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When to Speed Ahead, and When to 
Brake… 
Reading Strategies Workshop – Student Reading Center 
Spring 2014
How to 
IMPROVE YOUR READING 
RATE 
And MAXIMIZE YOUR 
COMPREHENSION ?? 
https://www.youtube.com/watch 
?v=E_ygu4qWlmw
Essential Skill 
• Speed Reading helps you read and 
understand text more quickly. 
• It is an essential skill in any environment 
where you have to understand a large 
amount of information quickly (every fast-moving 
professional environment).
WHY SHOULD I IMPROVE MY 
READING RATE? 
• In college, you have more to read and less time 
• Reading too slowly reduces comprehension 
• Reading too slowly does not stimulate your brain 
and decreases interest in the text 
• You have the capability-1 trillion brain cells and 
the visual capacity to take in a full page of text in 
1/20 of a second 
• Reading 500+ wpm is attainable
Improving Reading Speed: 
• Everyone can double their speed of reading 
while maintaining equal or even higher 
comprehension.
AVERAGE READING RATES 
• Adult – 250 WPM with 70% 
comprehension (Smith, 2005) 
• College Student – 300 WPM 
• Slow Readers – 150 WPM or less or 
250 WPM with limited comprehension
Words Per Minute 
• The average college student reads between 
250 and 350 words per minute on fiction and 
non-technical materials. 
• A "good" reading speed is around 500 to 700 
words per minute, but some people can read 
a thousand words per minute or even faster.
SPEED READING IS NOT MAGIC. 
IT REQUIRES: 
• The desire to improve your reading 
skills 
• The willingness to try new techniques 
in reading 
• The motivation to practice reading
What You Need First 
• necessary vocabulary 
• comprehension skills 
If you understand college-level materials, you 
are ready for speed reading practice
Research Based Reading Study 
Method: SQ4R 
• SURVEY – Skim title, subheadings, 
graphics, captions, boldface terms, first 
one to two paragraphs, summary 
– As you skim, ask yourself, “What do I know 
about these topics?” 
– Bring in your background knowledge and 
your prior experiences 
– Take no more than 5 minutes for an 
average chapter
SQ4R 
• QUESTION - Turn the first subheading 
into a question using how, why, what, 
when, where, who? 
– This technique creates reading for a 
purpose – you are now seeking an answer 
– Improves focus and concentration
SQ4R 
• READ – Quickly and selectively-remember 
that you are searching for an 
answer to your question 
– Read only one section or a few 
paragraphs, depending on the difficulty of 
the text 
• RECITE – Answer your question 
ALOUD 
– If you can’t say it, you don’t know it.
SQ4R 
• RITE – This is the note-taking step 
– Writing the answer to your question and other relevant 
information doubles retention 
– Cornell Method, Outline, Double and Triple Column 
Journal, Graphics, Post-it-Notes 
– This step creates an ongoing study guide 
REPEAT THE CYCLE: Question, Read, Recite, Rite as 
you read the next section of text. Repeat this cycle until 
you have completed the reading assignment or the 
chapter
QUESTION, READ, RECITE, (W)RITE 
CYCLE 
RECITE 
RITE 
READ 
QUESTION
SQ4R 
• REVIEW – When you have completed the 
reading assignment, following the Question, 
Read, Recite, and Rite cycle, survey again, 
answering your questions as you skim 
– One week later, review the information again 
– Review each week until you are tested, creating a 
cumulative weekly review 
– This step transfers information from short-term memory 
to long-term memory 
– Take 5 minutes to Review
Factors that Reduce Reading 
Rate 
(a) word-by-word reading 
(b) slowness of recognition and slow 
response to the material 
(c) vocalization, including the need to 
vocalize in order to achieve comprehension 
(d) faulty eye movements 
(e) regression, (habitual or lack of 
concentration)
Factors… 
(f) faulty processes of retention 
(g) lack of practice in reading due to time 
constraints or lack of interest in reading 
(h) fear of losing comprehension, 
myth: if you spend more time on individual 
words, comprehension will increase 
(i) habitual slow reading (he has always read 
slowly)
Factors… 
• (j) poor evaluation (which aspects are 
important and which are unimportant) 
• (k) the effort to remember everything rather 
than to remember selectively
WHAT FACTORS INCREASE READING 
RATE AND COMPREHENSION? 
