Exam revision – wouldn’t it be great if you could read quicker, and then remember more of what you’ve read? The secret is a form of speed-reading developed by eight times World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brien – use it to rip through those textbooks, reports, articles, or anything you need to remember quickly!
We live in an age of information. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to read every word in every piece of media presented to us, especially if you’re revising for an impending exam or deadline.
The good news is that we don’t need to read every single word on a page to understand its content. In fact, by focusing on key words, you can comprehend and store the information just as efficiently as you would if you read the text word for word, thus speeding up your reading. So, you could say that speed reading is a speed memorization technique.
How to Speed Read
The average reading speed is a little more than 200 words per minute for the average student with varying rates of comprehension. However, this speed can be increased – in excess of 1,000 words per minute with practice – by following these inextricably linked keys of speed reading:
Use a pointer. Although it may seem unnatural to begin with, using some form of pointer, such as a pen or your finger, helps the eye glide smoothly along the line. This allows you to develop a continuous rhythm, without distraction. Read a whole passage – or a short article – without breaking off, reading each sentence only once and taking in only the essentials.
If you give your full attention, you will not need to back-track: minor words need not detain you. Keep up a smooth, steady pace, and try increasing the speed with which you move the pointer.
EXERCISE: Speed Reading
This exercise lets you experiment with the technique of speed reading. First you need to calculate your existing reading speed, then monitor yourself as you work at improving it.
1 Take any piece of continuous prose in a book, magazine or newspaper and read, in your usual way, as much text as would fill one page in this book – about 250 words. Use a stopwatch to time yourself; or ask a friend to keep time for you in seconds and indicate to them as soon as you reach the end of your passage. Then calculate your reading speed using this formula:
(Total words read ÷ Time taken in seconds) x 60 = Words per minute
2 Check your level of comprehension by jotting down in your notebook the main points you have absorbed from your reading, including all facts and examples. Or get your friend to ask you comprehension questions. Satisfy yourself that you have absorbed the essentials of the passage.
3 Take another passage of similar length and similar density of content. This time, apply the speed reading principles described opposite.
4 Calculate your new reading speed using the formula above. Check your comprehension as before. Compare your second result with your first.
5 Experiment with different speeds of reading on different passages until you find a workable balance of speed and comprehension.
You’ll soon find that you can read more, and remember more of what you read, in less time!
You can use Dominic’s simple and ingenious memory system to remember lists of information – perfect for exams, or even the shopping list!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could remember more? In How to Pass Exams by Dominic O’Brien – eight-times winner of the World Memory Championship – offers us tried and tested strategies and tips that will make your memory bigger, better and sharper, and pass your exams with flying colours!