(Photo: Dustin Diaz)
How much more could you get done if you completed all of your required reading in 1/3 or 1/5 the time?
Increasing reading speed is a process of controlling fine motor movement—period.
This post is a condensed overview of principles I taught to undergraduates at Princeton University in 1998 at a seminar called the “PX Project.” The below was written several years ago, so it’s worded like Ivy Leaguer pompous-ass prose, but the results are substantial. In fact, while on an airplane in China two weeks ago, I helped Glenn McElhose increase his reading speed 34% in less than 5 minutes.
I have never seen the method fail. Here’s how it works…
The PX Project
The PX Project, a single 3-hour cognitive experiment, produced an average increase in reading speed of 386%.
It was tested with speakers of five languages, and even dyslexics were conditioned to read technical material at more than 3,000 words-per-minute (wpm), or 10 pages per minute. One page every 6 seconds. By comparison, the average reading speed in the US is 200-300 wpm (1/2 to 1 page per minute), with the top 1% of the population reading over 400 wpm…
If you understand several basic principles of the human visual system, you can eliminate inefficiencies and increase speed while improving retention.
To perform the exercises in this post and see the results, you will need: a book of 200+ pages that can lie flat when open, a pen, and a timer (a stop watch with alarm or kitchen timer is ideal). You should complete the 20 minutes of exercises in one session.
First, several definitions and distinctions specific to the reading process:
A) Synopsis: You must minimize the number and duration of fixations per line to increase speed.
You do not read in a straight line, but rather in a sequence of saccadic movements (jumps). Each of these saccades ends with a fixation, or a temporary snapshot of the text within you focus area (approx. the size of a quarter at 8 inches from reading surface). Each fixation will last ¼ to ½ seconds in the untrained subject. To demonstrate this, close one eye, place a fingertip on top of that eyelid, and then slowly scan a straight horizontal line with your other eye-you will feel distinct and separate movements and periods of fixation.
B) Synopsis: You must eliminate regression and back-skipping to increase speed.
The untrained subject engages in regression (conscious rereading) and back-skipping (subconscious rereading via misplacement of fixation) for up to 30% of total reading time.
C) Synopsis: You must use conditioning drills to increase horizontal peripheral vision span and the number of words registered per fixation.
Untrained subjects use central focus but not horizontal peripheral vision span during reading, foregoing up to 50% of their words per fixation (the number of words that can be perceived and “read” in each fixation).
You will 1) learn technique, 2) learn to apply techniques with speed through conditioning, then 3) learn to test yourself with reading for comprehension.
These are separate, and your adaptation to the sequencing depends on keeping them separate. Do not worry about comprehension if you are learning to apply a motor skill with speed, for example. The adaptive sequence is: technique ‘ technique with speed ‘ comprehensive reading testing.
As a general rule, you will need to practice technique at 3x the speed of your ultimate target reading speed. Thus, if you currently read at 300 wpm and your target reading speed is 900 wpm, you will need to practice technique at 2,700 words-per-minute, or 6 pages per minute (10 seconds per page).
We will cover two main techniques in this introduction:
1) Trackers and Pacers (to address A and B above)
2) Perceptual Expansion (to address C)
First – Determining Baseline
To determine your current reading speed, take your practice book (which should lay flat when open on a table) and count the number of words in 5 lines. Divide this number of words by 5, and you have your average number of words-per-line.
Example: 62 words/5 lines = 12.4, which you round to 12 words-per-line
Next, count the number of text lines on 5 pages and divide by 5 to arrive at the average number of lines per page. Multiply this by average number of words-per-line, and you have your average number of words per page.
Example: 154 lines/5 pages = 30.8, rounded to 31 lines per page x 12 words-per-line = 372 words per page
Mark your first line and read with a timer for 1 minute exactly-do not read faster than normal, and read for comprehension. After exactly one minute, multiply the number of lines by your average words-per-line to determine your current words-per-minute (wpm) rate.
Second – Trackers and Pacers
Regression, back-skipping, and the duration of fixations can be minimized by using a tracker and pacer. To illustrate the importance of a tracker-did you use a pen or finger when counting the number of words or lines in above baseline calculations? If you did, it was for the purpose of tracking-using a visual aid to guide fixation efficiency and accuracy. Nowhere is this more relevant than in conditioning reading speed by eliminating such inefficiencies.
For the purposes of this article, we will use a pen. Holding the pen in your dominant hand, you will underline each line (with the cap on), keeping your eye fixation above the tip of the pen. This will not only serve as a tracker, but it will also serve as a pacer for maintaining consistent speed and decreasing fixation duration. You may hold it as you would when writing, but it is recommended that you hold it under your hand, flat against the page.
