Speed reading has two facets, one of which is very apparent while the other may be more obscure. Of course, one of these facets is the ability to read faster, to get through text in a shorter period of time. The other facet, however, may not be that apparent. It involves actually comprehending what is read. Both facets of speed reading must be achieved in order for the act of speed reading to be accomplished. Speed reading is completely ineffective if the material is not comprehended and absorbed. It does no good to skim through material at lightening speed if you have no idea what you have read.

There are five basic methods of speed reading. You may be surprised to learn that there is no great mystery or special skills required to be able to do this, but you do need to be able to read well. If you already have problems with reading, comprehension or vocabulary, you may even find that you have even more trouble if you attempt speed reading. Speed reading is nothing more than a few techniques that, when combined, will help you focus your attention more effectively. The five methods explained here are some of the more popular techniques. Try each of them to find the one that works best for you.

The Hand

With this method you put your hand on the page that you are reading. If you are right handed, use your right hand, if you are left handed, use your left hand. Now draw your "reading hand" slowly down the page. Do not go from side to side, move your hand straight down while you read. Your eyes may not be on the exact same section as your hand, but by doing this you will read faster. Keep all the movements, your hand and your reading, as one smooth motion. Do not stop and start, make it all one continuous motion and run your hand down each page only once before moving on to the next page.

The Card

This technique may seem a little familiar, but instead of using the card or folded piece of paper below the text, place it above the line of print so that you are unable to see the words after you have read them. Move the card down the page in a slow and even motion while trying to read the words before you cover them. This will help you break the habit of reading a passage several times because you are covering the words with the card. This means that you are forced to pay attention to the words the first time that you read them. Try moving the card down faster than you think that you can read and do this only once per page. When your card reaches the bottom of the page, turn it and move on.

The Sweep

When using this method you use your hand to lead your eyes across the page. Cup your right hand slightly and use a smooth, light motion to sweep your fingers across the page, from left to right. In other words, your fingers will underline the words as you read them. Use your entire arm to move your hand across the page. Use a sweeping motion as if dusting something off of the page. Let your hand lead your eyes across the words as you sweep and read. Move quickly and train your eyes to keep up.

The Hop

This method is much like The Sweep, but instead of sweeping your hand across the page, you "hop" it, meaning that you actually life your fingers from the page and advance it by "hopping" across the page. Cup your hand as you do with The Sweep and place your fingers under the passage that you are reading. Bounce your hand twice across the page on each line using your arm as the catalyst for motion. Do not move your wrist, this motion requires the use of the entire arm. The reasoning behind this is to make a fixation on sets of words, not just one word at a time. This also helps you keep your pace steady because it has a rhythmic motion.

The Zig-Zag or Loop

This method is not recommended for material that requires careful reading or is very involved, but it is a good method for easy reading material. It will help you get the general idea of lighter text. The way to do this method is to use your hand and instead of tracing it along each line, move it in a diagonal motion about three lines, then back to the next line, creating a zig-zag motion with your hand. The basic idea of this method is to scan the text, not see each word, which is why it is not advisable for text where in depth reading is required.

These methods can help you read faster, but like anything else you must practice your chosen method or methods. Try each method and find the one that works best for you, then practice until you can do it effortlessly. If you are good reader, you will be able to read not only faster, but better and with better comprehension.

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