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Speed Reading

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I could also use something to make my reading speed a little faster, and I mean in English as a language which is foreign to me. There are some seminars in Croatia too, but they are all in croatian.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I am doing most of the reading on the computer, for various reasons.

I noticed my reading speed is higher on printed texts.

However, since most of the reading is on the screen, I would be interested in computer specific ways to improve speed.

I have made some observations:

- the display counts a lot

- it is easier to read on 4:3 display rather than 16:10 display

- Tahoma and Verdana fonts are much easier to read than Times New Roman for example

- I read web pages easier if I use pgup pgdn, rather than mouse wheel (with mouse wheel I miss the line I was at when scrolling)

- Word documents are faster to read with the Read option in Word 2003 (there are 2 screens on the display and since displays are wide, I don't need to move the eyes while reading - the point was made before on the topic)

- I read faster if spacing between lines is larger

Maybe there are other tips as well for improving reading speed on the computer?

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As Febod said, consciously focusing on each individual word is much slower and much less efficient than letting the subconscious handle the individual words and having it report "processed" results to the conscious mind. By processing, I mean combining words in already-automatized ways according to already-automatized rules of syntax, etc. Instead of letting the conscious mind, the software in the following analogy, focus on every low-level task of reading at its plodding pace, it delegates the low-level work to the hardware of the mind, the subconscious, and integrates the higher-level information. The trick is to automatize the reading of each individual word.

As far as an objectivist approach to reading, this entry is the most helpful.

I think a definition of reading is important here.

Reading is percieving visual-auditory symbols and linking them to concepts for our conciousness to mull over.

It seems, then, that a persons ability to read (and the speed at which they do it) is going to be determined by how well those concepts and definitions are understood and organized in their subconcious. A well organized subconcious would facilitate their ability to read at the concious level. So when you are completely focused, and I am not saying that this could even be possible given distractions and everything else that gets in the way of reading, your reading speed would be determined by the effectiveness of you concious and subconcious interacting together (psycho-epistemology).

Physically, the amount of data the eye can take in at a glance is definitely helpful but it would be meaningless if the concious and subconcious cannot connect the data to the concept. Limiting eye movements by whatever method is only a data intake issue, but the speed at which you transfer that data into knowledge is an epistemological issue.

My theory of speed reading, and that which has helped me, is to prepare yourself by bringing into focus and peripheral focus those concepts and ideas that you will be applying to the material (by putting the material into context) and then make sure that you have all your words, and therefore concepts, easily retrieved from the subconcious.

If I am correct, then Piekoff, whom Dr. Binswanger thinks has the most efficient psycho-epistemology, would have a much faster reading speed with a much higher level of comprehension than I would.

In addition, a mature knowledge of grammar and an automatized understanding of commonly used words would be extremely helpful. Grammar organizes the material in a manner which makes cognition effecient and quick.

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I generally read at a rate which is above average, but not what most people would classify as speed reading. Even though I could read faster if I wanted to. That is because, most of the time I read I do so in order to gain comprehensive understanding of the material. Therefore there is little benefit in going through it all at an acclerated rate at the risk of less comprehension. This is certaintly not something you want to do when learning a new concept / idea. Understanding the material is usually more important than reading it fast.

However, when revising concepts you are already familiar with reading faster can have merit. For instance if you are revising a basic concept, or searching for a smaller peice of information amongst many others it is can clearly be clearful to skim through parts of the rest of the text.

I would aim for processing the information reasonably rapidly while still correctly understanding it.

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I just did the test and I read at 497 wpm with 91% comprehension.

This is pretty good, I think. I took a speed reading course once, and did a bit of training on the task. So you can really increase your reading speed, I suppose. Advanced Speed reading isn't really reading faster, it's more like intelligent skimming as it was mentioned above. There is something called pareto's principle and it applies to this task just as well as to anything else: 80% of what you read won't give you useful information, so you might just as well skim it and only read the important part.

I tried this speed reading with a book my little sister gave me and I had it 'read' in about half an hour, cover to cover. I could then tell her the basic plot of the book. I could not give her a detailed analysis, but I understood quite a lot.

I was very impressed myself. I think this is the real key to Speed Reading: Skimming.

