How to Read Faster and Comprehend More (900WPM) | Austin Schrock | Skillshare

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How to Read Faster and Comprehend More (900WPM)

teacher avatar Austin Schrock, Building a better brain

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Lesson 2 - Prepare


    • 3.

      Lesson 3 - Don't get too comfortable


    • 4.

      Lesson 4 - Remove subvocalization


    • 5.

      Lesson 5 - Expand visual abilities


    • 6.

      Lesson 6 - Use a pointer


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About This Class

In a few short minutes, you'll get 5 quick tips for how to increase your reading speed and actually comprehend more. This class is fast-paced but thorough, it may be helpful to rewatch sections if needed. 

We will cover how to prepare our minds to read so we comprehend more. Reading is like a race, you can't just jump right in and expect to be limbered up. Take a few minutes to prepare before speed reading. As the class goes on, we will use three main strategies to accelerate our speeds. Here are the 5 tips we cover in this class. 

1. Do some mental stretches. Let your mind settle down before diving in. It will save you frustration and you'll get more out of the experience.

2. Don't get too comfortable. When we speed read, we need to focus. This isn't a casual stroll in the park. When we get too comfortable, we slow down, we lose focus. 

3. Don't read to yourself. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to say the words inside your mind to comprehend them. Learn this skill, and you instantly gain 200-300% in speed reading. 

4. Use your peripheral vision. Here we have exercises to teach you how to read phrases, not individual words. Reading 3 words at a time vs 9 words at a time makes a big difference. 

5. Use a pointer. Possibly the simplest and most important. Here we learn how to prevent back skipping and regressions, where most readers spend around 30% of their total reading time, actually re-reading what they've already read. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Austin Schrock

Building a better brain


Hello, I'm Austin. I consolidate what has helped me grow and improve and share it through media platforms. Most of these classes are topics covered on my YouTube channel that I wanted to provide more information on. 