• Set yourself up to succeed – read in a 
quiet distraction free environment 
• Do not read on your bed 
• Read actively: Set your purpose for 
reading and self-monitor 
• Increase your eye-span - Chunking 
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE 
READING!!!
You Need the Right Method 
In order to increase your reading rate and 
increase your comprehension. you need to 
adopt the right method. 
Don’t simply start reading more rapidly – this 
won’t improve your basic reading habits. 
In fact, it usually results in lowered 
comprehension.
Basic Conditions for Increased 
Reading Rate 
A well planned program designed to 
maximize your reading rate must 
involve ‘necessary conditions’. 
Four basic conditions include:
Condition One 
• Before embarking on a speed reading 
program, have your eyes checked 
• Often, very slow reading is related to 
uncorrected eye defects.
Condition Two 
• Eliminate the habit of pronouncing words as you 
read. 
• You can read only as fast as you can read aloud. 
You should be able to read most materials at 
least two or three times faster silently than orally. 
• Try to concentrate on key words and meaningful 
ideas as you force yourself to read faster.
ELIMINATE 
SUBVOCALIZATION 
• The inner voice experienced as a slight 
movement in the tongue or throat region 
– Slows down reading to about 250 wpm, the 
speed of normal speech 
• REMEDY 
– Decrease eye fixation: Word-for-word 
reading
Condition Three 
• Avoid regressing (rereading). 
The average student reading at 250 words 
per minute regresses or rereads about 20 
times per page. 
• Rereading words and phrases is a habit that will 
slow your reading speed down to a snail's pace.
Regression 
Usually, it is unnecessary to reread words, for 
the ideas you want are explained and 
elaborated more fully in later contexts. 
Furthermore, the slowest reader usually 
regresses most frequently because his mind 
has time to wander.
To prevent regression, 
and to read at an appropriate 
reading rate for each document… 
know what you want to learn 
from that document. 
• The most important trick about speed 
reading is to know what information you want 
from a document before you start reading it
Outline vs. Thorough 
Understanding 
• If you only want an outline of the issue that 
the document discusses, then you can skim 
the document very quickly and extract only 
the essential facts. 
• If you need to understand the real detail of 
the document, then you need to read it slowly 
enough to fully understand it.
Rate Adjustment 
The effective reader adjusts his rate; the 
ineffective reader uses the same rate for all 
types of material. 
If you are aware of what you want to learn from 
each document, you can vary your reading 
rate accordingly.
TYPES OF READING 
• Scanning – Telephone book, dictionary 
• Skimming – Surveying, previewing, checking relevance 
of text 
• Light Reading – Reading for leisure, novels, 100-200 
wpm 
• Word by word – Scientific information, unfamiliar terms 
• Study Reading – SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, 
Recite, Rite, Review) Goal: In depth comprehension 
ADJUST YOUR SPEED ACCORDING TO YOUR 
PURPOSE FOR READING AND THE DIFFICULTY 
OF THE TEXT
Condition Four 
• Develop a wider eye-span: 
This will help you read more than one word at 
a glance. Since written material is less 
meaningful if read word by word, this will help 
you learn to read by phrases or thought units.
INCREASE EYE SPAN - CHUNKING 
– Eye span is the number of words that you read at one 
time 
– Chunking 2 words doubles rate, 3 words triples, 4 
words quadruples… 
– Increases comprehension 
– Focus is on how the words fit together to make 
meaning, rather than on each individual word in 
isolation 
PEN AS A PACER TECHNIQUE 
Goal – To increase the number of words within a chunk
Don’t ‘Plod’... “CHUNK” instead 
“Although there is at present little statistical 
evidence, it seems that plodding word-by-word 
(or word reading) inhibits 
understanding”.
A Skilled Reader 
• reads many words in each block and 
dwells on each block for an instant 
• rarely skips back to a previous block of 
words 
• this reduces the amount of work that the 
reader's eyes have to do 
• increases the volume of information that 
can be examined in a period of time
A Poor Reader 
• is overwhelmed, spends a lot of time reading 
small blocks of words 
• skips back often, loses the flow and structure 
of the text and overall understanding of the 
subject 
• has irregular eye movements, which makes 
reading tiring 
• dislikes reading, and may find it harder to 
concentrate and understand written 
information
Increase, Reduce, Reduce 
Speed reading aims to improve reading skills 
by: 
1. increasing the number of words read in 
each block 
2. reducing the length of time spent 
reading each block, and 
3. reducing the number of times your eyes 
skip back to a previous sentence
Increasing the number of 
words in each block: 
• conscious effort 
• try to expand the number of words that you 
read at a time 
• practice will help you to read faster 
• you may also find that you can increase the 
number of words read by holding the text a 
little further from your eyes 
• the more words you can read in each block, 
the faster you will read!
