One of the easiest and simplest ways to improve reading speed, of the many that are available, is to skim the content of the material you are about to read before actually reading it. It’s a very good idea to speed read for the most important, or main ideas in any work of non-fiction or any textbook. You can accomplish this by glancing over the table of contents as well as skimming the first and last sentence of every paragraph before you start reading the main text.
Different Priorities for Different Materials
You can also improve reading speed by setting up a system of priorities for different types of reading material so that you categorize them by most important, somewhat important, and unimportant. Then you can read one category at a time depending on where you have set its priority. Additionally, it would serve you well to do your reading in an appropriate environment. By this, I mean that it is never a good idea to try and read important categories of material, or anything with a difficult comprehension curve, while you are lying in bed or just slouching about. If you have a specific ‘reading/studying’ area set aside, perhaps with a desk, comfy chair, and good lighting, you are more inclined to remember what you have read.
Another way to improve reading speed is to do your most difficult reading in the earliest part of the day as your mind will be clear and you will be rested from the night before. It is one of the reasons that very successful people arise early and tackle difficult projects first rather than in the evening.
When you are reading reference books or any kind of difficult textbook, it is a good idea to treat the headings as questions. This way you can scan the rest of the text and look for answers to the ‘heading’ questions while you are reading. This will also help you to remain focused as well as improve your reading speed.
Text Highlighting Is Not Helpful
Many people believe that highlighting the text as you read will help to improve reading speed. This is not true as you will have not only slower reading speed but less comprehension. You may even be inclined to read the text over again, which would be a complete waste of time.
It is not a bad idea to scan and preview whatever material you are about to read, prior to actually reading it, as you can obtain a sense of what’s important and relevant in the text, which will then increase your reading speed.
Almost everyone who does any amount of reading will wonder if learning to speed read would help them. The simple answer is that it probably will and you could test this out by taking a speed-reading class. These classes will teach you how to read fast and teach you other methods of improving your reading speed by being flexible and pacing yourself while reading. The type of material you are trying to comprehend, the place where you are doing your reading and your attitude all play a part in improving your reading speed.