1) Technique (2 minutes):
Practice using the pen as a tracker and pacer. Underline each line, focusing above the tip of the pen. DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION. Keep each line to a maximum of 1 second, and increase the speed with each subsequent page. Read, but under no circumstances should you take longer than 1 second per line.
2) Speed (3 minutes):
Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”). Some will comprehend nothing, which is to be expected. Maintain speed and technique-you are conditioning your perceptual reflexes, and this is a speed exercise designed to facilitate adaptations in your system. Do not decrease speed. ½ second per line for 3 minutes; focus above the pen and concentrate on technique with speed. Focus on the exercise, and do not daydream.
Third – Perceptual Expansion
If you focus on the center of your computer screen (focus relating to the focal area of the fovea in within the eye), you can still perceive and register the sides of the screen. Training peripheral vision to register more effectively can increase reading speed over 300%. Untrained readers use up to ½ of their peripheral field on margins by moving from 1st word to last, spending 25-50% of their time “reading” margins with no content.
To illustrate, let us take the hypothetical one line: “Once upon a time, students enjoyed reading four hours a day.” If you were able to begin your reading at “time” and finish the line at “four”, you would eliminate 6 of 11 words, more than doubling your reading speed. This concept is easy to implement and combine with the tracking and pacing you’ve already practiced.
1) Technique (1 minute):
Use the pen to track and pace at a consistent speed of one line per second. Begin 1 word in from the first word of each line, and end 1 word in from the last word.
DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH COMPREHENSION. Keep each line to a maximum of 1 second, and increase the speed with each subsequent page. Read, but under no circumstances should you take longer than 1 second per line.
2) Technique (1 minute):
Use the pen to track and pace at a consistent speed of one line per second. Begin 2 words in from the first word of each line, and end 2 words in from the last word.
3) Speed (3 minutes):
Begin at least 3 words in from the first word of each line, and end 3 words in from the last word. Repeat the technique, keeping each line to no more than ½ second (2 lines for a single “one-one-thousand”).
Some will comprehend nothing, which is to be expected. Maintain speed and technique-you are conditioning your perceptual reflexes, and this is a speed exercise designed to facilitate adaptations in your system. Do not decrease speed. ½ second per line for 3 minutes; focus above the pen and concentrate on technique with speed. Focus on the exercise, and do not daydream.
Fourth – Calculate New WPM Reading Speed
Mark your first line and read with a timer for 1 minute exactly- Read at your fastest comprehension rate. Multiply the number of lines by your previously determined average words-per-line to get determine your new words-per-minute (wpm) rate.
Congratulations on completing your cursory overview of some of the techniques that can be used to accelerate human cognition (defined as the processing and use of information).
Final recommendations: If used for study, it is recommended that you not read 3 assignments in the time it would take you to read one, but rather, read the same assignment 3 times for exposure and recall improvement, depending on relevancy to testing.
Happy trails, page blazers.
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874 Replies to “Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes”
These guys plagiarize your post?
It would certainly seem that way. Based on the “Adaptagenix” reference, it seems he pulled it off of my first blog (before this one and the new edits). It’d be nice to at least get a link back, but life is too short to chase everyone.
I just try and take a few deep breaths, laugh, and move on…
Thanks for the heads up, though. It’s important to be aware of who does this.
While reading all of a piece faster is a great goal, a significantly faster *effective* rate is possible by selective reading and non-method scanning. I.e., question what you want to get out of it, and apply strategy. FYI on-topic link: I’m told my article “How to read a lot of books in a short time” has helped a lot – http://matthewcornell.org/blog/2006/02/how-to-read-lot-of-books-in-short-time.html
While reading all of a piece faster is a great goal, a significantly faster *effective* rate is possible by selective reading and non-method scanning. I.e., question what you want to get out of it, and apply strategy. FYI on-topic link: I’m told my article “How to read a lot of books in a short time” has helped a lot [link in name]
well i have been preparing for many exams to get into a good B school here in India
this technique to read faster has really helped to read and answer the reading comprehension section of CAT really quickly i have almost double my reading speed
Antes de nada, gracias por que desde que lei tu libro mi vida cambio, y no es solo un modo de hablar.
y eso que aun no he encontrado el producto adecuado que vender.
sobre este metodo me parece asombroso y me gustaria poder emplearlo y adaptarlo al español para ofrecerlo como un producto en internet, si me daria su permiso.
gracias por dar lo mejor de si
So this is my first comment…way to take off the training wheels :). I’ve had this sitting in my Google Reader until I had about a half hour to practice and try it out–I wish I’d made time sooner. My reading speed increased from 310 wpm to 650 wpm with adequate comprehension in about 40 min (I went through each step a couple times and didn’t move on until I’d hit the target practice speed). Another great post, Tim!
