Speed Reading


The average 9th grader reads 200 words per minute with a 45% comprehension level (National Scholastic Board Testing). This is about 100 words per minute slower and a 30% lower comprehension level than when this testing began in the 1950’s. Much of the drop is due to lack of educational emphasis in general. Some is the pathetic job schools are doing in the teaching of reading. If your student of Junior High or older age is a reluctant reader, try some speed reading techniques. The student who successfully completes the average speed reading course will read at a rate of 3000 words per minute. Many times, the uninterested reader finds the various “games” used in speed reading techniques to be of interest and in the process, picks up a better reading habit. The reader who is having difficulty because of hindrances like fixation or regression should not be ruled out as a candidate for speed reading, nor should the student who may have learning problems. Studies show that speed reading has a beneficial effect on some learning problems.  Fixation, a common reading problem, is stopping too long on certain words. Some students do this because of poor vocabulary; teachers admonish students to slow down and sound out words. This is necessary in the elementary level, and isn’t a bad idea as long as it doesn’t become the habit. Regression, the practice of going back over sentences already read, is usually harder to break. But if a student becomes interested in the acceleration of the games which increase reading speed, he quickly breaks the regression habit. Two of my favorite resources for easy skills in speed reading are Rapid Reading with a Purpose by Ben Johnson, and Mastering Speed Reading by Norman Maberly. Both of these are older books but the basic techniques of speed reading are the same now as then: Pacing, grouping of words and paragraphs, questioning as you go (for comprehension), and setting a reading span are the primary objectives. Look for these in the chapter title of any book you may be considering.