle.

Who said you couldn’t have fun while learning new words?

Practice Using New Words

It can be easy to forget the meaning of a new word, even if you previously looked up the meaning.

However, by using newly learned words in conversation, we can better retain new words we have learned.

If you come across an interesting term while reading, try using it in conversation after looking up the meaning.

11. Read More To Read Faster

While there are numerous tips and techniques to read faster, reading more remains one of the best ways to increase your reading speed.

By reading more often, you will effectively train your brain to read faster and develop your reading techniques. Reading more will also improve your retention of information.

Naturally, it doesn’t help reading fast when you’re unable to comprehend what you’re reading and find the information you’re looking for. 

That’s where the other techniques we’ve discussed come in; by developing these techniques, you’ll be able to improve your comprehension rate as you improve your reading speed. 

David Woutersen

Article by

David Woutersen

David is the founder of Outofthe925.com and has been in the social media industry since 2017. Since then, his mission has been to help others take control of their online presence. For some, this has been earning an income online; for others, it's teaching how to use social networks more effectively. And each year, he continues to help millions with strategy, troubleshooting, and inspiration.

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