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February 25, 2015 - Posted to Study
I am a speed reader. Like a lot of people, I used to believe that it was all hype, and that people who sold speed reading programs were just scammers. God knows, we have all probably wasted money on stuff that we thought would get us better grades. I cannot even count how many apps I have purchased in the last three years that have turned out to be duds; and then, there was the “Learn Spanish in 30 Days” online course that was a total bust! Ii also spend money buying “miracle” stuff advertised on TV – weight loss pills, a home method for permanently removing unwanted hair – most all of them don’t ever work like they show them on the screen! So, when a friend said she was going to take a speed reading course, I laughed (I’m finally becoming a bit more discerning). And she was buying the course online – double fail!! I want back to my faithful method of reading my textbooks, just like I had always done.
I asked my friend several times how her speed reading course was coming along, and she was always pretty positive about it – probably didn’t want to admit to me that she had wasted money, I figured. Finally, one day she told me that her reading speed was up to 500 words a minute, and that speed still allowed her to understand and remember everything she was reading. This was too much. Seriously? So, I set up a little competition. Since we were both in the same history, class, we decided to read the same section of the assigned chapter together. It was about 6 pages long of pretty small print. We sat together and read. She finished when I was about halfway through it, and waited for me to finish. Okay, now the real truth was about to be discovered. Just reading fast was not the point. The point was how much could she remember? I began to quiz her about the content – she remembered all of the main points! I was sold on the program and bought it for myself.
What Speed Reading Means for Me
It is not a “miracle cure,” to be sure, and it does require some work. Basically, each lesson in the program introduces a strategy, and then it is up to the student to master that strategy before moving on. I also learned a lot about eye movement and the eye-brain connection – it does make sense. But more important, speed reading is literally the best thing I have done for myself in so many ways:
- I am now reading at about 500 words a minute, just like my friend. This cuts my reading time in half, and, when I finish reading a section or a chapter, I then get on my computer and type up all of the main points so that I can review for exams. Far more, with the help of this special technique, I've used to write my essay even faster than I did before. Before, I took notes as I read, and it was really a slow process.
- I have read studies that show good comprehension levels of students who speed read, but I don’t need those studies – I am living proof!
- Another thing I have found is this: when I speed read, I am really focused on the material. This was not the case with my old method, because dry textbook content bored me, and my mind wandered all over the place. Then, I would have to re-read what I had just read all over again – really a waste of time.
- The biggest benefit? Much less stress! When I was still “locked” into my slow reading, it was really hard to keep up with all of the course assignments. I mean, really, every professor thinks his or her class is the only one you are taking, and the assignments just pour in like you have nothing else to do. Multiply that by 5, and you have the normal student course load each semester. And it’s not just reading assignments, of course. It’s the research papers! By cutting my reading time in half, I have also cut my stress level in half. I can zip through reading materials, type up my notes (I do bless my high school for forcing me to take keyboarding!), and be on to the next assignment.
Is Speed Reading for Everyone?
I think it is, of course. But anyone considering this must remember, it does involve practice and persistence. And, because the practice should first be on simple content, you cannot use any of the strategies on coursework reading until they are mastered. I tried it – it’s frustrating!
I keep thinking that, if some TV commercial for speed reading had been on when I was back in high school, I probably would have bought the program then. Think of all the time I wasted during those years!