You try to find out what the author thought while reading to find out what to (really) read next. The skimmed text just flows through your brain mainly unprocessed.

But you can learn to make this fast processing better and therefore increase your reading speed since you don't have to read that much in detail.

I once heard a speed reading joke that explains were this can end if you overdo it:

I just speed read "War and peace". It's about Russia.

This subconcious mind stuff is not of much value as far as I am concerned. I read a book called photo reading where you are promised that you can read at 25000 wpm.

This is of course all done subconciously. So in the end you subcounciously read a book and you don't know shit about it's content. They say it's then easier to understand, but how can one know this is true? Well, it may help you understand better but you don't see the difference to not having photoread it before.

Nevertheless the book contained another interesting idea. That reading should start with the structure and go deeper into the content when necessary. So you only read the parts of the book that you really need. This is the best advice I would give after my long experience with speed reading techniques.

I once gave it to a friend who only had little time to finish a paper for college. He called be because I am a learning freak and a learning techniques freak, too. So he told me his problem and the answer was simple: Don't read it all. Just don't read entire parts of the text. Skim it first to understand what topics are covered. Then pick some topics you want to write about in your paper. Then just read these thoroughly and finish your paper on time. He did and received an A since he had enough time he could write it well and go over the text once more. This sounds cheesy, I know, but it's true.

So there is value to this speed reading stuff. I think you can double your normal reading speed and not go much further except on occasion but then you will trade understanding for speed and it's not fun to do it. For more I would recommend using pareto's law and forget the rest.

That's what I do and it has served me well.

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In 1968, I decided to enter graduate school, after an absence from school of several years. I worried about being able to keep up with the younger students because I was a slow reader. I decided on a speed reading course.

I took the Evelyn Wood course, which was being heavily advertised and demonstrated at the time. They guaranteed the student would triple (I think -- maybe it was double) his reading speed by course end, on a before-and-after reading test.

The course was very helpful. They taught me a "slash recall" method that served me well in note-taking as well as reading. They taught me how to approach a reading task and how to organize my reading. At least partly because of what I learned, I was able to go through graduate school with straight A's.

The only drawback was, I remained a slow reader. My speed increased a little, but nowhere near the guaranteed increase. Some of the other students noted huge increases, but I wonder how much of that was wishful thinking. I know that in one case, a student claimed a high rate of reading of a book with which I was familiar. His report on his reading bore no relation to the book, as nearly as I could tell.

To their credit, the Evelyn Wood company returned my money.

Many years later, I took the Photoreading course someone mentioned above. Again, I derived a good deal of benefit from the course, but did not increase my reading speed significantly.

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Many years later, I took the Photoreading course someone mentioned above.  Again, I derived a good deal of benefit from the course, but did not increase my reading speed significantly.

Hey, I always wanted to know someone who took a photoreading course. What do you do there? What do they teach?

What did you learn?

Did this photoreading work at least once? :)

Edited by Felix
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Hey, I always wanted to know someone who took a photoreading course. What do you do there? What do they teach?

What did you learn?

Did this photoreading work at least once? :D

My course happened eleven or twelve years ago -- too many experiences since then to allow for any worthwhile description. Due to some emergency, our instructor had to be replaced in mid-course, after she had established a good working relationship with the class members. The replacement never really :) "caught on."

As I recall, the course was divided into four sections, each with sub-sections. It addressed organizing, previewing, getting into a learning state, and various read-throughs of the material. They attempted to teach us to use a focal point beyond the page, in order, I guess, to be able to take in more than when focusing on individual words or phrases. Lots of practice in class, reading assigned passages, scored for speed and comprehension. There was more, but I don't remember much of it.

Again, the course was fun, and gave me some useful study techniques, but did not result in any lasting increase in my reading speed. Sorry I can't give you a better blow-by-blow.

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Again, the course was fun, and gave me some useful study techniques, but did not result in any lasting increase in my reading speed.

I got the same from just reading the book.

Which shows that it's a good idea to spend as much money as you can on interesting books, which is a policy I live by. Books are the biggest bargain on earth. You get a whole bunch of new information for little more than the printing cost. And:

Investment in your education yields the best dividends. (Ben Franklin) :D

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