A good reader is recognized by three factors: pace, comprehension and memorize. Excellence of these factors casts a positive impact on the reading process by making it more smooth, fast, enjoyable and useful. However, absence of any one of these can significantly degrade the quality of reading and therefore, anyone who wants to become a good reader needs to work on each of the three factors.
Good comprehension and good recall abilities are generally developed during our school days. The problem comes in reading speed which is ironic because a greater reading speed also makes the process of comprehension and recall, faster. Increasing the reading speed is therefore, extremely necessary to become a good reader. Easier said than done! Increasing the reading speed is not a cup of tea, it demands practice and persistence. But there are various techniques and exercises available which can help you along the way. One of the most effective exercises is “speed drilling”.
Speed drilling requires you to read the text, faster than your normal reading speed. Of course, one cannot expect proper comprehension while practicing speed drill exercises but the objective is to intentionally increase your reading speed without paying attention to comprehension. The speed drilling basically serves to make our eyes habitual of seeing the text and taking in the written words, at above normal pace. Once our eyes get trained to see faster, our brain will automatically adjust to the new speed and will start interpreting the information quickly as it arrives. With consistent practice, the comprehension will gradually become better. So a tip for beginners is that even if you do not get the meaning of words during drilling, do not worry about it, as long as you are achieving the set time targets for reading, you are good to go!
Experts recommend that a drill time of 15 minutes is ideal for beginners. Here is a step by step guide on how to practice a daily 15 minutes long, basic speed drill:
1) The first step is to measure your natural reading speed for the record. The easiest way to do this involves a stop watch and a medium difficulty level text material. Medium difficulty level text is recommended because it is the text which we encounter most often. It includes news paper, magazines and blogs etc. Just select a text to read, start the stop watch and start reading. Stop the watch after one minute and count the words you have read during this time period. This will give you your reading speed in “words per minute” (wpm).
2) Start with a familiar text. It can be a novel, a text book, a news paper or magazine article depending on what you like to read.
3) Start the timer on a stop watch and begin reading for exact 10 minutes at your normal reading speed. Make sure you do not try to increase your speed or compromise your comprehension at this stage. Note the paragraph and page number in the text where you stopped after 10 minutes.
4) Now go back to the point where you started reading at first, start the timer and try to read the same text again only this time, you have to finish reading in 6 minutes. This is the point where you have to increase your reading speed and ignore the comprehension. The objective is to skim through the text in the set time. You can take help of a finger, pen or a pointer to remain focused on the text, but it is only natural to face a little difficulty in reading at this step.
5) Once you finish reading in 6 minutes, your first speed drill has completed. Now start the second and third drills by re-reading the text again in 5 and 4 minutes respectively. Remember that your focus should be on meeting the time limit and not on the comprehension.
6) Once you have completed your 15 minutes, re-calculate your reading speed by the same procedure. Make sure that while measuring the reading speed, you are not forcing yourself to read faster. Just read at natural speed and comprehending the text well.
There are high chances that you will notice an increase in the amount of words you are reading per minute. Although, the recommended period for getting optimum results is 2 weeks, most people do make a slight improvement even after the first 15 minutes of speed drilling. But even if you do not notice any improvement in first try, do not worry, just keep practicing it for two weeks and there is no reason that your reading speed will not improve.