- Investor Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest people, reads 500 pages a day. Elon Musk grew up reading 10 hours and an average of two books daily.
- Speed reading, however, is not a skill limited to the ultra-rich. It’s a skill that can and does benefit anyone, no matter their background.
- Online courses are some of the easiest ways to learn speed reading online in a quick and efficient manner.
There are many ways to learn speed reading online. The most popular methods are speed reading courses, speed reading apps, and various free speed reading resources.
These resources offer different benefits for different people. For instance, if you’re a beginner who wants to read faster with consistent comprehension of what you’re reading, then the best resource is an online course that teaches everything from improving your vision all the way to advanced memorization techniques.
A good speed reading course will also be chronological – you will improve step by step without getting overwhelmed by the learning process.
That said, it is also possible to learn speed reading without monetary investment by using free options such as YouTube, speed reading apps, and speed reading websites. In today’s article, we will look at the steps you need to take to increase your WPM and text comprehension using online resources:
How to Master Speed Reading
Find your starting speed
An average adult reads at a speed of approximately 250 words per minute (WPM). Whether you are below or above average does not really matter. What matters is that you CAN become a faster reader. But, before you start improving your reading speed, you need to measure how fast of a reader you currently are.
There are several ways to calculate your reading speed base rate. You can choose to do this by using an online speed reading test. Or, you can choose to calculate your WPM manually by using a reading speed calculation formula. You can find the aforementioned formula on this site.
But, why does it even matter how fast I currently read?
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” – This quote from Peter Drucker (the inventor of modern business management) is very relevant to speed reading. You need to keep a constant track of your WPM to see whether your learning methodology is working out or not. Lest you might feel as if you are making progress when you really aren’t.
As a bonus, tracking your speed reading progress is like a carrot on a stick. Seeing your reading speed improve will keep you motivated for daily practice.
Pick a practice book
In addition to measuring your starting speed, there is something else you should do before starting with the practical exercises.
You should pick one book that you will read by only using the speed reading techniques.
Notice that I advised you to pick a practice book not an article or a random text. The reason for this is that you will find it much easier to measure your comprehension by reading a single book with speed reading techniques.
The other reason is that practicing with a book will save you valuable time. Decisions take time. And, during the time you decide on what texts to use for practicing speed reading could be spent on actually practicing the techniques. And, after all, speed reading is all about saving time, not losing it.
As far as genres are concerned, it doesn’t really matter what you read as long as it is not too wordy or heavy.
If you are going for non-fiction, I would advise steering clear of books that are too full of facts and technical information. Instead, try something more light such as a self-help book or an entertaining autobiography.
Of course, you can use speed reading techniques to read heavy, scientific books as well. But, there are specific techniques for reading technical information. Save the harder stuff for when you are already comfortable with reading and comprehending information at an above-average pace.
If you want to choose a fiction book for practice, follow the same logic. Steer clear of heavily philosophic classics such as books from Dostoevsky or Steinbeck. Instead, choose something easy-to-read and entertaining like a good romance novel or a crime novel.
Choose your learning format
There are several ways of learning how to speed reading online. Let’s examine some of the best options available:
The benefits of learning speed reading with an online course are plentiful – the main one being that you get all the relevant techniques, exercises, and theories from one place.
But, which course to choose?
There are several great online speed reading courses available, both paid and free. But, as of 2021, one course stands out from the pack – that class is “Super Reading” by Jim Kwik and Mindvalley.
Jim Kwik is the world’s foremost expert on speed reading. During his career, he has taught speed reading to various celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs, and productivity hackers.
Kwik’s online class is a collection of the speed reading and learning techniques he has taught for the past three decades. The class has one significant advantage over its competitors – Kwik emphasizes comprehension, focus, and memory as much as pure reading pace. This results in a class that virtually guarantees improvements in your learning capabilities.
That being said, “Super Reading” is not for everyone. After all, it is a comprehensive class that takes 21 days (8,5 hours of content) to finish in full.
My suggestion here would be to try the free Jim Kwik Masterclass (also on Mindvalley) before going for the full class. It will give you a free sample of Kwik’s speed reading methodologies and teaching style. If you like the content of the Masterclass, you will get even more from the full class.
Needless to say, Kwik’s class is not the only good speed reading class available. If you are interested in going through some other options, feel free to read the E-Student curated list of the best speed reading courses of 2021.
An obvious place to look for advice on how to read books faster is – books! If you prefer to follow a book rather than an online course, here are two books we recommend that can help you read faster:
- Speed Reading: Learn to Read a 200+ Page Book in 1 Hour by Kam Knight
- Proven Speed Reading Techniques by John R Torrance
YouTube has several expert-led videos on speed reading. While using YouTube as a resource for learning speed reading is not quite as efficient as an online course, the platform has some obvious perks.
The main benefit of using YouTube for learning how to speed read is obvious – YouTube is entirely free. You can increase your WPM and become a better learner without any monetary investments.
That being said, YouTube videos lack structure. You are going to have to go through several videos and test out the techniques to see which ones benefit your specific reading goals.
The following are some of the YouTube speed reading resources worth checking out:
- YouTube channel of Jim Kwik – When it comes to speed reading, there is simply no escaping Mr. Kwik. His official YouTube channel is full of videos on speed reading, study techniques, and stress management. A solid channel for anyone interested in not only speed reading, but elevating his general mental performance as well.
