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Speed Reading: 7 Habits of Ineffective Readers

I’ve been teaching in Malaysia and 7 other countries for 21 years. Many of the people enrolling for my speed reading course have some wrong reading habits that prevent them from improving reading speed, comprehension and retention of what they read. What the most common ones?

7 Bad Reading Habits

1. No Definite Purpose for Reading

You need to have a specific purpose for reading and what you want to get out of it. Failing to do that will reduce your concentration, reading speed and comprehension. Decide before-hand if you are reading for details of just for a surface knowledge.

2. Unconducive Reading Conditions

A bed is not meant for reading. If you tried reading on a bed, you will feel sleepy and find it hard to pay attention. Other things that could distract your reading are uncomfortable room temperature, people moving about or sound. It’s ideal to find a neat, quiet spot to settle down to do your reading.

3. Re-reading what has been read.

Re-reading or “regression” slows you down by at least 30%. One of the ways to rid yourself of this habit is to use your finger to guide your eyes and across the page without going back but only moving forward.

4. Hearing the words in your head as you read

We speak at on average at about 120 words per minute. By reading aloud or whispering as you read can slow you down tremendously. This is known as vocalization and hearing the words in your head is “sub-vocalization” and has a similar effect of keeping you from reading faster.

5. Constant speed for all reading

You have to vary your speed for reading different kinds of material. You can read the newspaper much faster than a book on quantum physics. Reading can be compared to driving. Just like we do not drive at one speed on all roads and also slow down at sharp bends and speed-breakers, we can go slow on technical details and faster on easier, more obvious parts.

6. Reading without getting an overview

If you get an overview of the main ideas before actually reading, you will understand better. By using preview techniques like skimming and scanning, your brain will be better prepared to absorb and remember more.

7. Reading one word at a time

By reading one word on each eye movement, your reading speed will be limited. If you see and pick up more than one word per eye fixation, you will be able to read two or even three times without compromise understanding.

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