The Science of Reading

Before you proceed to mastering speed reading, you must first understand the way you read. Reading is a complex skill. Different people have different ways on how they make sense of letters and how they are put together. It is not true that you need both of your eyes to be focused on a specific letter within a word. Each eye can actually focus on different letters simultaneously, normally two characters away from each other. Your brain puts these images together and constructs the word. This process happens in an instant, so a reader can actually zip through many different texts at a given time.

There are many different categories of reading and these affect how fast a person reads. Before you get to speed reading, you have to understand that every person is wired differently based on how they were taught as well as other influences surrounding them. Typically, people learn to read when they begin school and they are commonly taught to do so word by word. Word by word reading causes the eyes to be fixated on only one word, sometimes the previous one, taking the reader back a step in reading and comprehension. This mechanical form of reading is rather slow, but this is the most common way through which people read and comprehend. Not everyone is informed that there is a more efficient way.

When you think about how much time is spent just looking at several words and concepts, reading may seem like a tedious and very mechanical process. There isfixation – basically staring at a word or a couple of words which usually takes a quarter of a second. Then one’s eye will move to another word or set of words, the process is called saccade, and it takes a tenth of a second. Then the reader repeats the cycle and pauses about half a second to comprehend what he or she just read. These mechanical processes put together become the reason why an average person can read about only 200 to 250 words a minute.

The different types of reading are:

  • A Mental reading
  • A Auditory reading
  • A Visual reading.

Mental reading is also known as sub-vocalization. It is a way of reading where one sounds out every word internally, much similar to saying something to yourself. Mental reading is the slowest type of reading. Readers who practice mental reading can read to about 250 words a minute.Auditory reading is a bit faster, as it requires the person to listen to every word that is read and not sound them out. Those who practice this usually read 450 words a minute.The fastest type is visual reading. Instead of sounding out the words or hearing them, the reader comprehends what the word means by sight, making them read an average of 700 words a minute. Speed reading via visual reading is a skill you can master as you continually practice and train.Now, speed reading can be very handy and valuable. However, it is safe to say that there are instances when using speed reading is not a good idea. There are reading materials that you should never speed read. You must know when and how to adapt a reading technique according to the material on hand.

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