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Here are five comfortable, simple, no-nonsense tips to help you read faster. 2. Lesson 2 - Prepare: Number one, do some mental stretches. Think of reading as a race. And depending on your goal, you're going to set different paces for yourself. For example, there's an enormous difference between you're just going for a walk to enjoy the nice weather, and trying to run a four-minute mile, obviously, before you try to run that fast and that far, you'd need to go through a whole I warm-up process. Need to stretch and get your muscles activated and ready to be used. And speed reading is no different. Our brains need time to kinda get up to speed. So here's how you do that. First of all, try to relax. If you're stressed out, you're gonna have a really hard time reading really fast because it takes concentration. So take a couple of deep breaths, try to forget the day is stresses. Focus on the present moment. Then you want to kind of flip through the book and get a feel for what the chapter is like. Define how far you want to read and maybe look at the headings and the chapter titles. Kinda, it just kinda familiarize yourself with the topic of what you're trying to read. And this won't take long, maybe a minute or so to kinda familiarize yourself with what you're planning on reading, think about it. If you're like most people are like five minutes ago, your brain was being pulled up all different kinds of directions by people, by notifications, by tasks and things you had to do tonight. You're trying to take all of that and that you're all that fragmentation, trying to pull it all together to focus in on one single task of reading about one topic with what the book is about. And it takes a little bit of time to do that. It doesn't just happen like that. It takes a little bit of time, a little bit of preparation to be able to do that. 3. Lesson 3 - Don't get too comfortable: Tip number two, don't get too comfortable. So when you go for a walk, you have time to chat, Daydream, send a text message, smell the roses, eat some pasta. There's all kinds of stuff you can do when you're on a walk. All those extra actions split up your attention. We just fine because walking doesn't really take much concentration. Running, however, requires that you remove all distractions. So when you're speed reading, you're constantly pushing yourself to go faster, which increases focus and build more confidence, allowing you more comprehension. This means that you're reading environment needs to be a chamber of concentration. It's like my favorite term ever. This is a place devoid of all distractions from anything that's going to pull your attention away. And it's going to prevent you from being fully focused on that. One task of reading, sitting outside is awesome. But if you're at a place where the wind is blowing the pages and you're trying to balance your highlighters on your knee and stuff. It's not a great combo for concentration. 4. Lesson 4 - Remove subvocalization: Tip number three, don't read yourself. This is called a sub vocalization, and it's when we unintentionally speak the words that we're reading to ourselves inside of our mind. This is one of the main hindrances to reading fast and also for comprehension and retention. It has two main problems. The first one is that you'll never be able to read faster than you can pronounce the words inside of your mind. This is big problem when you're trying to read faster because that means you'll cap out at about 200 to 250 words per minute, which is how fast the average adult speaks. The other problem you will run into a sub vocalization is that your brain can comprehend about 800 words per minute. And so vocalization will keep you at about two hundred and two hundred and fifty words per minute. That means that your brain is only using about 1 fourth of its concentration abilities. This is why your mind wanders when you read and why the other 34. So your brain decides to go off and try to solve quantum mechanics or something. This is also why it's so hard to listen to someone else in a conversation because while they're talking, you're filling in all the words of what you could be saying in response or like your mind is running faster than they can talk. That's why it's really hard to concentrate. When it's almost when someone's talking to you and when you're listening to a speaker and stuff, your mind will just wonder, because it's getting, it's getting bored. Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually have to hear the word inside of your mind to know what it means. This is how you can see an exit sign or a stop sign. And you just know what it means without actually saying the word, this is how we have to train ourselves to read because that barrier will really it. You'll cap out at it. You won't be able to go above it. So breaking through that is actually not terribly difficult. It just takes a little bit more concentration. And some things you can try is you can try. Some people say chewing gum will help or humming to yourself. The rhythm of these actions will help push your reading. And it will, it will prevent you from saying every word and for me it into a sound. But for me I just found that if I just focus on like concentrating on not saying the word inside of my head. It took a little bit of getting used to it took me a couple of pages to kinda get it down. But then after that it was just kinda natural like you're, you're reading and the words are just like going straight into your comprehension. And those will definitely take some getting used to you. Like, I know for myself, I first heard this and I was like, That's impossible. There's no way you can actually do that. But after I practiced it for a while, the results were actually much more than I was even expecting. 5. Lesson 5 - Expand visual abilities: Number four, use your peripheral vision if you can understand kind of the basic visual principles that we use when we read, then you'll be able to remove a lot of inefficiencies and increase your reading time and comprehension and things like that. So that's what we're going to look at next. And so a critical part of this whole process is learning to read phrases, not individual words. For example, if you read this sentence here, you'll be able to understand completely the sentence, even though you're reading half as many of the words for myself, I found that when I removed some vocalization, this process happened naturally. And so it's kinda nice because you get a little bit of a cycle going on. Like these things they stack on top of each other. And once you learn one, it helps you move into the next one of improving your reading and speeding up. And in fact, I'm guessing you actually do this already even without realizing it. Now you can begin using this to your advantage because your, your eye span is about an inch and a half as you'll see in the next final tip, which is the best one, your eye takes little snapshots of the page. And since your eye span the width of the capture that it can take us about an inch and a half. It's pretty awesome because that means that once you learn how to use this and remove some vocalization, as I said, you'll be able to read like seven to nine words at a time, which is pretty awesome. So the best way I've found to actually improve this and train this is to get a ruler and a pencil and just mark in about an inch to an inch and a half where you begin reading on the left side of the page and then mark off the exact same amount on the right side. And then that is the, that is the margins of where you start reading and you stop reading. So basically, you're allowing your eye only to move in the middle section of the sentence. And you're requiring your peripheral vision to pick up what's on the outside of those lines. And this will take a little bit of practice as well. So I don't recommend you try this on your textbooks and like really important texts. So give yourself a little bit of time to learn this and get used to it because there's a little bit of a learning curve. But if you stick with it, you will absolutely be able to master this. 6. Lesson 6 - Use a pointer: Tip number five, use a pointer. This one might be the most important out of all of them, even if you don't do any of the other ones, this will still dramatically improve your reading speed. This goes along with our previous point, but when you read, your eye doesn't move just in a straight line across the page. It actually bounces and takes little snapshots, which as we learned before, is about an inch and a half at a time. That's how much your eye can capture in each snapshot that it takes up the page. If you'd like to actually see this and feel it happening, the way you can do that or a demonstration that you can do is to close one of your eyes and place your finger on top of your eyelid. Generally, don't like mash it in there. Then what you wanna do is you want to look all the way to your left and then gradually, slowly move your eye across and just look at the room and move it across all the way to your right side. Now what you'll feel as you'll feel your eye under your eyelid, it'll it'll jerk across the room. It's hard to see with your eye that's actually opened because it feels smooth. But it's actually not. Your eyes is jumping across as taking little snapshots. And that's exactly what's happening when you're reading. Now, do the exact same thing, but this time hold your finger out on the left side and track your finger with your eye. You want to focus on the tip of your finger and do the exact same thing, move it across the room. And what you'll find is that it will dramatically, if not completely, remove all of those skips, all of those jumps that your eye does. And that's what a pointer does. It smooths the whole process up and it makes it easier for your eye to follow. And the reason we want to make this smooth ER for our AI is that it prevents something called back skipping and regressions. Back skipping and regressions is when our eye jumps to take the next snapshot of the page. But instead of going perfectly sideways, it'll sometimes jump up or jumped down or jump backwards. If you're really not paying attention, this will happen over and over and over as you read a page. And that's how you can get to the end of a paragraph. I've no idea what you read because you're I was taking snapshots of the sentences above and below what you were actually trying to read. And this gets very confusing because then you don't understand it. So then you maybe go back and try to read it again. And you just had this whole big compounding problem. In fact, Tim Ferriss says that back skipping and regressions make up to 35% of your reading time. So meaning that if you read a whole page, that means that you re-read about a third of that page, like That's wild. So even just even if you don't implement any of these other steps, if you only implement this last one, I'm using a pointer and you read just like normal. You'll improve your reading time by at least 30%, which is pretty awesome, honestly. And using a pointer actually has a couple of more benefits as well. It makes it easier for you to determine where to start reading on the page and where to end reading. That way you can let your peripheral catch on either side of where you start and stop. The other thing it will do is it'll help you increase your focus because now you're using more of your brain is requiring you to actually do a motion and an action, be conscious with it. So it kinda keeps you out of that autopilot mode where you just read and you don't really get anything. And best of all, it allows you to manually speed up your reading time. And what this means is that when you use a pointer and you move it across the page, you want to have the pointer moving and guiding your eye like slightly faster than what is comfortable. Because if you only move it at the rate you are comfortable with, eventually it'll just get slower and slower and slower and it'd be right back to where you started. So if you keep the pointer moving just a little bit out of your comfort zone just a little bit faster than normal. It'll help you to keep moving and keep improving. In fact, you should probably set a goal to do each line at about a 2.5th to a second and work up to that speed. And so I know at first I was like There's no way I can do that. That's way too fast. But as you begin to work with this and get more used to it, you'll begin to surprise yourself with what you'll be able to do. In fact, a lot of places will tell you not to even worry about comprehension at first, and to just move at that speed. To train your eye to begin moving that fast across the page is simply a practice to get your baseline speed and get your eyes used to moving that fast over the page.