I’ve spent the past two days reading different how-to articles about speed reading, the history of speed reading, and trying out different software and programs for speed reading. Here is what I think is noteworthy, and what I have used.
A nice little encouraging piece on speed reading available from Lifehacker.
The book I was given by a friend is part of the ‘Teach Yourself‘ series. It clearly lays out a lot of the logic behind speed reading and the processes involved. It provides a lot of useful tips, and outline strategies to help with reading comprehension, and remembering what one has just read. I don’t think I could get through the book and all of it’s recommendations in this one week. Sure, I could read it all, but to do all the exercises and the practice recommended in the book requires more time than I have in a week. That being said, the book provides a lot of useful information and I do plan to at least read it all this week, then will revisit the exercises that seem most useful for addressing my problem areas. I also like that the book encourages taking intentional steps to improve one’s vocabulary while learning to speed read. Seems like an obvious step, that I have not seen any other resource explicitly state.
For speed reading software and applications, there tend to be three different formats for practicing: single word flashing, word clustering (also called word chunking), and scrolling highlighted passages. Each has its own benefits, and it’s worth taking a minute to check each out and see if you have a preference. I’ve rotated between all three for my exercises, and have found a bit of variation in my reading speeds between them.
For web-based software, I am primarily using Read Speeder. It provides an option to sign up for a free account using an e-mail address. Once that has been set-up, the website will keep track of how many words have been read in the exercises each day, and the WPM rate for each lesson. I really like this because I can see my progress and get some positive reinforcement.
Spreeder seems to be the most referenced free speed reading practice site. It’s easy to use, but to figure out what your words per minute rate is you have to just play around with different speeds until you find a sweet spot between where you can keep up and read the text, and where you cannot. It’s nice because you are pushing what you think your limit is every time you increase the speed, but it is hard to get an exact score for where you are. Granted, Spreeder is a teaser for a full speed reading software program, 7 Speed Reading Software, so of course the options provided are limited. I will stick to the free resources though because I am on a budget.
Finally, I checked out a few apps available through the Apple App Store (not sure if they are also available for Android). I tried out the top two (free) speed reading Apps (Acceleread and QuickRdrLite), of the two, I preferred Acceleread. The app design is nicer, and it provides more options for practicing, and even offers a ‘guided course’ option. It also provides comprehension questions after each passage in the guided course. Acceleread also has a pretty sizable list of classic novels available to choose between for the speed reading exercises.