- “How to Speed Read” by Tim Ferriss – A 10-minute speed reading tutorial from Tim Ferris, an investor, author, and one of the most famous productivity coaches in the world.
- “How to Read a Book a Day” by Jordan Harry – An engaging TEDx talk on speed reading from Jordan Harry, CEO of StudyFast.
- “How to Speed Read For Free” by Howard Berg – An interview with the world’s fastest reader (certified by Guinness Book of World Records). The video is full of bite-sized tips that can show immediate increases in reading speed.
- “How to Speed Read” by Ali Abdaal – 5 quick speed reading tips from Ali Abdaal. Abdaal is a renowned YouTuber, podcaster, doctor, and productivity enthusiast.
Speed reading apps
These days, you can find an app for nearly everything. Speed reading is not an exception. Would I advise using a speed reading app instead of learning about the techniques yourself? Well, it depends.
Put simply, if you want to acquire speed reading skills that will last you a lifetime, I would not advise relying solely on a speed reading app.
The big drawback of speed reading apps is obvious – without your device, you are on your own. And, as great as e-reading is, not every text has found its way from paper to digital.
However, if you have individual materials you need to go through fast, a speed-reading app can be like an immediate crutch. You can start reading a bit faster immediately. No need to go through the process of completing an online course or practicing elaborate speed reading techniques.
If you want to give speed reading apps a try, have a look at some of the speed reading apps recommended by E-student:
- Reedy (Android) – An app that uses the Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) system for speed reading. In this methodology of reading, individual words appear one at a time in very quick succession. You will read faster with this method, this much is for sure. However, when it comes to comprehension, the scientific consensus remains a bit controversial. The only way to truly know whether the RSVP method works for you is to try the app out.
- Read Me! (iOS, Android) – A speed reading app that uses the RSVP method and the BeeLine Reader method. In the BeeLine Reader method, parts of the text are color-coded for improved reading speeds.
- Readsy – A browser-based speed reading tool. Enter the URL of the website you want to speed read. If you have the text on your device, you can also upload the text file for speed reading.
Immerse yourself in your chosen learning format
It takes consistent practice to become an efficient speed reader. You can’t expect to read at double or triple your current speed overnight. This is also why it is so crucial to pick a practice book that you actually enjoy.
It will make your daily speed reading practice (I suggest at least 10 minutes of daily practice) an enjoyable part of the day that you look forward to. An enjoyable book will also make it so much easier to tolerate getting used to new methods of reading.
Whatever resource you choose for learning speed reading, avoid rushing! Get used to one single method of speed reading before trying to boost your WPM even further with additional techniques.
As a little sneak peek of what new speed readers can expect, let’s also look at 2 methods that are taught in nearly every online speed reading resource.
When you were first learning how to read, you did so by carefully spelling out each letter or word.
Subconsciously, this habit stays with us as we become efficient readers – even as adults, we repeat everything we read. The difference is that the repetition takes place in our heads. This kind of inner monologue is called subvocalization.
Many speed reading resources claim that eliminating all subvocalization is the key to reading faster. In truth, there is more to reading fast than just stopping subvocalizing. Plus, it is nearly impossible to get rid of all subvocalization.
Instead of outright elimination, make it your goal to minimize subvocalization.
Optimizing your subvocalization will take practice. At first, it will be slightly uncomfortable. You might even feel as if you completely stop comprehending what you read. Don’t worry, this will pass with some time and practice.
Use a Visual Pacer
Whenever you naturally read, your eyes waste a lot of effort by darting around between different words and lines.
The solution to this is simple – start using a visual pacer. Since your eyes are naturally drawn to motion, a visual pacer will help keep your eyes fixated on the text you read. This kind of eye movement is also called smooth pursuit eye movement.
Smooth pursuit eye movement will eliminate all random eye fixation. Thus, your WPM will also improve.
Any pointy object will be a suitable visual pacer, but using a finger is probably the most foolproof method there is.
As with many other speed reading techniques, using a finger to trace the text will feel counterproductive and unnatural at first. Just stick with the practice. Soon enough, it will feel more unnatural to read WITHOUT a visual pacer.
Test Your Text Comprehension
Measuring your WPM is easy.
But, as you learn and practice speed reading, you should habitually measure your text comprehension as well. After all, speed reading is worthless if you do not absorb any of the text you read.
To measure your text comprehension, I advise you to occasionally test yourself.
Use the speed reading techniques you know and read a pre-selected section from your practice book.
After you finish reading, test yourself by summarizing what you just read in written form.
If you chose fiction for your practice, write a short plot summary of what you read. If you chose non-fiction, write a summary with the key ideas or facts from the book.
After writing the summaries down, compare them with the original text. Did you get the gist of the text? Did you remember some of the key facts from the non-fiction text? Did you manage to follow the important plot turns in the fiction book?
If so, you are proficient in using your current methods and can probably further improve your WPM by adding more speed reading techniques to your arsenal.
If you lost the text immediately after reading, it does not mean that speed reading won’t work for you. You just need to backtrack a little. In all likelihood, you probably stacked up too many techniques together without first becoming proficient in any single one.