Very interesting concept that works in many cases. I use this regularly for reading through all emails and news, easy reading etc.
As I understand the main theory behind this concept is increasing ones’ recognition ability. The reading speed would be limited only with our own personal ability of recognition the semantics at the given density of information flow. Reading insainly complex mathematical equation has extremly high density in comparison to yesterdays’ yellow pages.
But I must ask you Tim, where is the limit?
If I’m reading my favorite magazine, I deliberately slow down, take my time, enjoy the lines… For all other material I use your suggestions from chapter E in your book – elliminate 🙂 The book is excellent!
I really enjoyed your blog about speed reading training and I have this to share.
During the Vietnam war when new draftees were required to be trained and ready almost the next day, the US Govt began a test program with elementary schools. My school in rural Virginia happened to be selected and my class was the test subject. I was 9 at the time. We sat in a darkened room with the page projected on the screen in front of us. At first the light showed a paragrapgh at a time and went slowly. Then it went down to a line at a time, then a few words, then one word. Once we had mainteained that speed it began to pick up speed. Each session lasted about 30 minutes and after each session we were tested on comprehension, even to the point of being asked if specific words were used and how. As you can imagine the class quickly split into several levels of speeds. Suprising though, the comprehension was almost equat to the base line comprehension level (and I know this because the teacher was a friend of the family and they often talked about it later).
This process went on for the whole semester and then disappeared from the classrom never to be seen again.
While as an adult I’m not comfortable with how we were used as guinea pigs, I am thankful for the training. The speed I attained allowed me to do many things I would not have been able to do without it. Standardized tests were much easier, homework was less time consuming, etc. The down side is that after years of speed reading I’ve had to really work to slow down to read for pleasure- not that I enjoy the book more if read slowly- I just hate having to replenish the reading material supply at such a fast rate! Also- sometimes my friends kid me that I can’t have finised the whole book that fast- I just smile and move on to the next book:)
So I say to Yale and other nay sayers- this program works but it will not change your basic comprehension levels. If you didn’t understand the words before you read them- reading them faster won’t change that. It will, however, allow you to intake more information that may, when digested, allow you to increase your understanding. And it will certainly give you the extra time for looking up new words and concepts.
Thanks for including the atrticle. I’ve printed it out for friends so now I can get the books I loan them back faster!
Thanks for the great story!
I raised my reading speed from 426 WPM to 934 WPM in just about a half hour. Thanks for the help, Tim! I’ve tried things like photoreading and other programs that are days long, and this was the fastest and most effective improvement.
With much respect,
Tim-thanks for the tip……..very helpful.
I read the other day that when the train was being introduced naysayers warned that speeds of 40 miles per hour would cause the heart to explode.
Progress will always have its critics!!!!!!!
When will we see another Tim Ferris book?
There is a new edition of 4HWW coming out very shortly. More news soon 😉
I couldn’t avoid remembering this quote:
“I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” —Woody Allen
I guess we should not overdo this technique beyond the point where we are still enjoying the reading. =)
This is trully brilliant! Real effective methods that can be put to use immediately.Can’t wait to try it.
I just found your blog. Wow there is a lot of cool stuff here. This post on speed reading is very interesting and I think I am going to put it to the test. I would love to be able to read faster. I have 3 kids and not a lot of time to read books, but if I could read faster I could fit it in. It would be awesome!
“you will need to practice technique at 3x the speed of your ultimate target reading speed. Thus, if you currently read at 300 wpm and your target reading speed is 900 wpm, you will need to practice technique at 1,800 words-per-minute”
That should be 2x or 2,700 wpm, no?
Very useful information. Thanks. I’ve always been frustrated with my reading speed. To learn to read by more than a word at a time, I created a program which I’ve now turned into http://www.ReadSpeeder.com. It’s 100% free and can be used with any text. It will automatically find the ‘natural’ phrases in text and present these sequentially. The result is you can quickly grasp the meaning of each phrase without having to think of the individual words. Using it feels like the thoughts are lifted from the text directly to your mind. That’s how it seems to me, but please give it a try and see what you think. It even comes with a bookmarklet so you can use ReadSpeeder directly on ANY web page! Plus you can save any text to be read later, or to be shared with other users, or to be read on a ReadSpeeder iPhone app. I created ReadSpeeder because I really enjoy reading but I’ve always been so frustrated with my reading speed. This really has helped me to read faster and understand what I read better, and to end my habit of saying the words in my head, and going back and re-reading a passage multiple times. Anyway, if you try it, I’d love to hear what you think.
