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How to Improve Your Reading Speed and Retention

Updated on July 10, 2020

Reading skills and Improved Comprehension

Sharing this simple and age old technique will increase your basic reading skill, speed and comprehension.

We must remember that people are short of time. A few minutes working on your reading now, could save hours in the future.

How many times have you read a page, yet cannot remember a single word that you have read. We need to focus and what better way than to use a finger or a pointer.

When we were children this is how we learned to read. It worked but for some reason this simple methods gets lost as we grow up.i

Reading is such a wonderful skill and we sometimes take it for granted...When we can read.

We even sometimes forget that it is a learned skill. It becomes so much a part of us.

Basic Reading Starts Early

Reading is fun
Reading is fun | Source

Reading is an aquired Skill

It is however a truly amazing skill to have, and by no means always a simple thing to master.

Even today, there are millions of people around the world, that cannot read. So we should cherish our reading skill, a little more.

When we think of the advantages basic reading brings. Think about how you learned to read.

The way that you followed the words with your finger. You may have actually been reprimanded, for doing this intuitive thing.

In fact, it is a very successful method for focusing the eyes, and rapidly improving your reading speed and understanding.

Kings College Chapel Universary of Cambridge

Kings College Chapel University of Cambridge When you attend a university your primary role is to 'read' to conduct your research.
Kings College Chapel University of Cambridge When you attend a university your primary role is to 'read' to conduct your research. | Source

Reading and retention

When you can read. You can literally become whatever you want to be.

If you are, or have been lucky enough to go to university. You will know that whatever the subject is that you study. You will be reading.

For example you may read Science, Technology or Art. Whatever the subject.

You are relying on basic reading skills. You can read your way to becoming a Doctor, a Dentist, a Businessman or Woman, or the Head of Finance for some huge corporation or even a Teacher.

All this from just basic reading. Think about this for a minute.

How to read faster and better

The Practical Method

How many times have you been reading a book, a magazine, a safety leaflet on a plane, while waiting to take off on holiday. Or some instructions on, how to put that self-assembly book shelf together. That is still sitting in the hall.

The thing you are reading just won't go into your head. You have to constantly go back and re-read the same thing. Repetition helps.

When you realise that often you have to repeat something, a few times, to retain it.

Then you will understand this simple strategy. You have read it once, but may have forgotten already. It happens to just about everyone.

Reading skill helps in everyday life

Reading a menu couldn't be easier when you have mastered your reading skill
Reading a menu couldn't be easier when you have mastered your reading skill | Source

Reading can fire your imagination

Why is the book always better than the movie. Our imaginations fills in the blanks with visuals that can rarely be matched by a movie.

The fact is, that when we are reading there is an awful lot going on, that you may not be fully conscious of.

The images on the side. Some noise in the distance. All distract you from reading. You are reading this article. Did you think, when you read the line above, about re-reading things... yeah.

This happens to everyone at some stage. You may have started thinking about, when it last happened to you. If you did, don’t worry.

It is perfectly normal. Words act as triggers that send us off in all directions. Any good poet, novelist, playwright or lyric writer, depends on you filling in the blanks on the page, with your imagination.

How many times have you watched a movie and said. ‘The book was so much better’ Because you filled out the book's story from your mind.

So how do you reduce these departures or ‘time outs’, when you are reading.

We need to know how our eyes work with our brains. Firstly we are pretty much still cave men and women.

Our instinctual default view of the world, is to gather as much information about the world; as quickly as possible.

It is only after we have perceived a ‘no-threat’ environment, that our developed rational and logical functions come into play.

Victorian Samplers were used to practice reading and writing

Victorian children had to make these samplers for 'entertainment'
Victorian children had to make these samplers for 'entertainment' | Source

Problem Solved

What has this to do with basic reading.

When you pick up a book on any reading material your eyes flit around and scan the page from top to bottom right to left, left to right and diagonally.

In fact we look just about everywhere except top left where the sentence begins.

What we are doing is ‘hunting’ for important information on the page that we can quickly assess and determine its usefulness to us. Our primary reading skill then, is to focus.

It is only after this process that we can get down to reading proper. As mentioned above, add to this the ‘time outs’ that key words and phrases cause. It’s little wonder that we have to re-read things so often.

The solution thankfully is quiet simple and effective.

Remember when you were a child and you would follow the words on the page with your finger. Well it turns out that this is a really smart thing to do.

It focuses’ our attention to that one spot.

Many professionals and teachers use this method all the time in class, when they are pointing out things on the blackboard or on the interactive white board.

So next time you read something. Follow the words with a pen, pencil a mouse or your finger and you will be impressed at how quickly it improves you reading.

After practising this method for a while your reading skill and speed will increase dramatically, as well as your comprehension and retention.

Remember to practice these ideas daily and they will stick.

Cambridge University

Cambridge Univesity UK:
University of Cambridge, 1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE, UK

get directions

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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