Speed and comprehension can be improved for every reader—even the most skilled reader can be more efficient. Myths about efficient reading include only reading materials once, reading every word, not skipping passages, and believing that a faster
rate means less comprehension. Reading
materials once and not skipping passages are not a part of efficient reading
techniques. And research shows that a
faster rate does not necessarily mean less
comprehension if the materials are read
Evaluate your current reading habits
by answering the questions in the Personal Reading Evaluation in the sidebar.
Refer to your answers as you apply these
strategies to your reading to see if any
of your reading habits are a deterrent to
The average reading speed is 200-250
words per minute (wpm). The above average reading speed increases to 250-350
words per minute (wpm). As you work
through these steps, strive to develop
your reading skills to meet the 250-350
words per minute (wpm) benchmark.
How can you keep pace with the flood
of printed material that daily challenges
you in school? Each textbook and related information seems to be a priority.
You have perhaps tried reading some of
these publications more quickly only to
discover you understood less. You possi-
bly eliminated information and realized
later you were uninformed in an impor-
tant area. These are time-saving strate-
gies, but not efficient reading techniques.
Efficient reading is being able to quick-
ly select the techniques you need in or-
der to read a specific selection and focus
on your reason for reading it. Pre-read-
ing allows you to build up background
knowledge and select what to read. This
technique involves a survey/overview
through skimming and scanning.
Looking at the whole text allows you to
consider the questions “What is this text
about?” and “What is likely to be covered?” Skimming allows you to pass over
by Annie Laura Smith
Your reading speed and comprehension
will improve if you understand the
structure of the material first.