3 Steps to Read Faster – Truth on Speed Reading


This video is sponsored by Audible. Wouldn’t school be so much easier if you
could get through all those tedious reading assignments three times faster? Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to dive
into a good piece of fiction and blast through it in less than a day? Let’s talk speed reading. What’s going on guys! Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. If you’ve already looked into speed reading,
you are probably aware that there are two camps of thought. One group of people say speed reading is a
magic cure-all, everything you ever dreamed of, and more. The other group says speed reading is baloney
and doesn’t actually work. As with most things in life, the truth is
somewhere in the middle. In approaching speed reading, the first question
you have to ask yourself is “what is the reason I want to read faster?” If you want to go through novels or read for
pleasure quicker, that requires one approach. If you want to read through textbooks or research
articles and understand hard science quicker, that requires a different approach. Before we jump into the techniques, however,
it’s critical that we first understand the process of reading to have it work in our
favor. What is reading? Reading is the processing of text to understand
the intended meaning of the piece of writing. Therefore, in order to successfully read,
it requires more than just recognizing a series of words, but also understanding the relationships
among them and the unstated implications involved in the described situation. Contrast this with skimming, which is the
quick consumption of text to get a general idea, at the cost of comprehension. Speed reading attempts to maintain skim-like
reading speeds with reading-like comprehension. This wouldn’t be a Med School Insiders video
without getting into the science. The average educated adult reads at approximately
200-400 word per minute. Speed readers claim to read thousands of words
per minute. In order to do so, they rely on peripheral
vision. Acuity is highest in the fovea, which is the
center of your visual field, approximately 1° in any direction. This amounts to approximately the width of
your thumb held out at arm’s length. The parafovea has moderate acuity at 1-5°
from the center, and the periphery is greater than 5° from the center of vision. The bad news is that it is biologically and
physiologically speaking, it is impossible to recognize and interpret text in one’s
peripheral vision. Try reading by staring at one word and complehending
the sorounding words in your peripheral vision. It’s not gonna work! Try looking at a stationary object, like this
line. Try to smoothly move your eyes from one side
of the line to the other. It’s actually physically impossible. Your eyes will move in multiple smaller jerky
movements called saccades. Saccades are quick eye movements that occur
while reading, allowing the reader to fixate the fovea on a word. I initially thought that speed readers employ
smooth pursuit. This is when your eyes fixate on a moving
object and can follow it smoothly, like tracking a target. As you watch this circle moving from one side
of the screen to the other, your eyes can actually smoothly persue it without those
jerky saccades movements. However, I learned that the reason speed readers
use their finger is less about smooth pursuit and more about keeping a metronomic guide
to maintain a rapid pace of reading. Saccades allow the fovea to fixate on the
next word. Each fixation lasts approximately 250 milliseconds,
but this is highly variable based on the legibility of the text, difficulty, and task goals, such
as proofreading versus reading for comprehension or skimming. However, not every word is fixated on. For example, the word “the” is skipped
about half the time. Just because a word is skipped does not mean
that it was not processed at all. Because each reader is unique in terms of
the timing and sequence of words that he or she needs to look at, speed reading technologies
like rapid serial visual processing (RSVP) are not effective. These technologies attempt to present each
word in the center of the visual field in a rapid progression, eliminating the need
for eye movements. Taking into account the aforementioned individual
variations, the physiology of visual processing, and the way we comprehend language, I would
argue that RSVP is a terribly ineffective method to consume text. Another problem with RSVP is that it does
not allow for regressions. Regressions are brief looks backward in text
to return to an earlier word. This is important in correcting errors in
comprehension. By eliminating the possibility of regressions,
RSVP further reduces comprehension. Now, reading and processing language is much
more complex than most realize. Take this stroop task. Try naming the color of the text of each of
this words. Not too bad, right? How about this column? Maybe you’re marginally slower but that still
wasn’t too bad. How about now? It takes much longer to correctly name the
color when the word describing the color is miss-matched to the color of the text. Let’s talk about subvocalization. Many proponents of speed reading claim that
subvocalization, which is using the inner speech in your head while reading, will slow
you down. A series of studies examined the effects of
eliminating or minimizing subvocalization using a variety of techniques. Findings consistently demonstrated decreased
comprehension. Given that all writing systems represent words
and given that the primary form of language is vocal and not visual, it makes sense that
phonological processing is an important part of reading and comprehension. So what does this all mean? Visual perception occurs rapidly. However, linguistic processing is the bottleneck
in reading. Multiple studies support the fact that language
