Everyone knows how it feels to read a book so good you just can’t put it down–you savor every single word on the page and can recall quotes from the passages by heart. We also know how it feels to read a dry, boring textbook and realize that all of a sudden, you’ve “read” 6 more pages and don’t even recall what it was about.

There’s just one thing that’s different from those two reading scenarios, and that’s enthusiasm. Enthusiasm drives our interest, allows us to focus and absorb more of what we read– leading to the ability to read faster and remember more of the content! It can be hard to be enthusiastic about reading a lot of (often boring) text, which generally takes more time, mental stress and unfocused notes on the subject. This is why we’ve found 4 strategies to change and improve the way you read and recall information. 

The Science of Speed Reading

Here are 4 strategies so you can learn how to speed read:

1. Scan for Key Words

Instead of sounding out the letter combinations we put together to make words and reading them all individually, focus on how your eyes move across the page. Focusing on what your eye is seeing will help increase your reading speed. Basically, we want you to scan the content first until your eyes catch on a word or subject that interests you.

We have been taught since day one to read every single word in a sentence and paragraph, but this process is so lengthy and taxing! We really only need to read nouns and adjectives to understand the main idea of a sentence; verbs, adverbs and other parts of speech are usually unnecessary when you’re just trying to get the basic, most important information. This tip can be hard to get used to, but you’ll be doing it all the time once you’ve got it down! Highlighting these key words and phrases is also a great idea for reviewing the text.

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2. Skip Ahead

Just read the first and last sentences of a paragraph first. This can save you a lot of time if the first sentence of a paragraph introduces a topic that you already know. You then know not to waste your time reading the paragraph in its entirety and and can move on to the next paragraph.

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3. Make it Relatable

Our brain stores every single thing we read, we just don’t know it’s there because most of it goes to our subconscious. Because of this, it can be hard to recall a topic or interesting fact that you’ve read previously. To better retrieve it, we recommend that you relate what you read to something you already know, like a personal experience.

Examples:

  • When learning about forensic science, you could relate what you learn to a Criminal Minds episode that scared you, or the time you accidentally found some old animal bones on a hiking trip.
  • Back in 5th grade, everything we learned was transformed into an acronym based on what the topic was about, and to be honest, many of these acronyms have followed me into my adult life. Specifically, my 5th grade Science teacher taught us to remember the formula for density (Mass Divided by Volume Equals Density) as Mr. Dutton Vomits Every Day. I realize that this may have not been the best or healthiest example to teach a bunch of fifth graders, but it’s been 11 years and I still know how to calculate density!

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4. Take Notes

There’s a condition known as hyperthymestic syndrome that allows those affected to remember absolutely everything they read, see or hear. Unfortunately, it’s an extremely rare condition, so the majority of people out there need some help remembering what we read– and for that, we write! Once you finish reading, we recommend that you go back and take some notes from the keywords and topics you highlighted previously. Including a short summary of the most important information you found– you can review this days or years down the line and be able to recall what the book or passage was about!

We hope these 4 easy tips will increase your enthusiasm for reading and learning! We also hope that now, everything you read will be as fascinating as your favorite book, and that you’ll get more from those academic textbooks you’ve always dreaded.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

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