Speed Reading Tips and Techniques

Speed Reading Tips and Techniques for Banking/ Recruitment exams

 Dear MockBankers

We have received a lot of queries from banking exam aspirants on how to increase their reading techniques and at the same time maintain comprehension (understanding what you read).

Before going deep into speed reading techniques, let’s first find out how increased speed reading helps you in a competitive (specially bank) exams.

Most competitive bank or recruitment exams like SBI PO, RBI Grade B or IBPS PO are based on the following pattern.

200 questions in 120 minutes or 100 questions in 60 minutes, giving you an average of 35 seconds to SOLVE one question. i.e. it is a race against time. If you even manage to read through all the questions, the chances of your selection increase by ten folds.

There are many questions in english as well as quantitative section of bank exams where questions are upto 200 words long. Reading the entire question alone takes more than 30 seconds, therefore students end up taking 1 minute+ to solve it. So an increased reading speed gives you more time to solve a question and ultimately more questions in the stipulated time.

We will start this reading speed tutorial with a little exercise to find your current reading speed. Please follow the steps to arrive at your reading speed.

  • Since you have to appear for computer based exam it makes sense to check your reading speed on a computer or laptop (don’t use a mobile. )
  • Take any article on the internet, copy it to word. You will know the number of words in that article.
  • Take a stopwatch (stopwatch in your phone would do).
  • Start reading the article and press the start button.
  • After you finish the article press the stop button.
  • Now you know the number of words you read and the time taken to read those words.
  • Convert your minute score to seconds
  • Then divide number of seconds into number of words. This is your WPS or your Words Per Second.
  • Multiply this WPS by 60. This figure is your WPM or Words Per Minute (carry to one decimal place)
  • Here is an example:Suppose you read 2178 words in 9 minutes 30 seconds.

    Converting minute score to seconds

    There are 60 seconds in minute x 9 minutes reading = 540 seconds

    540 seconds + 30 seconds = 570 seconds. This is your reading time.

    2178 words divided by 570 seconds = 2178/570 = 3.8 WPS

    3.8 WPS x 60 seconds = 228 WPM

    Your reading speed is 228 WPM.

  • Do not forget to comment your reading speed in the comments section below.

Now that you know your reading speed lets do a basic comparison of reading speed of various types of readers and set a benchmark.

According to a scientific study conducted by Staples, an adult can read at an average reading speed of 300 words per minute. 

Below are different reading speeds of various kind of readers(average).

  • School going child in 3rd class has a reading speed of 150 wpm (words per minute)
  • An 8th standard student has a reading speed of 225 wpm.
  • College student has a reading speed of 300-325 wpm
  • Speed readers = 1000 wpm
  • World speed reading champion = 4,700 wpm

You might be wondering why the gap between college student’s reading speed of 300-325 and speed reader’s 1000 wpm. This gap of 1000 wpm is what ‘you’, the banking exam candidate needs to fill in. If you want to clear any recruitment exam your speed should be more than 450 and less than 1000 wpm. