It takes four to six hours to read an averaged sized book. Time none of us have in this information overload age. “Triple Your Reading Speed” by Wade E. Cutler, makes a big promise. Does it deliver?
The Cutler Accelerated Method has been taught since the seventies. In tests people have seen improvements in comprehension and reading speed. The method has been improved over the years, but it is still recognized as one of the best speed reading courses available today.
What Is Reading Speed
If you’re a slow reader then reading can be very frustrating and downright boring. It’s what prevents many of us from even attempting to read let alone complete reading a book. Comprehension also improves when we learn to read faster since our minds have less time to be distracted by other things. My reading speed is pretty bad at around 180 wpm. Most people can read between 200 to 300 words per minute (wpm). Most of us vocalize words as we read them, and this is what constrains average reading speeds to around 200 wpm – the speed at which we read words aloud. Most speed reading courses work at breaking this vocalization habit. Speeds of 1000 wpm and more are achievable with speed reading.
Is Speed Reading A Scam?
Some researchers believe that speed reading is impossible since our visual span when reading only takes in 8 or 10 characters at a time. True, there are a lot of scam speed reading courses out there, but the researchers did not take into account that we can train our peripheral vision (the blur outside your area of focus) to take in more characters. Also, as previously mentioned stopping the vocalization in our mind as we read also increases reading speed.
How To Speed Read
After reading the book it soon become apparent that speed reading is a skill that must be implemented as a daily habit over time. The brain needs to be trained to break very deep and ingrained reading habits. You cannot learn speed reading overnight. I found my brain being taxed in new ways by the exercises in Cutler’s book, to the extent that I had to stop reading his book. My brain became completely overloaded and had trouble adapting to the new way of interpreting information. For this reason, Cutler recommends doing the exercises regularly but in shorter bursts.
Speed Reading Exercises
Learning to stop vocalizing words is key to speed reading. Unfortunately, most of us were taught in school to “sound out the words” as we read. It’s a difficult habit to break. To get around this, speed reading exercises are designed to distract our habitual vocalization. Try the following speed reading tips (not all from Cutler’s book) to distract your auditory brain when reading out aloud.
- Play some very vocal music in background (try country and western). This helps force our brains to use visual reading while the vocal center is preoccupied with listening to the music.
- Count from 1 to 3 or say the words “dolphin, lizard, reindeer, walrus” over and over as you read.
- Hold your breath or hold your tongue, lips or voice box when reading.
- Read a book upside down.
The hardest exercises I found in the book where the exercises that train our peripheral vision to take in multiple words at once. It taxed my brain. I need to gradually train my brain daily with the exercises Cutler provides.
Free Speed Reading Courses
A good free resource is Kris Madden’s speed reading site. When he was 18 Kris could only read between 75-100 wpm with about 50-65% comprehension. Through practicing his own method, Kris can now read 500-1000 wpm (depending on the material) with 75-90% comprehension.
Speed Reading Software
Kris uses and recommends Spreeder. Spreeder is a free online speed reading program designed to improve your reading speed and comprehension. They also have a product called 7 speed reading (not free) which graphs and tracks your progress while your learn to speed read.
My Next Action
Clearly speed reading is not something I will be able to achieve overnight. It will require a lot of patience to train my brain with the drills in the book. My next action is to do the speed reading exercises as a daily practice.
This is Day 1 in my Apply 7 Books To Your Life In 7 Days Challenge.
What is your next action?