I agree with Durbin,
Isn’t the technique practice speed 2,700wpm for a target rate of 900, not 1,800??
I tried the exercise, and while my reading did improve, it was more like 30%, rather than 300%. I wonder if I’ve done something wrong, or if this requires a lot of practice to get to 300%. I know some of the posts say they went up 300% in one session, but that simply is very very far from my experience.
Wow, Tim! I had looked into lengthy speed reading courses in the past and always thought there was too much of a time investment for something that wasn’t proven. Over the past 20 minutes, I went from 252 WPM to 637 WPM with the same comprehension.
I wish I had read your book and this blog back when I was in grad school!
i am wondering how well that works for books/research papers which are more sophisticated (ie. math, physics, computer science).
Esp. how well can you remember it? With 3000 words per minute you can probably read the whole linear algebra theory in a week 😉
I just started working in a book shop, and I need to read a lot of books so I can recommend them.
These techniques would help me expand my repertoire..
(started with 200 wpm
ended up with 425 wpm)
WOW! I always read slow and there’s a book for school I need to read by tomorrow. Knowing it would take me several hours to finish it at my normal speed, I Googled something along the lines of “how to read faster” and this game up. I started this exercise at 182 wpm, and within 10-15 minutes doubled my speed to 365 wpm! The best thing is, I do not feel like I have uncovered my full speed potential yet. I think that with some more practice I will be able to read at 400-500 wpm.
Thank you Tim!!
I’ve read about this stuff before, though never done these exact technique practices. I think that it has helped me to skim better in the past. I can’t say that the periphery thing has ever helped me much with comprehension speed, and especially cutting off the edges. That just gets me leaving words out and not understanding a thing. Why the heck would you begin reading three words in? You just missed three words. Maybe there’s something I’m not understanding, but you need to explain it better.
I always get suspicious when the majority of commenters are full of praise, but for something they’re only about to try – later, tomorrow, but certainly not yesterday or last month. Nonetheless, I will keep working on this. It hasn’t improved my reading speech yet.
I just released an iPhone speed reading app called QuickReader. It is currently being featured by Apple on the app store “What’s Hot” list.
It is a speed reading eBook reader that works very well with the protocol described in this article. Essentially you follow a guide through the full-page text, similar to using a finger or pen, but in this case the guide is a highlight, a long/short underline, or an outline. It allows you to adjust the fixations to one or more fixations per line (called stops in the app) or 1 or more lines per fixation and you have fine control over the guide speed from 100 to 2000 WPM. The guide encourages proper tracking, eliminating regressions and back-skipping. And at anytime you can take a speed test to determine your current reading rate.
The app comes with 20+ full-length eBooks. You can see a video demo of how it works at quickreader.net/videos.
Looking forward to the new edition of 4HWW.
All the best,
Hi, I have tried this technique and it really works, though I have problems doing it a usual habit: I mean I do it but days later I come back to my usual reading speed. Please recommend a program to make this part of my normal reading speed.
p.s. Tim I love your book it demolished soooo many preconceptions about life
This would be excellent if I could stop sub vocalizing. I cannot for the life of me quiet that internal voice. Any tips?
I have heard one speed reader explain that he sees text as pictures, ie. when he looks at a page he does not audibly read the words in his mind he just sees the word, etc. What do you think about this? Does your method of speed reading involve audibly saying the word in your head?
Read by whole phrases. Try http://www.readspeeder.com to learn how.
It works, alright! However, my speed increased by 188%, not 300% like the title describes… but still a very effective way to read in my opinion.
I feel I understand the “big picture” bit it’s kind of hard to get the details.
Great read, reminded me alot of when i did Brian Tracy’s Acclerated Learning Techniques Course. The idea’s for Speed Reading are so helpful.
Nice work 🙂
I used an online speed reading program from Fastreaders (www.fastreaders.com) several months ago and it helped me read faster. Most of these techniques work but you just have to retrain yourself to read differently.
Thanks a lot. This works. I improved my reading speed from 396 to 468 words per minute after the 1st test. I am going to train again so as my brain gets used with this new technical.
ps: I wonder why we don’t learn it at school.
old post but decided to give it a shot…
65% increase for me.
First try and increased from 305 to 504 although I’m sure my comprehension is way down. I’ll def. keep trying and practicing this however.
Just did the exercise again after doing it yesterday.
After re-testing I found I was not all the way back to to 305 but faster at around 370.
I did the exercises again and finished at 540 – 35 more wpm than yesterday.
