my eyeballs are doing weird things

I think i’ve overdone the speed reading testing (opens in a new window) but it was fun. I’m clocking their top speed of 3,500 words a minute (edit: it’s been upped to 5,000 wpm) and learned a lot about how i read. I read a a paragraph at once, sometimes more, depending on how big the paragraph is.

It’s in degrees of depth – the line i’m actually reading is me checking i know what’s being said. In front of the line i’m ‘reading’, my brain is already assembling the probable meaning of the next half a page. It’s why i usually spot a typo at a hundred paces, because i instantly see a wrong shape, my brain says, huh? And bam, i’m on it.

Naturally, this skill is one that’s damn handy for the web, for looking things up, (i can skim much faster than i can read, looking for keywords in a Google page). I can see when the pages i do look at are copies of each other – the shapes match. That’s  so common on the web, rehashed info on site after site.

There’s a button you can take from the Eyercize site, put on your Mozilla toolbar (i don’t know how it works in IE, am using Firefox) and hey presto -you can read any text you can mark with your mouse, then test yourself.

My keys to reading fast are

  • don’t read every word – most writing is predictable – with a little brain-training, you can predict what words will come next.
  • the more you read, the better your spelling, grammar, and syntax become when you write, the faster your reading becomes – yes, it’s slow at first, but everything that’s worth doing has at least a slight learning curve.
  • learn to enjoy words – find something you want to read. Do it for your kids and friends too.
  • it doesn’t matter how you read, if you’re comfy with it – i personally don’t like reading books or longer articles on a screen – others like Kindle and other online text readers.
  • do a speed reading course – i’m a natural, 99% of people aren’t.

Life isn’t going to get less complicated – the next generations will have to process incredible amounts of the written word every day- or become the illiterate and disenfranchised. Already, about 20% of adults in Western countries are considered illiterate – they can’t read a road sign.

It was 760 words to that last paragraph in the original draft, then it occurred to me – The guy at Eyercize said

  • The average American reads at about 180-240 wpm which is the wall for people that sub-vocalize and/or read one word at the time.
  • 400wpm is considered fast, less than 10% read at that speed or faster.
  • less than 1% read at 800wpm or faster.
    Btw, this is all with 75-85% comprehension and recall.

So, I reasoned, the average American would take (at average average speed of 210wpm) over 3 and a half minutes to read to there. Nobody can concentrate for that long any more! Me, it takes a few seconds.

See why speed reading is good? It gives you precious time.

I edited this post down to 523 in total. LOL. Maybe some of you will actually finish it now.


About stinginthetail

On Twitter as @stinginthetail. I write as Lee Abrey. Free copy of my top-rated book Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon at View all posts by stinginthetail

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