How to increase your reading speed?

Are you struggling with reading and comprehending texts fast? Not being able to read fast enough can affect your work and studies. It can happen to the best of us when we cut ourselves from the habit of reading texts. However, with a few tricks and practice, you can get back on track and improve your reading skills effectively.


Improving your reading involves breaking down your old habits and building new ones so that you can read faster and understand better. At CogniRead, we believe – What can’t be measured – Can’t be improved. Use our Chrome Extension to measure your reading skill and ascend to the next level.

Here are the top 6 proven techniques to improve your reading speed.

Avoid Vocalizing

Vocalizing refers to the act of voicing the words while reading. It helps our mind access the meanings of the words that are often associated with how they sound. This method is taught to all of us as kids. Its purpose is to make the children pronounce words correctly, but after learning to pronounce them, you don’t need that method anymore.


Many researchers claim that vocalizing while reading the text slows you down. The main logic of this claim is that speaking limits your reading speed to the speed of speech, and you cannot go beyond that as long as you’re vocalizing every word. There are disagreements among scientists about whether vocalizing can be totally eliminated or not, but most of them agree that it can be minimized, and that would increase the speed of a person’s reading skills.


An average person reads 250-300 wpm[1], and it’s the same word count for speaking. If you want to read faster, you need to get past this speed, and for that, you need to read text with more speed than your speech.


So if you speak words while reading, stop doing it from this part of the article.

Stop Subvocalizing

Even if you stop vocalizing [2] the word, most probably you’re still giving it a voice in your head. It’s a common practice for a lot of people while reading, but it does not really pace up the speed of your reading because you’re still reading at the speed of speech. Going through the mental processes of generating speech, but not actually triggering speech muscles or uttering sounds.


Now it’s not so easy to turn off this voice in your head but try looking at this paragraph without reading them in your mind.

Reading isn’t even about words but rather about extracting ideas, absorbing information, and getting details. Words by themselves don’t mean much unless they’re surrounded by other words.



Do you read the ‘STOP’ sign every time you see it, or do you just stop? An even simpler example is that you don’t pronounce the numbers like 83, 5, and 63 every time you see them. The same should be with your words.


Now, if you’ve not been able to read the paragraph correctly without the voice in your head, try playing music or chewing something to distract your brain from producing the sound in your head.


Ed felt reached, after failed attempts trying to reduce silent speech in study participants in 1952, came to the conclusion that silent speech is a developmental activity that reinforces learning and should not be disrupted during the development of a child. In 1960, Ed felt also published research that supported this opinion.

Read multiple words together.

Now the next step is to train your brain to read words collectively. It’s easier when the phrases are familiar to you, but it’s a little tricky if you come across a text that has vocabulary and sentences that you’re not familiar with.

From this point in this article, try reading several words together and check if you can still read effectively while making sense of it.


On a paper, try drawing two parallel vertical lines to divide the text into three columns. Now while reading, try to chuck the words in one column together and read them at one. Once you do that, you’ll realize you’re able to move on to the next set of words quickly hence improving your speed overall.


To read fast, you need to train your vision to look at more than one word at a time. Try keeping your book or screen at a distance from your eyes, so it covers more space.


In any language, there are many words that are present in a sentence to only support its grammar and style. For example, let’s say you’re reading some text that says, “The boy jumped over the fence.” To minimize sub-vocalization, you might just say in your head, “Boy jumped fence,” three words rather than six words in that sentence. They’re harmless to skip while reading a sentence, it increases your speed, and you can grasp the information from the text quickly.

Do not reread

If you notice a person’s eyes while reading, you’ll find that eyes often go back and forth in the same sentence. It is a precautionary habit to revisit the word in order to make sure that you’ve read it correctly, which mostly is just a waste of time because you’ve already read it correctly. As a skilled reader, you should’ve confidence that the words you’ve read were correct, and it doesn’t make sense to check the words until you can understand the sentence as a whole.


French ophthalmologist Louis Emile Javal[3] reported that eyes do not move continuously along a line of text, but make short, rapid movements intermingled with short stops. Javal’s observations were characterized by a reliance on naked-eye observation of eye movements in the absence of technology.


These studies showed that eyes flutter with very quick movement while reading. The kinds of movements may vary in different individuals, but a lot of it is useless and just tires off your eyes. Because reading requires keeping your eyelids open for a longer time than usual, your eyes start to flutter.


It is suggested to use your finger/cursors in order to keep your eyes from fluttering back and forth. Regular readings also use an opaque scale or paper strip to cover the sentence other than the one they’re reading. This is said to help those who are starting to increase their reading speed.


Train your eyes

The eyes are where the process of reading starts. Hence it becomes important to train your eyes to read fast.

Sereno & Rayner (2003) believed that the best current approach to discover immediate signs of word recognition is through recordings of eye movement and event-related potential.


Such experiments have been going on since the mid-18th century to study the behaviour of the eyes while reading. Older technology involved mechanical eye-tracking devices which had physical contact with the participant’s eyes to study its movement.


A video-based eye-tracker that uses video cameras to record the eye position of participants —recording pupil dilation and eye movement—can be used to track your eyes’ movements making it easier for you to get feedback on your reading skills.


Tracy Duwed, a reading expert, says, “You should always fix your gaze in the middle of the page and move your peripheral vision towards the beginning and end of the line to read fast. However, if the pages are wider, just begin by fixing your gaze an inch away from the first word instead of looking at the first word of the sentence. Doing this for long enough will help you develop a continuous habit of practicing your eyes.”


Regular eyes-related exercises [4] help you with improving your performance, and they’ve other health benefits too.

Use your finger/cursors

Often when we see a large number of words on the page, it’s normal for our eyes to wander around to the next line without completing it. We’re not only talking about missing a line while reading but the subtle peeking to the next or previous sentence without reading them. This tires your eyeballs and makes focusing hard for you.


Our eyes take stress when we do not use our finger/cursors to guide them; therefore, why not allow them to use their finger/cursors when they read? finger/cursors work as a marking signal for our eyes.


As readers grow and find that they can read fast enough without having to move their finger/cursors, they drop this habit. However, we’re not always ready to read just with our eyes. When one sits down to read, it’s beneficial to start reading with your finger/cursor and drop it once you’re engaged in the content.


Using your finger/cursors to guide your eyeballs for reading is a very good way to train you to read smoothly without losing focus. If you’re reading on a computer, you can simply use your pointer to read.

Use a measurement tool

Going by the saying – “What can’t be measured – Can’t be improved” it is vitally important to analyze and grade any learning endeavor to be able to improve the same. That is why continuous monitoring, analysis and reporting of your reading habits is important.


Most of the tools available today use a timer to calculate the length of your reading sessions and note the number of words you read to arrive at an average speed. They also generate a block of auto generated unique content for you to read. Little more about current available tools/ Methods for measuring attention & comprehension with less or no emphasis on calculating reading speed.


CogniRead, however, uses an AI driven scientific methodology to track your eye movements and measures much more than just reading speed. It generates actionable feedback on your reading sessions.


We use AI to accurately predict your learnings based on eye movements. Eye Tracking is done through cameras embedded in smartphones and computers, and processed with ML as digital indicators of cognitive activity.