Reducing Fixation Time: 
• The minimum length of time needed to read 
each block: a quarter of a second. 
• Push yourself to reduce the time you take! 
• And…you will get better at picking up 
information quickly. 
• Practice and Confidence!
Reducing Skip-Back: 
• To reduce the number of times that your eyes 
skip back to a previous sentence, run a 
pointer along the line as you 
read. 
your eyes will follow
Experiment Using these 
Techniques 
• Previewing 
• Skimming 
• Clustering
Previewing 
• Previewing: Read the entire two 
paragraphs and the first sentence 
of each successive paragraph and 
then read the entire last two 
paragraphs. 
• Previewing doesn’t give you all of 
the details, but it does keep you 
from spending time on unnecessary 
information.
Skimming 
• Think of your eyes as magnets; force 
them to move fast. Sweep them across 
each and every line. 
• Skimming can give you a general 
impression of a text in less than half the 
time it would take you to read every 
word.
Clustering or “Chunking” 
• Train your eyes to see all the words 
in clusters of up to three or four 
words at a glance. 
• Clustering trains you to look at 
groups of words and ideas instead 
of at one at a time. This will 
increase your speed and 
comprehension enormously.
Summary of Tips 
• Make fewer fixations per line. 
• Concentrate on key words. 
• Break sentences into logical 
thought groups. 
• Eliminate bad reading habits – 
don’t regress.
Most Importantly: 
• Read regularly – practice is 
important – make reading habitual. 
• Improve your vocabulary. Strange 
words interfere with understanding 
– become familiar with a new word 
everyday.
Suggestions 
• Join a book club. 
• Read every night before you go to 
bed. 
• Purchase a newspaper and/or 
magazine subscription (or visit the 
library everyday). 
• Turn off the TV.
References 
• http://www.studyhall.com 
• Rood, S. (2000). Improving Reading 
Speed and Comprehension. 
Longwood University. 
• Smith, B. (2004). Breaking through 
college reading. 7E. NY: Longman. 
• Presentation provided by UTPB West Texas Literacy Center an 
HSI funded program. HSI is a federally funded program granted 
by the Department of Education Title V programs. 
• Developed by: Ana Miller, M.A.. Ed., Reading Specialist

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Speed reading and when to put on the brakes

  • 1. When to Speed Ahead, and When to Brake… Reading Strategies Workshop – Student Reading Center Spring 2014
  • 2. How to IMPROVE YOUR READING RATE And MAXIMIZE YOUR COMPREHENSION ?? https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=E_ygu4qWlmw
  • 3. Essential Skill • Speed Reading helps you read and understand text more quickly. • It is an essential skill in any environment where you have to understand a large amount of information quickly (every fast-moving professional environment).
  • 4. WHY SHOULD I IMPROVE MY READING RATE? • In college, you have more to read and less time • Reading too slowly reduces comprehension • Reading too slowly does not stimulate your brain and decreases interest in the text • You have the capability-1 trillion brain cells and the visual capacity to take in a full page of text in 1/20 of a second • Reading 500+ wpm is attainable
  • 5. Improving Reading Speed: • Everyone can double their speed of reading while maintaining equal or even higher comprehension.
  • 6. AVERAGE READING RATES • Adult – 250 WPM with 70% comprehension (Smith, 2005) • College Student – 300 WPM • Slow Readers – 150 WPM or less or 250 WPM with limited comprehension
  • 7. Words Per Minute • The average college student reads between 250 and 350 words per minute on fiction and non-technical materials. • A "good" reading speed is around 500 to 700 words per minute, but some people can read a thousand words per minute or even faster.