processing, rather than the ability to control eye movements, is the primary determinant
of reading speed. Reading is limited by our ability to identify
and understand words rather than our ability to see them. That means reading faster leads to reduced
comprehension. Now that we’ve clarified the science behind
reading and speed reading, let’s figure out how to actually read faster. The central idea in reading faster is that
one does not need to read the same way for every reading goal. Some suggest to simply practice reading more
as a way to improve one’s speed and comprehension. While it does help, it’s a very slow and
gradual process, not causing any drastic improvements. To more drastically improve speed, we have
to reduce comprehension. To increase comprehension, we have to read
slower. There is no way around that. However, our job then becomes how to optimize
the balance between reading comprehension and reading speed. How can we reduce comprehension minimally
while increasing speed maximally? Here are the techniques I have found most
useful over the years: First, determine the type of reading you will perform and what
your goal is. You do not need to maximize comprehension
for every reading task. Are you reading a piece of non-fiction for
pleasure? Are you proof reading an essay for a friend? Are you reading a textbook for class? Deliberately approaching reading with a goal
in mind will help you determine the minimum level of comprehension required and therefore
the maximum speed achievable. Second, remember to be flexible with your
speed. While reading, there will be segments of text
that are easy for you. The language is simple, you understand the
concepts, and you’re easily able to fly through it. You don’t have to stop on every word and
understand it deeply. Other sections will introduce new words or
concepts and you will have to slow down to make sense of it. Understand that this will happen frequently,
and you must be flexible with your reading speed to optimize your speed/comprehension
balance. The first and last sentences of a paragraph
are often most important, so focus on those if you’re unsure about the importance of
the paragraph. This is very similar to Cal Newport Pseudo-skimming
techniques Next, use a pacer, like your finger or a pen. Run your pacer below each line from end to
end, and have your eyes follow along. This will instantly increase your reading
speed while with minimized comprehension loss. The key is finding the sweet spot where you
are only minimizing comprehension loss, but are pushing the limits of your comfort zone. For example, if you reduce comprehension by
10% but gain 50% in speed, that’s not a bad tradeoff in my opinion. As above, there will be sections where you
want to move your pacer faster and other sections where you will want to move slower. Now, let’s talk about SPECIFIC TYPES OF READING. For Textbooks, they often have large sections
of superfluous text. Don’t be afraid to skip these paragraphs
or even entire sections. Focus on bolded words and sections that contain
key information, and slow down on the surrounding text that adds additional context. Another cool tip is Pre-reading sections by
thumbing through the chapter and looking at section headings and bolded terms will prime
you know what is important. It may take a minute or two at the beginning,
but overall you should safe time if executed properly. Mtyt favourite tip for textbooks is, after
I read a section or a page, I’ll stop and summarize what I learned. I will do this out-loud to myself or with
a friend or by writing a few bullet points. This drastically improves retention. On to Books for Pleasure. If reading for pleasure, you can do whatever
you want. If you want to enjoy the nuances of the author’s
language, then slow down. However, if you want to get the gist and the
overall story, it’s not a problem to have your comprehension drop substantially. This very much depends on the book. For some books I slow down and read every
book, and for others I skip sections. Most books fall somewhere in the middle. And lastly lets talk about Research Articles. When reading research articles, which you
will have to do plenty of as a pre-med, med student, and resident, approach them systematically. Read the abstract slowly and carefully, but
then determine what is important to have a greater understanding of and focus you time
and energy there. I often read the abstract, quickly go through
some of the introduction paragraphs, skim the methods and results sections to get just
a brief high yield points, and then spend more time in the conclusion. Another option is to skip reading all together
and opt for Audio Books. My go to service is Audible. The great thing about Audible and listening
to books rather than reading them is that you can free up so much more time to actually
consume the book. Ultimately, that’s what speed reading is all
about, being able to consume more books or the same number of books but much more rapidly. I can listen in the morning while making and
eating breakfast, I can listen while driving or riding my bike, I can listen while stretching
or even during a workout. I recently listened to Aziz Ansari Modern
Romance. The best part was that it was narrated by
Aziz her self, which makes for a tremendous entertaining and enjoyable listening experience. Audible includes an unmatched selection of
audio books, original audio shows, news, comedy and more from the leading audio book publishers,
broadcasters and entertainers and more. Go to Audible.com/MedSchoolInsiders or text
MedSchoolInsiders to 500-500 to get an exclusive 30 day free trial and a book of your choice
for free. Thank you all so much for watching. If you enjoyed the video, make sure you press
that like button. Hit subscribe if you have not already and
I will see you guys in that next one.

