I was reading a link on twitter about how to improve your reading speed by 300%. That is a massive increase which is why it caught my eye. It was a link to a speed reading course promoted by US self-improvement blogger, Tim Ferriss. Tim is also famous for other experiments like the Four Hour Body. Tim published an article that I found intriguing. It was about how to increase your average reading speed.
Spending quite a bit of time working on my laptop I find it can be hard to absorb all the information the internet can throw at you. It is so time consuming when I’m trying to read so many great articles online. Most people only skim articles they read just like you are probably doing right now. When I searched Google I found there were many free or paid for speed reading courses in London. All of thee courses teach various speed reading techniques. However, today I want to give you the free speed reading lesson which I discovered Tim’s article.
Table of Contents
Reading Faster & Remember More
This speed reading video by Kris from Math Crazy explains a little bit more why you may be reading slowly at the moment and what he would recommend for you to improve your speed reading skill.
So have you ever wondered could you read an internet article like this one even faster? Would you like to try increase your average reading speed so that you can get through cool information on the net in a time efficient manner? Of course we would ll love that skill.
I know I definitely would this is why I read Tim Ferriss’s speed reading technique course on how to speed read in three steps.
The average reading speed in the US is 200-300 words per minute, according to Tim, which is a 0.5 to 1 page per minute, with the only the top 1% of the population reading over 400 words per minute.
In the speed reading course article by Tim Ferris he talks about the “PX project”, a speed reading technique.
The PX project, according to Tim, produced an average increase in reading speed of 386% in just 3 hours with the speed reading technique explained below.
I don’t know how well people could remember what they read at those speeds though. Especially since neuroscientist Dr Kawashima, of the Dr Kawashima Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain Game for Nintendo DS fame, says that to increase your memory ability you must read out aloud everyday what you are reading. Dr Kawashima also for interest sake says doing some simple arithmetic like adding, subtracting and dividing problems in the morning before work will also be brain exercise for your memory.
But I think reading aloud would dramatically slow down your speed reading ability. However, Tim says that you can be trained to understand what you are reading at those 300% increased average reading speeds improvements.
To use speed reading as a study skill you would need to read an article maybe 3 times instead of reading 3 articles to improve your education.
Lets now see what you need to start the free speed reading course at home right now.
The Step By Step Process
To perform the PX Project speed reading exercises, you will need:
- A book of 200+ pages that can lay 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.
Step 1: What is Your Reading Speed
To train yourself to speed read you would need to know what your current reading speed is or how many words per minute you can read. I used my old textbook from chiropractic college days “Bates Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking” to test my reading speed.
To calculate your current reading speed follow these steps:
- Take the practice book easier with a hard cover book of 200+ pages you want to use, lay it 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 the number for your average number of words-per-line.
Example: 59 words/5 lines = 11.8, which you would round to 12 words-per-line
- Now 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 number by the average number of words-per-line, and you will have your average number of words per page.
Example: 219 lines/5 pages = 43.8, which is rounded to 44 lines per page x 12 words-per-line = 528 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 understanding as you would normally).
- After exactly one minute, multiply the number of lines by your average words-per-line = your current words-per-minute rate .
Example: 17 lines x 12 words-per-line = 204 words-per-minute
So my current personal words per minute reading speed is only 204. Which shocked me as it means I’m at the bottom end of average for the US reading speed.
So what’s your reading speed score? Why not let me know by leaving your speed number in the comment section at the end of the article.
Step 2: Improve Your Reading Focus
Tim talks about trackers and pacers. Using something like a pen or your finger tip to guide your eye along the lines of a page and under each word to help you focus will help increase your word per minute reading speed.
Using a tracker or pacer will help stop you re-reading what you have just read and staring at one point in a line. So here is the second step to increase your speed reading course.
Holding the pen in your dominant hand, you will underline each line (with the cap on), keeping your eye looking 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 staring (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 (Time – 2 min): 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.
HINT: to know if you are keeping up with 1 sec per-line you can use the sound of weird metronome from download.com for a beat of 1 sec set it to 60 beats and for 1/2 sec set it to 120 beats.Thanks, to Boris for the heads up.
2. Speed (Time – 3 min):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.
Step 3: Improve Your Peripheral Reading
If you had to read each word on a page by focusing on it you wouldn’t be able to speed read to your full potential of 300% faster.
So being able to focus on a word, but see the word on the left and right of the word you are focusing is required to speed read. So you can read 3 words by looking at 1 word. This is peripheral reading or as Tim calls it perceptual expansion. Here is how to train your peripheral reading speed vision.
1. Technique (Time – 1 min): 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 (Time – 1 min):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 (Time – 3 min):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.
The Bottom Line
I hope you have felt inspired to try the 3 speed reading course steps as I did after reading Tim Ferriss’s speed reading blog post.
I do think we need speed reading as a skill for self-improvement education to read or study all the good information out there in the world.
Oh and by the way my speed reading speed improved from 204 to 396 words per minute within 10 min.
I have just got to get used to start reading 3 words in on a line instead of 1. Least my speed reading skill improved 51% with very little effort so now I can read or study more in a day if I wanted to.
Happy speed reading.Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Steve Bowbrick