  • 8. SPEED READING IS NOT MAGIC. IT REQUIRES: • The desire to improve your reading skills • The willingness to try new techniques in reading • The motivation to practice reading
  • 9. What You Need First • necessary vocabulary • comprehension skills If you understand college-level materials, you are ready for speed reading practice
  • 10. Research Based Reading Study Method: SQ4R • SURVEY – Skim title, subheadings, graphics, captions, boldface terms, first one to two paragraphs, summary – As you skim, ask yourself, “What do I know about these topics?” – Bring in your background knowledge and your prior experiences – Take no more than 5 minutes for an average chapter
  • 11. SQ4R • QUESTION - Turn the first subheading into a question using how, why, what, when, where, who? – This technique creates reading for a purpose – you are now seeking an answer – Improves focus and concentration
  • 12. SQ4R • READ – Quickly and selectively-remember that you are searching for an answer to your question – Read only one section or a few paragraphs, depending on the difficulty of the text • RECITE – Answer your question ALOUD – If you can’t say it, you don’t know it.
  • 13. SQ4R • RITE – This is the note-taking step – Writing the answer to your question and other relevant information doubles retention – Cornell Method, Outline, Double and Triple Column Journal, Graphics, Post-it-Notes – This step creates an ongoing study guide REPEAT THE CYCLE: Question, Read, Recite, Rite as you read the next section of text. Repeat this cycle until you have completed the reading assignment or the chapter
  • 14. QUESTION, READ, RECITE, (W)RITE CYCLE RECITE RITE READ QUESTION
  • 15. SQ4R • REVIEW – When you have completed the reading assignment, following the Question, Read, Recite, and Rite cycle, survey again, answering your questions as you skim – One week later, review the information again – Review each week until you are tested, creating a cumulative weekly review – This step transfers information from short-term memory to long-term memory – Take 5 minutes to Review
  • 16. Factors that Reduce Reading Rate (a) word-by-word reading (b) slowness of recognition and slow response to the material (c) vocalization, including the need to vocalize in order to achieve comprehension (d) faulty eye movements (e) regression, (habitual or lack of concentration)
  • 17. Factors… (f) faulty processes of retention (g) lack of practice in reading due to time constraints or lack of interest in reading (h) fear of losing comprehension, myth: if you spend more time on individual words, comprehension will increase (i) habitual slow reading (he has always read slowly)
  • 18. Factors… • (j) poor evaluation (which aspects are important and which are unimportant) • (k) the effort to remember everything rather than to remember selectively
  • 19. WHAT FACTORS INCREASE READING RATE AND COMPREHENSION? • Set yourself up to succeed – read in a quiet distraction free environment • Do not read on your bed • Read actively: Set your purpose for reading and self-monitor • Increase your eye-span - Chunking PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE READING!!!
  • 20. You Need the Right Method In order to increase your reading rate and increase your comprehension. you need to adopt the right method. Don’t simply start reading more rapidly – this won’t improve your basic reading habits. In fact, it usually results in lowered comprehension.
  • 21. Basic Conditions for Increased Reading Rate A well planned program designed to maximize your reading rate must involve ‘necessary conditions’. Four basic conditions include:
  • 22. Condition One • Before embarking on a speed reading program, have your eyes checked • Often, very slow reading is related to uncorrected eye defects.
  • 23. Condition Two • Eliminate the habit of pronouncing words as you read. • You can read only as fast as you can read aloud. You should be able to read most materials at least two or three times faster silently than orally. • Try to concentrate on key words and meaningful ideas as you force yourself to read faster.
  • 24. ELIMINATE SUBVOCALIZATION • The inner voice experienced as a slight movement in the tongue or throat region – Slows down reading to about 250 wpm, the speed of normal speech • REMEDY – Decrease eye fixation: Word-for-word reading
  • 25. Condition Three • Avoid regressing (rereading). The average student reading at 250 words per minute regresses or rereads about 20 times per page. • Rereading words and phrases is a habit that will slow your reading speed down to a snail's pace.
  • 26. Regression Usually, it is unnecessary to reread words, for the ideas you want are explained and elaborated more fully in later contexts. Furthermore, the slowest reader usually regresses most frequently because his mind has time to wander.
  • 27. To prevent regression, and to read at an appropriate reading rate for each document… know what you want to learn from that document. • The most important trick about speed reading is to know what information you want from a document before you start reading it
  • 28. Outline vs. Thorough Understanding • If you only want an outline of the issue that the document discusses, then you can skim the document very quickly and extract only the essential facts. • If you need to understand the real detail of the document, then you need to read it slowly enough to fully understand it.