100 thoughts on “3 Steps to Read Faster – Truth on Speed Reading”

  1. I like the video audio book good practice but if you'll avoid reading I think you'll loss the ability of speaking!

  2. Saying something is not possible is not proof. A lot of these denunciations are straw man arguments showing a lack of understanding of speed reading techniques. At least he got some of the terms right.

  3. You have covered up so much misconceptions from other videos about speed reading, I find the most important part is using a pacer. Great video, got to the point, with scientific evidence!

  4. One factor that I’ve personally found vitally important for reading comprehension is focused attention. I can read at 200 wpm, but if I’m distracted my comprehension and recall will be nil—whereas, when I’m focused I can up that to 400-500 wpm and have excellent recall/comprehension. Note: focused attention is mentally taxing, so taking breaks (pomodero technique) is also important!

  5. I'm skeptical. On one hand, I understand the science and how it's impossible to read thousands of words per minute. But the sales pitch for audible – a way to enjoy a book faster without speed reading – just doesn't sell. Busting speed reading "myths" and then a sales pitch for audible. You're better off scrapping this video, and redoing it with the angle that reading faster leads to less retention and comprehension, and a solution to getting a book done while still getting laundry done, making breakfast, and working out is audible. You did the sales pitch all wrong, my man.

  6. I wouldn't prefer listening to something when you were eating. When you eat, you eat. When you listen, you listen. By the way nice video.

  7. Speed reading works for you if you use the methods that match your situation eg prefered sensory mode, level of training in speed reading and other relevant factors! "Triple Your Reading Speed: The Proven Self-Study Plan" by Wade E. Cutler

  8. I don't want to know more about speed reading, because I read with enough speed. The speed reading videos are not for me, thank you

  9. Would it be ok to use audible in the car.
    Because your focus would be on the road and on driving and I wonder
    I how much it would decrease comprehension to assume if it’s worth listening to?

  10. Best summary of the current research that I've seen on YouTube. If you're confused by the competing claims on speed reading, you can trust this guy. Great work!

  11. When you started drawing the snow flakes, I suddenly fixated on that and immediately phased out everything you said after. 😂

    I had to rewind back to the point when you first started drawing the snowflake and refocus on your words. 😂

  12. Tbh, i comprehend better if someone speaks faster ( like your video at 2x or 1.5x speed) or i read faster by vocally reading the words faster. Otherwise i lose attention.

    But i lose mental energy faster this way….. This video at 2x is just a little mentally draining and 1.5x is the sweet spot.

  13. Well this is just bs. I learned to speed read and i actually remember better what i have read that way. Maybe it is just something other people can do but this guy cant?

  14. Some books, ex) Japanese business books are designed with good structures and titles, so it’s possible to read half and guess half, to READ VERY FAST. Normally the concept is new to the reader, as that’s the value of the book, but it’s still so much easier to read than textbook or lecture slides. I think this presentation is still to general.

