Average reading speed is considered to be 125-150 words per minute in most students. This does not mean just reading quickly, it means reading and understanding from it. Of course reading is a skill highly underestimated by students, parents and teachers even though that is what students need to do a lot on daily basis - read, read & read.
Have a look at the distribution of reading speeds among students as studied by scientists in a research. What do you observe?
Now, this may be for a particular set of students in some other country and not very accurate for you. But there are two important observations that we can draw accurately for you -
Students can achieve speeds up to 350 words per minute by practising correct reading methods
Most of the students can read and understand at 125-150 words per minute
Mathematics of Reading
Let's just look at some math to understand how reading speed is important for you. Chapters in your books - science, english or history or geography are usually in the range of 5000 to 9000 words. Depending on your reading speed it might take you 1 hour or even more to read a chapter at a pace which you can understand too. What if your reading speed improves?
To put this in perspective, it means that if you improve your speed of reading, you can read double the number of chapters in a day or study half the amount of time and still achieve the same results and find time to exercise, play or relax. Doesn't that sound like the solution to 90% of the problems students face - lack of time to read, study, revise?
How to Improve Reading Speed?
To improve your reading speed, first you need to know what is your current reading speed. So here is a link to test your reading speed. Try the test and then decide how much improvement you need - 250 wpm? 350 wpm? Select a target and write it down in your diary somewhere.
Instructions for the test -
Read at a speed which you can understand because there are simple questions at the end of the test. Don't try to read fast without understanding to increase your score.
Select any "Theme" of your choice, Select Complexity "Level10", Select any story.
Click begin to get the text and start reading and then press "Done" when done.
Click Here to take the test when Ready.
Once you have taken the test, here are a few useful tips to improve your reading speed but there is no magic formula except practicing.
1. Read in chunks and not word by word. Do you read word by word? If yes, try to read in phrases. Example - Wrong: The--first--law--of--thermodynamics--states--that--energy--can--neither--be--created--nor--destroyed,--only--altered--in--form. Right: The first law of thermodynamics--states that--energy can neither be created--nor destroyed,--only altered in form.
2. Focus your eyes on Center of the Line & move your eyes: left to centre + centre to right Moving eyes and head from left to right, then back to left slows down your reading speed.
3. Improve Focus Use the exercises discussed in our blog "Science of Focus" a few weeks back
4. Improve Vocabulary Improving vocabulary improves your confidence and level of understanding you can achieve while reading.
5. Making Notes for Faster revision All of us depend on our notes for revision. The best way to make notes is neat and section-wise and point-wise. This helps you to revise the notes faster when you actually need to.
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Some reading advice from the author of "Four hour Work Week" Tim Ferriss in the bonus video below. For book lovers, you can read the famous book by Daniel Kahneman called "Thinking Fast & Slow".