  • 29. Rate Adjustment The effective reader adjusts his rate; the ineffective reader uses the same rate for all types of material. If you are aware of what you want to learn from each document, you can vary your reading rate accordingly.
  • 30. TYPES OF READING • Scanning – Telephone book, dictionary • Skimming – Surveying, previewing, checking relevance of text • Light Reading – Reading for leisure, novels, 100-200 wpm • Word by word – Scientific information, unfamiliar terms • Study Reading – SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Rite, Review) Goal: In depth comprehension ADJUST YOUR SPEED ACCORDING TO YOUR PURPOSE FOR READING AND THE DIFFICULTY OF THE TEXT
  • 31. Condition Four • Develop a wider eye-span: This will help you read more than one word at a glance. Since written material is less meaningful if read word by word, this will help you learn to read by phrases or thought units.
  • 32. INCREASE EYE SPAN - CHUNKING – Eye span is the number of words that you read at one time – Chunking 2 words doubles rate, 3 words triples, 4 words quadruples… – Increases comprehension – Focus is on how the words fit together to make meaning, rather than on each individual word in isolation PEN AS A PACER TECHNIQUE Goal – To increase the number of words within a chunk
  • 33. Don’t ‘Plod’... “CHUNK” instead “Although there is at present little statistical evidence, it seems that plodding word-by-word (or word reading) inhibits understanding”.
  • 34. A Skilled Reader • reads many words in each block and dwells on each block for an instant • rarely skips back to a previous block of words • this reduces the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do • increases the volume of information that can be examined in a period of time
  • 35. A Poor Reader • is overwhelmed, spends a lot of time reading small blocks of words • skips back often, loses the flow and structure of the text and overall understanding of the subject • has irregular eye movements, which makes reading tiring • dislikes reading, and may find it harder to concentrate and understand written information
  • 36. Increase, Reduce, Reduce Speed reading aims to improve reading skills by: 1. increasing the number of words read in each block 2. reducing the length of time spent reading each block, and 3. reducing the number of times your eyes skip back to a previous sentence
  • 37. Increasing the number of words in each block: • conscious effort • try to expand the number of words that you read at a time • practice will help you to read faster • you may also find that you can increase the number of words read by holding the text a little further from your eyes • the more words you can read in each block, the faster you will read!
  • 38. Reducing Fixation Time: • The minimum length of time needed to read each block: a quarter of a second. • Push yourself to reduce the time you take! • And…you will get better at picking up information quickly. • Practice and Confidence!
  • 39. Reducing Skip-Back: • To reduce the number of times that your eyes skip back to a previous sentence, run a pointer along the line as you read. your eyes will follow
  • 40. Experiment Using these Techniques • Previewing • Skimming • Clustering
  • 41. Previewing • Previewing: Read the entire two paragraphs and the first sentence of each successive paragraph and then read the entire last two paragraphs. • Previewing doesn’t give you all of the details, but it does keep you from spending time on unnecessary information.
  • 42. Skimming • Think of your eyes as magnets; force them to move fast. Sweep them across each and every line. • Skimming can give you a general impression of a text in less than half the time it would take you to read every word.
  • 43. Clustering or “Chunking” • Train your eyes to see all the words in clusters of up to three or four words at a glance. • Clustering trains you to look at groups of words and ideas instead of at one at a time. This will increase your speed and comprehension enormously.
  • 44. Summary of Tips • Make fewer fixations per line. • Concentrate on key words. • Break sentences into logical thought groups. • Eliminate bad reading habits – don’t regress.
  • 45. Most Importantly: • Read regularly – practice is important – make reading habitual. • Improve your vocabulary. Strange words interfere with understanding – become familiar with a new word everyday.
  • 46. Suggestions • Join a book club. • Read every night before you go to bed. • Purchase a newspaper and/or magazine subscription (or visit the library everyday). • Turn off the TV.
  • 47. References • http://www.studyhall.com • Rood, S. (2000). Improving Reading Speed and Comprehension. Longwood University. • Smith, B. (2004). Breaking through college reading. 7E. NY: Longman. • Presentation provided by UTPB West Texas Literacy Center an HSI funded program. HSI is a federally funded program granted by the Department of Education Title V programs. • Developed by: Ana Miller, M.A.. Ed., Reading Specialist