I think I’ll keep practicing. If I can read at even 450wpm and comprehend I’ll be flying
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
i was so slow at reading, 145 wpm or something, and now up in the 400s,
this is great! im working on getting to around 500 and above now
Started test today with a crazy speed of 468 right out of the gate.
Was able to redo the exercises and finish at 612 WPM with pretty good comprehension.
I’m going to keep practicing daily and updating my progress here.
This is a really great article and I can’t wait to start trying it. The problem is I really like listening to audio books but people have told me that it slows my reading speed down. yet on the other hand i heard reading a long with with an audiobook helps speed and comprehension. What should I do? I love how easy it is to listen to an audiobook when i am on the go but i don’t want to hinder me on reading faster and comprehending better.
Hi Tim, after procrastinating it for way too long, I’ve finally given this a try. I live in Flanders (Belgium) and used the Dutch translation of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline (pages 146-150). It took me about 60 minutes (I’ve counted after each exercise) and it made me read 88% faster. A great accomplishment although it’s still far from 300% 🙂
The difficult part for me was knowing how long one second or half a second takes (reading and counting in your head at the same time is a bitch). I guess the mistake I made is that at first I did not try out how long 1 second lasts (great chronometers online though). I suggest you get comfortable with that before you begin. Question: the book I chose isn’t the easiest one around. Although it’s these kind of books I want to use speed reading on. Do you suggest starting out with something easy or with the material you really want to read?
Thanks for the great book and blog! I really appreciate what you are doing!
tested today again after a few days of not testing but lots of reading.
Started out reading at 416WPM
Did the exercises and finished at 624 WPM.
So far not finding much consistency in this but seem to be able to keep bumping things up a bit even though I started slower than last week after 3 days of practicing.
Hmm I tried this but only got 13% increase. I think I’m not using my peripheral vision. Any ideas on what’s could be going wrong?
Made a post about my results on my blog if anyone is interested.
Daniel, that could be. I find I really have to let go and focus to keep up the faster speeds.
I find now that if I’m cruising along I almost get into a sort of concentrated zone but lose it often and spend time trying to get back into it.
Baseline test of 468
After exercises was at 624
Thanks a lot!!
Wow Tim, thanks for the article! I have been doing the exercises in a sort of spaced repetition (Before bed, first thing in the morning, mid-day) and have noticed that my starting speed each time has felt slow but is nearly 3x my original speed of 188 without any stress. I have increased the speeds from 60bpm a line and 120bpm a line to 72bpm and 144bpm.
Also, I am using a metronome to keep my tempo true. MetronomeOnline.com is a simple app that will serve the purpose well. For consistent improvement it is important to have a measurable baseline. If I were preparing a piece of music for speed, I wouldn’t forgo metronome use.
Wow… I’m impressed. I started out at 240wpm and after doing the exercises I was at 507wpm. And only after a few minutes… that’s crazy. My guess is that practice will only make you faster…
although I couldn’t even read at 1 line per second, let alone comprehend, I persisted anyway – just charging along suspeding pessimism. LUDICROUSLY I improved from 209 wpm to 384 wpm. it felt like I’d habituated a faster eye speed, forcing my brain to keep up with rather than dictate my speed… hope this change sticks around as more than an afterglow.. or maybe I could try this exercise briefly before reading until it becomes natural. thankz dude
From 341 to 594.
Thank you for this article. I am going to try it, and will report back with my results… I am a very slow reader. 🙂
Hmm, an average technique, didn’t really work
Hi Tim – thanks for this AMAZING post! I did the exercise and my wpm increased by 137% – I practiced with my neuroscience book (an extremely technical book) and I was able to retain what I was reading while reading much faster. Your technique makes perfect sense – what you are doing is training your eyes to “read” more efficiently.
I will do this exercise daily for the next couple of weeks to see how much more I can improve.
After listening to the 4-Hour Workweek audio-book recommended too my as part of my reading material for an internship I am part of I remembered hearing about increasing reading speed. I looked it up and found this post. The information here is incredibly helpful as a lot of what I’m doing requires reading and understanding information.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve re-posted this on my blog. There’s a link at the bottom giving you full credit, and I will happily remove the post if you would prefer?
You’re a truly phenomenal person, and your book is amazing!
Keep up the good work!
I am taking the Earn1K course, and I think you should know that I made you laugh AT LEAST twice the other night. (“**** abandoned us,” for one)
I am having some difficulty applying the course because I don’t have hard technical skills and I don’t have much experience. (I just graduated college and negotiated a work-to-own for two nearby franchise tax offices. That is going well, but it leaves a lot to be desired in a career.)
Because I am so close to a university I think it might be worthwhile to apply the Earn1K system to teach speed reading. Are you willing to offer any more material or insight that might help me be successful??
Remember, I made you laugh.
I will try to keep this comment short – but I doubt that 🙂
This is the first time I have come across your blog. I was going to start reading a new book, which relates to quite a boring subject (PMP). I have tried to read this book couple of times eariler, but find myself completely forgetting what I have read, and never progressing beyond first few chapters.
So, I decided that in my first go I will just finish that book very fastly, and worry about comprehending it in second run. That’s when I started searching in Google for speed reading, and came across this article.
I followed exercises in this article to the tee, and found myself naturally increasing my reading speed quite a bit.
After that, I started reading the book very fastly, with the intention of not comprehending it.
After reading a few chapters, I found that not only had I read those chapters very quickly, surprisingly, I had understood everything and had 100% comprehension. That was quite surprising to me.
I again started searching on Google, and came across another article which mentioned that if we read slower than our mind can process information, then we are sure to not understand most of the stuff. That would be like watching movie in a slow motion.
In a nutshell, your speed reading techniques not only increased my reading speed, it also made sure that I was able to comprehend more efficiently, and lesser time.
Nothing beats that 🙂
Thank You. I am a regular reader now. Heading over to Amazon to try out the book as well.
I am a nursing school student and mother-of-two, and completely overwhelmed by massive amounts of text we are required to read. To add to it, I am not a fan of reading to begin with. It is tedious, and I often have to skip back to the beginning of a section because I didn’t quite comprehend what was written. Tedious, and un-fun, to say the least.
Books on speed reading are still books, and they take time to read. Your post is concise and to the point. Thank you!!
I tried the assessment exercise, and my eyes are sore (I supposed they didn’t get their mini breaks between the skips). My reading speed doubled with about the same amount of comprehension.
Your post encourages me to keep practicing, and spend less time reading, and more time with my girls!!
Wow! My eyes are sore after going through the assessment exercises, and I doubled my reading speed, with about the same amount of comprehension!!
I’ve been a reader of your blog for sometime now and I would like to personally give my thanks to you Tim. You got me interested in improving my skills in reading, comprehension, recall and memory.
The thing is I’ve always had problems with attention in school. I was only interested in certain subjects and things. If they where outside this I had a hard time keeping up. Especially with reading and recall. I thought that is it something wrong with me when it came to reading, keeping a focus and remembering things. Well I refused to believe in this :D! I said to myself a couple of years ago that there must be an explanation and something that I can do about my problems with learning, reading, attention etc.
Anyway to put it shortly I started to research and study what was it that gave me such trouble in these areas and came to find many great sources that helped me ALOT. There are things one can do to improve oneself!!!
I accidentally stumbled on your book and loved it. Then I stumbled on your blog through your book and loved it even more :D.
I want to say thanks for your blog and book. Have gotten alot of good info and ideas from it. Especially your blog posts like this one which worked like extremely flammable stuff that sky rocketed my progress. Not that I am a pyromaniac or something like that, just sky rocketed my progress :).
Thank’s again and hope to see more great posts from you!
Thank you so much, Adrian 🙂 Keep up the great progress!
The positive side to reading 300% faster is that I cover more during my metro ride to work. The downside is that now I spend nearly 80€/month more on books.
I hope the ipad makes up the difference.
Merci pour l’article!
Thanks! I don’t read books just because I don’t have time to read. I wanna read a lot of books. I’ll try to implement this.
Tim, youre amazing, latest book is a bible of useful insight. As to speed reading…
I’ve never been a fast reader, prob well below avg. I can now skim at 600 to 800 wpm with around 75% accuracy.
Full absorption slow reading is probably closer to 450 now. I must say that while it is possible, it has been hard work. This yr 2010, I spent a good 30 min + per day in jan at it with hard won progress. It takes time to retrain not to sub vocalize and to train the mind to capture more. I think you have some good ideas but would caution anyone this is not as easy as you may suggest. A suggestion… treat this like a sport. you know you could run 10 miles, but you also know you need to practice and get in shape first, no different in reading. It does work, but only through persistence and effort. I also recommend researching the low cost software packages out there that DO help. There are some good ones for less than $30 Be Well and at peace.
Hi, Tim. Just read your book and loved it. I’m still implementing and adapting some stuff, but already on my way to less than 10-hours week!
Anyway, i’m curious about this method. With long readings (more than 20 pages), i’m able to recall info up to one hour latter. But, the day after, i can’t really explain what i read. I’m guessing i’d need other techniques you taught on the seminar.
