Speed Reading Techniques: Reading Groups of Words

When you where in 5 years old or younger, you were probably reading letter by letter to give you a reading rate of about 50 WPM. As time progressed you began reading word-by-word to increase your reading speed to between 150-250 WPM.

In this stage of the course, you will realize that one of the best ways to increase your speed reading is to read more than one word at a time. This is done by reading and looking at words as a group. As you are reading, your eyes take about a quarter of a second to visually refocus on each set of words you are looking at. This quarter of a second might not sound like a lot but think about the number of words your eyes need to focus on while reading and multiply that by a quarter of a second. As you can see you will be wasting a lot of time if you need to focus on each word separately. Hence, in this chapter you will learn some techniques to help you focus on several words at a time.

With a basic idea of your current reading speed, it is time to eliminate some of the factors that are currently slowing down your reading speed. One of first factors that efficient readers should be focusing on eliminating is word-by-word reading. You must focus on seeing many words at one time rather than focusing on each word independently.

Understanding your Visual Area

As humans we have the ability to see things that we are not focused on. For example, while you are reading this book you still can use your peripheral vision to see objects around you. For example, even though your vision may be focused on the words you are reading, you can still see the words around it. This peripheral vision does have limits; the area which your vision begins to fade away is your blind spot. For example, drivers are focused on the road in front of them but can also see to the side of them; however, they are unable to see behind them without the use of mirrors.

In this section of the guide, you must begin to see words in groups.

The field of vision of a person differs from person to person. On one hand, some people have a wider range of focus. On the other hand, some people have a very short range of focus. Follow the rules listed below to find your field of focus:

  1. Look at each of sentences in the following groups.
  2. If you need to move your eyes to see the entire sentence, that group does not represent your field of focus.
  3. If you are most comfortable with the first group, your range is about 2-3 normal sized words
  4. If you are most comfortable with the second group, your range is about 4-5 words.
  5. If you are most comfortable with the third group, your range is about 6-8 words.

After finding out your range, you have to practice reading on that range. That means you have to be looking at 3 words simultaneously while reading if you are in the first group or 4 words if you or in the second group or 7 words if you are in the third group. As you keep practicing your range can increase. It has been proven to strengthen your peripheral vision. For the meantime, try to remember what your field of range is because you will be using it through out this guide. In the next section, you will be using your range of view in addition to another speed reading technique that will help you to read much faster.

Exercise #1

Group One
Humanity takes
Itself too seriously.
It is the world's
original sin. If
the cave-man
had known how
to laugh, History
would have
been different.

Group Two
But beauty, real beauty,
ends where an intellectual
expression begins. Intellect
is in itself a mode of
exaggeration, and destroys
the harmony of any face

Group Three
The only way to get rid of a temptation
is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul
grows sick with longing for the things
it has forbidden to itself, with desire
for what its monstrous laws have made
monstrous and unlawful ...

* All of the quotes are from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde