To improve your reading speed for IELTS, you need to focus on speed reading. There are a number of points that you need to consider:
1. Improve your reading speed for IELTS by not stopping!
When reading, a lot of people stop and go back, reading the same words again. This is often simply a habit and one that does not necessarily help you understand any better. Spend some time reading forward only, even if you feel that you missed something or that you didn’t understand. With practice, you will find that you are spending less time reading the same words twice but can get just as good an understanding of what you are reading.
2. Use ‘chunking’ techniques to improve your reading speed for IELTS
When you read, try to focus not on individual words, but on small groups of words (about 3 or 4 words) each time your eyes move. This technique is called ‘chunking’ – looking at a chunk of words at one time. On this page, for example, your eyes should be moving a maximum of 4 times. Here is an example (your eyes should move to each different ‘block’ of text):
|This is an example||sentence to help||you practice your||speed reading techniques.|
3. Stop reading to yourself
When reading, many people actually ‘say’ the words as they read them. This might be silently or a very quiet mumble, but this slows your reading speed down. Your eyes and brain can absorb information much more quickly that your mouth and brain can form the words.
4. Use a marker to improve your reading speed for IELTS
To keep an even pace and to stop your self re-reading words (see point #1), try using a marker to keep you focussed. This can be another piece of paper that you move at a consistent speed, or even something simple like your finger or a pen. The main aim is to keep the marker moving, even though you might want to stop or slow down. When you first try this technique, you may find that you don’t remember anything of what you have read. Keep trying! Remember that you are re-teaching your brain how to read!
5. Read vertically, not horizontally
When reading slowly, it is common in western languages to read from the left to the right. However, when speed reading, you will eventually be able to read straight down the page, with your eyes chunking once to the left and once to the right of the centre as you move your finger, a pen or other marker straight down the page.
6. Be prepared
Before attempting to speed read any text, try to get as much information as you can about what you are reading. Look for a title, any subheadings, images or text captions. Also very quickly scan for any bold, underlined or italicised text. Having some idea of what you are reading will help your reading speed.
None of the techniques above will work by the end of today. You need to keep practising and using these techniques wherever you can. Newspapers, magazines, textbooks – all of these are good practice material.