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There is little relationship between rate of read and comprehension
Research shows that there is little relationship between reading rate and comprehension.
Some people read rapidly and comprehend well, others read slowly and comprehend
badly. There is some reason to believe that the factors producing slow reading are also
involved in lowered comprehension.
In checking of thousands of individuals taking reading training, it has been found in
most cases that an increase in rate has been paralleled by an increase in comprehension,
and that where rate has gone down, comprehension has also decreased. Although there is at
present little statistical evidence, it seems that plodding word-by-word analyze (or word
reading) inhibits understanding.
Whether you have good comprehension depends on whether you can extract and retain the
important ideas of reading, not on how fast you read. If you can do this, you can
also increase speed reading. If you "clutch up" when trying to read fast or skim
and worry about comprehension, it will drop because the mind is occupied with your
fears and you are not paying attention to the ideas that you are reading.
If you concentrate on the purpose of reading (locating main ideas, and the
details, and force yourself to stick to the task of finding them quickly) your
speed and comprehension should increase. Your concern should be not with how fast you can
get through a chapter, but with how quickly you can locate the facts and ideas that you
Most adults are able to increase their rate of reading considerably and rather quickly
without lowering comprehension. These same individuals seldom show an increase in
comprehension when they reduce their rate. In other cases, comprehension is actually
better at higher rates of speed. Such results, of software, are heavily dependent upon the
method used to gain the increased rate. Simply reading more rapidly without actual
improvement in basic reading habits usually results in lowered comprehension.
Comprehension during speed reading is in many ways easier than during standard
reading. Firstly, the mind is busy looking for meaning, not rereading words and
sentences. The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually
Rereading interrupts the flow of comprehension and slows down the process.
The second advantage is that, on the logical level, you use the knowledge of the
subject to fill in needed information by looking at one or two paragraphs. Meanwhile, on
the visual level, you absorb up to a page of information and process it. This stimulates
many areas of the brain.
Scan the chapter first. Identify the sections to which the author devotes the most
amount of space. If there are lots of diagrams for a particular concept, then that must
also be an important concept. If you're really pressed for time, skip the sections to
which the least amount of space is devoted.
Read the first sentence of every paragraph more carefully than the rest of the
Take notes on headings and the first sentence of each paragraph before reading the
chapter itself. Then, close the book and ask yourself what you now know about the subject
that you didn't know before you started.
Focus on nouns and main propositions in each sentence. Look for the noun-verb
combinations, and focus the mind on these.
Basic advice about reading
Reading may not be the skill that you want to improve in the immediate future. You may
think that you read in usual life anyway, so you don't need to spend extra time on
it. Another worry is that you may not be able to tell whether you have become a better
reader or not after some time of learning. You
will find that it is not impossible to evaluate the progress you have made in reading.
Also, you may get a surprise bonus: both writing and speaking facilities could have improved,
Tips: Preview Speed Reading strategy
Write down keywords of what you know already to help you to later eliminate
what you don't need to read.
Get an overview of the content by going through the text quickly, looking
at paragraph headings, chapter headings, illustrations, covers, contents page,
index etc. Imagine that you're starting with a bare skeleton, and through each
step you are slowly padding it out with skin and muscles. Each step will help
you to make more informed decisions.