To the point: i’m trying to have your full lecture. However, i haven’t found a link or anything like that so that i can buy it. Is it avaible?
Thanks a lot for the inpiration!
Thank you so much for this wonderful oportunity. I went from about 1 page per minute to 2 1/2 pages per minute.
Hi – thanks Tim this is a great article – very interesting indeed. I have just established my base line and carried out all the exercises, but I feel like something is missing… Is there any more information on this that I can get my hands on? I want something really in-depth that I can study and perfect. This, while it is very useful, seems like an overview and it’s teasing me to want more information! Any help would be much appreciated!
I love the detail and precision that has been included in a post of this length. I saw people recommending whole books to be read and followed in the matter. Do you go beyond these measures and focus on other resources to control others? And as Tyler asked what are your thoughts on reading the image?
189 WPM to 369 WPM.
Thanks this will be helpful!
Good morning Tim, new reader here, I’ve only been aware of your existence for a short time but you seem like a very wise man whom I have very much to learn from in the coming months. I was wondering though, can these test results really be accurate? If you’re giving yourself 3 times as long in the final test (3 minutes) versus 1 minute in the baseline opening test, wouldn’t you obviously read 3 times as much? Granted, your technique did increase my reading speed by over 150 wpm in the short few minutes given but it appeared to be a much larger number when compared to the results from reading for one minute in the first test. Wouldn’t a more accurate final test call for the same amount of time as the opening test so your answers aren’t automatically a number three times the size of the first one?
The last total word count should be divided by 3 to get your wpm rate. Hope that helps!
Thanks for posting this. I just read about your post on another forum. Been trying to learn speed reading for the last couple of years but to know avail.
Looking forward to reading the post in more detail and doing the exercises.
I have been trying your suggestions, but have a question. As a person reads what are they to be thinking while going over the words/sentences? Are they just looking at the words, single or in groups…not sure what to be look at.
Hi dear Tim,
a friend gave me your book to read just few days ago. Now I have a technique how to be liberated even faster 🙂 Thanks for both
ANd this post is superb n awesome!
I am always looking for new information to give me inspiration for public speaking and reading has always been a limiting factor for me. I will be keen to see how your techniques help me and other members of our Toastmasters club.
Thanks a million
Dennis from Boaters Toastmasters, Christchurch, New Zealand
I loved your book. I think I’ve read it four times in the past year. Outsourcing galore. You molded my lifestyle. Actually my first idea to make money came directly from you, mainly from this post. You taught your speed reading class and made $1500 for 3 hours of work. No one can make that much hourly, especially with a traditional job. But you figured it out and did it while you were still in college. Thank you so much.
I can’t help but feel like I did it wrong.
I achieved an increase of 10.71%, which is something, but I think that it’s a lot less than what was expected.
I’m going to try this again tomorrow and see if I can improve.
Thank you for uploading this How-To though. I stumbled upon it by accident and it reminded me of the importance of reading. I’ve been having trouble immersing myself in a book because I feel like the speed at which I read is too slow for the novel/textbook to really progress. I’ll keep practising though.
Again, thank you.
As others have noted, sub-vocalization is a major roadblock to faster reading. While our minds, when focused, can process thoughts at several thousand words a minute, our speaking (even thinking the words) can only produce 200 or 300 words a minute.
As you mentioned, regression is also a major stumbling block to faster reading. One reason for regression is a wandering mind. Slow reading does not provide the mind with enough new information to keep it occupied. So, your mind wanders and you stop focusing on the text you are reading. Pushing up your reading rate will help keep the mind occupied and prevent it from wandering away from the subject you are reading about.
Your advice to us a tracker or pacer to push your reading rate up actually accomplishes at least these two purposes:
1) Reduces or eliminates regression by providing the mind with enough information to keep it occupied.
2) Reduces sub-vocalization because words are coming in too fast to mentally pronounce.
And, always pushing your limits helps the mind to learn to process more information and improves comprehension. This is why a good speed reading class will provide the students with motivation to keep practicing and building their reading speed even more.
I tried the eye lid exercise as you mentioned and wow – I could immediately notice the separate fixation movements!
I say there are 3 main road-blocks that can hold people back from increasing their reading speed:
1) Being to careful with their reading
2) Mouthing words (even with ones lips) while reading
3) Going back to re-read passages of material already read!
I’ve just read this article and am anxious to get started on these techniques. I have a hard time comprehending what I read so most of the time I’m re-reading things. Hopefully this will help me in my decision to go back to college. Great article.
I wonder if any of these methods work for older people as well. I am going to try and let you know later.
