Speedy Reading One Chunk at a Time

Chapter 75 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

THE ABILITY TO READ FAST is made up of lots of little skills. You can use as many or as few of those skills as you want. The more of those individual skills you use, the faster you'll be able to read. Add all the skills together, and sure, it's dramatic. But who needs dramatics? A small improvement is cool enough.

Of course, when you learn to read faster, you can read more. But there's another benefit that's not so obvious: Reading will become more interesting. You find the same difference between hearing a lecturer who speaks too slowly versus one who speaks at a comfortable but lively pace. It's more interesting. It's more fun. It keeps you awake. And by reading faster, you're making the process more challenging in a controlled way. And a challenge that is under your control is enjoyable.

Below are three basic techniques for increasing your speed. Pick one and try it in the spirit of fun. When you've got that one going pretty well, come back and add another one. After awhile, you'll have increased your speed...and probably your comprehension too (studies show speed alone can increase your comprehension).

Here are the techniques:

  1. Don't let your eyes regress. Keep them moving forward. They will have a tendency to go back a few words occasionally. That continual little movement backwards adds up. If you stop doing it, your speed will increase a little. Studies indicate that rereading words like that doesn't increase comprehension anyway.
  2. Constantly practice "picking up speed" as you read. Reading is a skill, and like any other skill, the constant effort to do it a little better keeps you getting better and better at it as time goes on.
  3. Take in more words at a time. If you normally see two words at a time when you read, your eyes look at two words, move to the next two and stop to look at those, move to the next two, etc. Begin taking in three words at a time so your eyes make fewer stops, increasing your speed. Increase your challenge only as your skill increases. Keep it fun. Don't push yourself so hard it becomes stressful.


WHEN YOU FIRST practice a technique, you'll be conscious of using it and that may very well distract you a little from comprehending what you're reading. But keep practicing and the technique will become automatic, no longer requiring your conscious attention, allowing you to put your full attention on the content of the written material. At that point, you will have gained an increase in reading skill to enjoy for the rest of your life.

To read faster and increase your comprehension:
Don't let your eyes regress, practice picking up speed, and take in more words at a time.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 9). Speedy Reading One Chunk at a Time, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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