  15. This is useful when I buy a book and a few chapters in I decide its not that great, then speed read the rest with just enough compensation to understand what’s happening. Thanks for the tips 🤗

  16. thanks for clarifying
    i have been trying peripheral reading which I found impossible. another other technique would reduce my comprehension. so i can go from 400-1000 so i agree its the purpose that matter.

  17. Don't try to listening to audio books while working out. You will not be able to focus on one of these, reducing your results (and you might build muscle imbalances, where let's say one shoulder is larger than the other) while also not getting much out of the book. But listening to audiobooks while doing task that don't require focus (washing dishes, making your sandwich for the next day,…) is good.

  18. How can we know if a topic in a chapter is superfluous and not important so that we could confidently skip them according to 7:58? Thanks.

  19. I just read slow 🤣. Bc I choose to. I like to take notes as well. If I read fast I feel like, “what did I read 😳

  20. i can choose, i can read fast but forget fast. or i can read word by word, and remember those for a least through the next day

  21. It's interesting that you believe that comprehension and speed cant be increased at the same time, cause I recently came across an online course that claims to increase your reading speed while maintaining even improving comprehension. Now I haven't tried it but the course has good reviews. Here's the link
    https://www.becomeasuperlearner.com/courses/become-a-superlearner-masterclass

  22. Wow! Thank you for this! Defining a goal for each book is something I have never considered but can see how it would work. I am not a med student but my schooling does require a lot of research paper readings and I appreciate now being able to go through and determine how to evaluate what the goals are and how to adjust my reading approach to match. Thank you once again for this video. -Hanna

  23. I'm reading for pleasure, yeah, but I also want to minimize the time I'm spending on it. I don't know how to do that! Your video was great, but it couldn't help me. My speed is like reading 26 pages in 50 minutes. It doesn't fit in my everyday schedule :))

  24. 1 Determinite the goal of your reading
    2 Change your speed moment constantly
    Focus on the first and last senteces of paragraph (psedue skimming)
    3 move your finger to push you out of your comfort zone

  25. This was extremely helpful for my endeavor to learn and retain more information. I hope to put out quality content like this

  26. My friend thought I am really smart and think faster, but the truth is I'm really fast reader so I can answer the question quickly. If the question is told (like listening test), I'm pretty sure my speed of answer is similar like anyone else.

  27. Fantastic, I recently took a speed reading course but struggled maintaining comprehension for complex text. Thinking something was wrong with me, I went back to my original process of focussing on key words, line summaries and allowing regressions.

    There is so much great advice here – particularly balancing fundamental trade off between 'speed and comprehension', I've learnt the hard way this is true. Well narrated and thank you.

  28. How to make a good video:
    step 1: teach how to read fast
    step 2: get the video to be sponsored by an audiobook service
    step 3: hope that nobody notices that hypocrisy

  29. One question: how to read faster and comprehend better a law text? banking, taxation, business regulation or EU Directive?

  30. When I speed read, I process one paragraph at a time. Get the topic sentence then look for support if needed then move on. Rinse and repeat. 😳

  31. A video of how to read faster sponsored by a company who comercialice audiobooks wtf man jajajaja

  32. I want to read faster so that I can finish all the books on my tbr and finally buy new ones as soon as possible. There's a new Avatar novel The Rise of Kyoshi that got published yesterday T_T and my sister won't let me buy it yet cause I have other unread books 🙁

  33. Thank you very much for the subvocalisation bit. Every time I removed subvocalisation my speed was pretty decent, but my comprehension was abysmal. With focused attention and subvocalising at a faster rate than normal (due to the "don't subvocalise" type of people), I can read pretty decently, though, to be honest, still below average (209 wpm for me). I hope that will improve with focused attention, some degree of peripheral vision use, and an increase in subvocalisation speed.

  34. I have a MacBook and for those who do I use the voice over to read my online nursing books. Then while reading at whatever speed you’re comfortable with I highlight the important sections of the paragraph.

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