Quick tip for Pacing:
You can use a cheap digital metronome and set it to pace yourself
i.e. 50bpm = 1 click per line = average of 500wpm (or 100bpm @ 2 clicks per line give you the same speed. Could have each click as 1 fixation)
60bpm = 600wpm @ 1 click p/line 120bpm = 600bpm @ 2 clicks per line
etc etc, be creative
That’s something that has helped me a lot in pacing my reading and giving me a good idea of how fast/slow certain speeds are
This site is quite interesting to me as I’ve been reading (quickly) since grade school with apprehension. I’m now 48 years old and still can remember some books that I read in the 3rd grade (and a brief description of what it was about). I don’t know that I’m a speed reader, but I can go through a 400 page book in one afternoon quite easily.
I enjoyed reading the posts here. Thanks!
Hi Tim, nice name!
I tried this, and went from 345 wpm to 772 wpm after the first try. Cant wait to teach myself to go even faster.
Great guide to speed reading. I always wondered how to do it. I’ll have to reference this on our site to help students study quicker and read better.
This article is great. I am fan of personal development and accelerated reading is one of the biggest personal development goals. This article gave me some information that the books on this subject didn’t. Just keep up with good articles about this topic.
I’ve been doing this since I read it in Tony Buzan’s book about 10 years ago. Thanks for bringing it to the public arena. These techniques seem to make your brain work faster if you keep them up. Only problem is, you become a very impatient person!
A perfect 3x improvement.
Why the hell didn’t I do it a month ago?! That teaches me a lesson on procrastination.
Thanks to your book and the fantastic community that you have nurtured around it, I have been taken out of a slump I have been in for the past year. I feel like myself again. Five years spent high school teaching in Japan made me think that I was screwed for a career back at home. But now the entrepreneurial zest has come back in me like my UK student days.
Instead of seeing my ‘foreignness’ as a burden while living here in Japan, I am going to create my muse and explore the opportunities it presents.
I’ll get back to you in a month with progress.
Brilliant! Thanks buddy.
Andy in Osaka.
So after i’ve done these exercises once, what’s next?
How often should I do them, when should I expect getting solid improvements.
I’ve done them twice now and my increase is 28%.
My baseline speed is incredibly slow, 200 wpm.
Are these the only exercises that you would recommend doing?
You say it’s a “cursory” overview of speed reading techniques. Where can I get a detailed overview?
I was at a conference in Berlin last month where a researcher did a meta-analysis of all the different techniques for increasing reading speed- they all failed.
Do you think reading too fast is like eating ice cream too fast? Brain Freeze!
Thank you, that was an extremely interesting post. It just helped me increase my wpm count by 55%, although I do believe my comprehension is not quite as good at the faster speed than at my original speed.
For the full PX project seminar did the students use these same exercises for 3 hours or were there further more advanced exercises used past the first 20 minutes?
If you are doing any seminars or public appearances in the UK then please let us (your UK readers) know. I’m a big fan of your work and have found your writing and videos a great inspiration. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to the new book!
I tried speed reading but just can’t do it. I dont think my eyes are good enough for this 🙁
I am very interested in speed reading like this because I am a high school student taking very rigorous courses, and I admit reading is my largest time-consumer by far. I noticed you said that for study to use this technique to read the assigned reading 3 times instead of reading 3 assignments in the time it would take to read one. Is this due to a loss of retention while speed reading? I want to make sure I don’t sacrifice memorization for speed, as although I have been a slow reader, I have always been excellent at retaining information. If I do lose retention, would I end up doing better if I read an assignment twice in order to retain more while still shaving time off?
Great blog. I tried the techniques and the posts are very insightful, especially the deaf person not having that &*#$ voice inside one’s head to slow down reading. My son has been trying to get me to learn your techniques. And yes, he can be impatient with his Mom and me. I will break out of the audio mode of reading yet!
My programmer Chris really needs Speed Reading. While we were doing our language learning software development this summer while in Hawaii (We are into the four hour work week and the good life) he spent all summer reading Atlas Shrugged.
Now we will have to develop speed reading software for reading Russian!
Keep up the good work.
i think its ur nme……isn’t it! i read article previous year also but did not attempted it but i m in really need of it bcz my classmates r so intelligent that after all studying less hrs in reading than me they score and even perform better than me.
Can you just help me sending a mail on my this mail id about what to do to increase my this slow reading habit. i will definitely try to follow ur words on this web page but other things like how to commit whatever we think…how will it be possible as i never do what i think really….i always or even daily think of studying whole night as i wish to be 1st in class but i never did not a single time. and this thing always pull me back from what i really wish to be….
PLEASE HELP ME AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE>>>I…..I WILL BE