Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:17 am Post subject: Boosting Reading Speed and Comprehension
I've mentioned some of this in the past, but at a request for info from riws, here's my fresh take:
What inspired me to boost my reading speed and comprehension was (along with all the obvious benefits) the world speed reading champion, Anne Jones. Her top speed is purportedly 4,700 wpm at 67% comprehension. Some quick math allows us to infer that to have 100% comprehension she'd have to slow down to 3149 wpm (4700 x 0.67). This is how speed reading contests calculate it, and while it might not actually work this way, there's no actual testing method that I'm aware of other than trial and error (and for the purposes of inspiring me, it's pointless).
Anyway, average human reading comprehension is only 70% so that's not bad (Smith, Brenda D. "Breaking Through: College Reading" 7th Ed. Longman, 2004).
That all being said, knowing what's possible gave me a place to start, and now here's what I've done. Using my methods I'm at about 600 wpm with about 75% comprehension, I have 100% at around 400 (self tested for those wondering). Also keep in mind these are current levels and that I haven't practised boosting my speed for awhile.
Brainwave entrainment is a big part. I said in another thread that I have my own ECG. Electrocardiogram, measuring heart rate. While I DO have one of those, what I had meant to type was EEG. Electroencephalograph, for measuring brainwaves. It was this that helped me learn to master my brainwave state with biofeedback in an empirical way and not just a "oh I FEEL like I'm in alpha!".
Anyway I found my reading speed and comprehension took a huge boost in alpha or delta.
Mastering removing subvocalization also helped me boost my speed while maintaining comprehension (sort of like chunking data). This CAN slow your reading down depending on what you're reading and what you're trying to do though so I use it on and off; I find that having the mastery is always a good thing incase I do need it.
Chunking data, as above, is another good skill. It's sort of like removing subvocalization, but is also more intangible. I like to describe it as "conceptualizing" the data as opposed to "reading" it, since it paints a picture of what I'm reading in my head like watching a movie. This really seems to help my comprehension (past testing).
In the past my chunking had somewhat combined with my skimming to allow me to skim with 100% READING comprehension at about 800 wpm. I found that my eyes would instantly jump from the most important word in a sentence and my peripheral vision and conceptualization would pick up the slack.
I just this minute did some anecdotal and suppositional maths; it sounds kinda like bullshit, but read before you judge. I make no claims that it's 100% factual and welcome any criticisms of my reasoning; they can help me amend.
The average person reads 250 wpm (that's about a page in the average pocketbook) with 70% comprehension. In calculating my own writing, my average sentence has 22 words in it. Now if the skimming-chunking method I described above lets you "read" a sentence with 100% comprehension from just 2 words in it, that leads to some interesting potentials on the VERY optimal top side.
250 words per page [wpp]/22 average sentence length [asl]=11.36 sentences per page [spp].
60 (sec/min) divided by 250 (average wpm)=0.24 sec to read 1 word on average.
0.24 (average wpsecond) x 2 (2 words to get 100% comprehension of a sentence in the scanning-chunking method) is 0.48 seconds to read a sentence. 0.48 x 11.36 sentences per page=5.45 seconds to read a 250 word page with 100% comprehension.
60 (sec/min) divided by 5.45 (time it takes to read 250 words with 100% comp. using S-C method)=11.01 pages per minute.
11.01 x 250 (average page length)=2752.5 wpm reading speed.
Seems astronomical doesn't it? Still within the realm of possiblity (savants, world champtions etc.) But you ain't seen nothing yet.
Brainwave entrainment can triple reading speed based on attention amplification and memory boosting. I'm trying to find a study I read where they showed reading speeds triple on average; it's driving me nuts that I can't seem to snag it.
2752.5 x 3=8257.5 wpm
This is also pretty damned impressive and is STILL hypothetically at 100% comprehension. It's also still within the realms of possiblity for the same reasons as above.
The average speed boost for removing subvocalization from your words is 3-5 times (as I said this CAN hurt comprehension depending on what you're reading and for what purpose, but we're just crunching numbers for pocket books here so let's assume leisure and go on the low end). Just as an aside, I knew a guy who was born deaf and NEVER in his life subvocalized and he always read at around 1,500 wpm with 100% comp. regardless of what he was reading. Take from that anecdote what you will.
8257.5 x 3=24,772.5 wpm with let's say a possible diminished comp. of 67% (like Anne Jones up there).
That would then equal a 100% comprehension speed of 16,597.5 wpm
Now even if you sucked hard at all of these methodologies, or they didn't synergize as effectively as my (admittedly suppositional) maths point out and were only even TEN PERCENT as effective, that would still give you a 100% comprehension rate a little north of 1659 wpm. That is STILL retardedly fast and amazingly effective.
