WISH you could read faster? The BYU Writing Center offers weekly speed-reading classes to students. Instructor Benjamin D. Bascom (BA ’09) taught speed-reading at the center for three years and reads about 750 words per minute—three times an average person’s speed. Here are the recent grad’s tips on getting started.
Q: What is speed-reading?
A: Speed-reading involves rethinking how your eye moves across the page. Looking at and mentally enunciating every word as you read only slows you down. Speed-reading allows you to gather information at a glance; it will train you to gather more information in a shorter amount of time.
Q: What are the basic principles behind speed-reading?
A: Posture: Sit up straight in a chair and have your feet on the floor. Hold the book in your dominant hand at a 45-degree angle. Read in adequate lighting.
Preview: Flip through the book to get familiar with its genre, character names, and places.
Pacing: Use a Readmate, metronome, or loud clock—anything that provides a consistent beat—to push your reading. Train yourself to read one line for every beat. Move your free hand across the page as you read to help keep you on pace.
Periodically map: After reading for five minutes, stop and write down all the things you can remember from your reading.
Practice: Go through the previous four steps in 20-minute sessions, three times a week. Push yourself to read faster and faster as you get more experienced. Eventually you won’t even need to use a metronome or your hand to move your eye along the page.
Q: Does speed-reading sacrifice comprehension?
A: Yes and no. You miss details because you don’t focus on every word, but you do get the overall picture of what you’re reading much quicker. This may enable you to make connections you may have missed had you read the book slower.
Q: Does speed-reading take away the enjoyment of reading?
A: It’s the ideas behind reading that are interesting. Speed-reading helps you get those ideas quicker, so it may actually enhance your enjoyment while reading.