How to Read Faster & Retain Information

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Speed reading is a tool that teaches you how to read faster and retain information. If you are interested in improving the speed at which you read and the amount of information  you take in when reading, then there are some speed reading techniques that are more suitable than others. The key is to consider whether you simply want to take in a large volume of information with potentially a lesser degree of understanding, or do you need to read a lot in more depth, but you want to speed up the process. While you want to improve the pace at which you read, if you are learning important information for an exam or as a work requirement, then you don’t miss vital information.

Increase your speed without compromising on comprehension

Like most things in life, pick up the pace and you may miss something. Reading is no different and when you master speed reading, you need to ensure that you don’t miss important pieces of information.  Different techniques can increase your speed to different extents, and the volume that you are reading can be a part of how much you can actually comprehend. The average person reads around 200 words per minute, however this can be increased to 400 to 600 words per minute with techniques such as sub-vocalisation reduction and meta reading. Other speed reading techniques such as skimming can take the reader up to 700 plus words per minute, however comprehension then diminishes.

Knowing how to read faster and retain information is not only about your ability to take information in quickly; it is also about comprehending and being able to recollect and apply what you’ve read at a later date. Techniques such as PhotoReading which claim that you can learn to read up to 25,000 words per minute have yet to be completely proven. The biggest problem however is that reading at a dramatically high speed is likely to significantly reduce the comprehension and retention of the finer points in the passages read.

Options to increase both speed and information retention

If you want to successfully increase your reading speed to cover and comprehend more information in a shorter space of time, then you may wish to consider the following techniques.

Decrease sub-vocalisation – When we first learn to read, we are taught to say words aloud and learn to sound words out that we are unfamiliar with. This process is what causes us to ‘say’ what we read in our heads. One of the more effective speed reading options involves in reducing the amount of time we spend on sub-vocalisation, thereby increasing our reading speed, without compromising information retention.

Schematic processing – This is a process whereby the knowledge you already have is put to better use when reading. Through schematic processing (also known as mind-mapping), you’ll learn how to read faster and retain information by focussing your energy on retaining new details, building upon that which you already know from previous study and reading.

Meta reading – A simple act such as running your finger along the line you are reading can keep you moving forward and help to reduce sub-vocalisation. This meta reading technique is not going to necessarily make you super speedy, but it will increase your reading pace and you’ll be taking in what you are reading so that you’ll be able to recollect it well in the future.

Knowing how to read faster and retain information is a useful way to quickly pick up new ideas and skills for your work. It is also useful when you need to do a lot of reading for a course of study.  Without solid strategies for retaining that information, there is more opportunity to excel through the application of that information, whether it is for work-life or the study you are undertaking.