Way out there? Definitely. A LOT of hypotheticals? For sure. Fun as hell to calculate and now attempt? You better believe it!
Sidenote: I didn't factor in some limitations here; limitations of eye movement speeds (but based on the mechanisms of the methods this shouldn't factor in at all), limitations of page flipping speeds (irrelevent if you're reading a .pdf but I digress), and how adding in memorizing elements and mnemonics will cut your speed AT LEAST in half if you try to use them while reading even with 100% comprehension. _________________
I like the fact that it's just taking a bunch of "easy to learn and apply" skills and melding them in a synergistic fashion.
As to becoming super brilliant with this method; for anyone reading, know that having 100% comprehension makes it likely that you'll take away a good deal of what you read as memory as well. Possibly not verbatim as in outright memorization, or anything like that, but you'll be able to give anyone an extremely educated explanation about anything you read and likely be able to recall exactly where you got certain data from in order to reference it for more specificity.
They say in their career that the average PhD reads 40 textbooks (this is HUGELY overstated, while you might HAVE 40 textbooks, you'll NEVER read them all cover to cover) and 700 relevent scientific articles over the course of 7 years to grant them mastery of their field and defend their thesis.
Adding in some more math (I love maths), this list of techniques could allow someone to have PhD level knowledge (More than enough to challenge courses from acredited universities and maybe rapidly get a degree or fifteen ) in no time.
For example, my bio textbooks are on the very outside of textbook size and insanity; they are huge, 1,300 page monstrosities with an average of 800 words per page. Using the methods outlined above, at the low end, that means you could read 2 pages per minute, that is have the bloody book read in 12.5 hours. Stretch it out over a book a week even and you could have your 40 textbooks read in a year in your spare time. And that's only if you dealt with my back-destroying monster texts, most texts are significantly smaller and would require far less time.
700 articles comes from a sci-article a day for almost 2 years. The average scientific article is 5,000 words. Low end of methods and you're looking at an article in 3 minutes. You could do 100 a day in your spare time and be done in a week.
Combine that with some memory methods to aid in retaining and compartmentalizing the data, and you'd be set. And that's at the low end projection I outlined above. _________________
Use Free online speed reading software | Spreeder.com!! It really works with a lot of practice. I am struggling with trying to silence subvocalization so I can read faster for the SATs. Haha I know...so silly.
Hope this helps:
Speed reading is the art of silencing subvocalization. Most readers have an average reading speed of 200 wpm, which is about as fast as they can read a passage out loud. This is no coincidence. It is their inner voice that paces through the text that keeps them from achieving higher reading speeds. They can only read as fast as they can speak because that's the way they were taught to read, through reading systems like Hooked on Phonics.
However, it is entirely possible to read at a much greater speed, with much better reading comprehension, through silencing this inner voice. The solution is simple - absorb reading material faster than that inner voice can keep up.
In the real world, this is achieved through methods like reading passages using a finger to point your way. You read through a page of text by following your finger line by line at a speed faster than you can normally read. This works because the eye is very good at tracking movement. Even if at this point full reading comprehension is lost, it's exactly this method of training that will allow you to read faster.
With the aid of software like Spreeder, it's much easier to achieve this same result with much less effort. Load a passage of text (like this one), and the software will pace through the text at a predefined speed that you can adjust as your reading comprehension increases.
To train to read faster, you must first find your base rate. Your base rate is the speed that you can read a passage of text with full comprehension. We've defaulted to 300 wpm, showing one word at a time, which is about the average that works best for our users. Now, read that passage using spreeder at that base rate.
After you've finished, double that speed by going to the Settings and changing the Words Per Minute value. Reread the passage. You shouldn't expect to understand everything - in fact, more likely than not you'll only catch a couple words here and there. If you have high comprehension, that probably means that you need to set your base rate higher and rerun this test again. You should be straining to keep up with the speed of the words flashing by. This speed should be faster than your inner voice can "read".
Now, reread the passage again at your base rate. It should feel a lot slower (if not, try running the speed test again). Now try moving up to a little past your base rate (for example, 400 wpm), and see how much you can comprehend at that speed.
That's basically it - constantly read passages at a rate faster than you can keep up, and keep pushing the edge of what you're capable of. You'll find that when you drop down to lower speeds, you'll be able to pick up much more than you would have thought possible.
One other setting that's worth mentioning in this introduction is the chunk size, which is the number of words that are flashed at each interval on the screen. When you read aloud, you can only say one word at a time. This limit does not apply to reading - with practice, you can read multiple words at a time once your inner voice subsides. As your reading speed increases, this is the best way to achieve reading speeds of 1000+ wpm. Start small with 2 word chunk sizes, but as you increase you'll find that 3, 4, or even higher chunk sizes are possible. _________________ Sono caldo. Mi piace donna!
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