The short answer is YES, your reading speed will increase over time. The more you read, the faster you will be reading. Of course, your reading speed doesn’t increase forever. You will plateau.
By improving your reading technique you become a more focused reader. You can start reading for longer periods of time. You can sit down and focus a lot quicker than before. This creates better reading results.
Here’s another side effect of reading more. You learn to identify faster what the important parts of your text are. You are able to comprehend more. After some time, your reading speed will no longer increase. But, you will be able to re-read less to get the desired result. This saves you reading time and gives you the same results as speed reading.
Let’s dive in and see how your reading speed improves over time by reading more…
Reasons Your Reading Speed Will Increase Over Time
There are some reasons your reading speed will increase. I will share these with you so you know what to work on. Knowing them helps you to become a more efficient reader.
Vocabulary & Knowledge
The first reason for reading faster is an increased and improved vocabulary. The moment you find a strange or difficult word in a text, your brain stops you from reading further. You want to understand this word first, and then continue. This is normal behavior. Unusual or out-of-place things around you grab your attention. This also happens when reading.
By knowing more words, you are able to move through a text faster. There will not be too many distractions.
Another reason you become a faster reader is having more knowledge. Remember the skim reading technique? This helps you to “skip” the familiar parts. You identify what you know and you read at a (much) higher speed. This saves time. You may not be actually reading faster… but at least you are not re-reading sections. This helps you to save time when reading.
Here’s a tip that helps many people. When you start reading a (study) book, you usually have to get used to the style of the writer(s) and the jargon. Study the way writers outline their text. Get familiar with the text-specific words. Once you do that, your reading speed will increase.
By reading more, you learn to identify where important parts are on a page. For instance, the first section in a chapter tells you what you will learn. Information near a subheading or beginning of a paragraph is more important. The last lines of a section give you a summary.
Everybody has their own method of reading. You may read faster and with more focus when playing music in the background. Or you find it easier to read in a library, with a pen in hand, or by reading out loud.
You will develop your own reading strategies and reading habits. These help you read faster. I do want to give you a warning or hint… Make sure you stay flexible in your approach to reading. Don’t think you should use one approach all the time. Adapt your reading to the book and the goal you have. Be flexible, or “Be like water” as Bruce Lee said.
Focus & Goals
There is one thing that will do wonders for your reading speed and comprehension. The secret to more efficient reading is… focus! That’s right. When you read with more focus, you improve your speed and comprehension.
The best way to increase your focus is to have goals. When you set goals for yourself, you focus your mind. Imagine reading a book without having a goal, other than reading it. Do you think you will learn a lot? Now take the same book and have the goal of reading it to pass an exam. This completely changes everything!
Next time you read something, have a clear goal. Here are some goals you could have:
- Study your book to pass an exam
- Find answers to specific questions (for a paper or assignment)
- Take a deep dive into a topic to give a presentation like an expert
There are many other goals you can set for yourself. Remember this: goals give you focus. Focus increases your reading speed and comprehension.
How Much Can Reading Speed Increase?
Increasing your reading speed should not be your main goal. It is all about how much you comprehend. Increase your comprehension and you increase your reading speed. The reason for this is simple. You don’t have to re-read.
Let’s have a look at how much you can increase your reading speed. An average reading speed is about 200 words per minute (wpm). Start reading faster, improve your vocabulary, and have more knowledge. This helps you increase your average reading speed.
It is easy to increase with 50 to 100 wpm by doing this. This takes your reading speed to about 250 wpm. Now imagine you start reading with more focus and you learn some smart reading tactics. You increase your focus and you have better goals. This reduces your re-reading. You also start looking for answers to your questions. This helps you to increase your speed by another 50 to 100 wpm.
Use skim reading and variable reading speeds as well. Learn to “fly or jump” over parts that are already familiar. Skip examples if you understand what you’re reading. New ideas receive more attention. You read smart. This increases your reading speed by about 100 wpm.
Adding this up helps you to increase your reading speed from an average of 200 wpm to about 400 to 500 wpm. You double it! This does not involve difficult reading tactics or systems. You make use of focus, goals, and knowledge you already have.
How Long Does It Take To Develop Speed Reading?
Speed reading, like most people train it, is not something you can master in a few minutes or hours. It requires you to change the way you read. You have to upgrade your habits. It may take a lot of time and practice to do this.
Don’t get me started about reading with 1000+ words per minute! The only way to do this with new topics is by reducing your comprehension! Sure, you may pick up some things, but still… reduced comprehension is the only way to read this fast.
When you start improving your reading, you should look more into smart reading. This method helps you to read with more focus, and intention, and uses simple reading tactics.
This increases your reading speed to 400 to 500 words per minute. Don’t get me wrong… this helps you to read 1 to 2 pages per minute! And it won’t cripple your comprehension. In fact, comprehension will increase!
Your reading speed can increase over time. The only thing you have to do is to read more. Although reading more does increase your reading speed, don’t expect any miracles! Read with more intention, focus, and reading tactics. You will improve your speed and comprehension a lot more this way.
Remember that reading speed is nice, but reading comprehension is much more important. Doubling your comprehension helps you to save 50% of your reading time as well! After all, you have to re-read less than before.
My advice for you is to improve your focus by knowing what you want to get out of the text you read. This decreases the time you have to read. And that in turn increases the speed with which you go through the text.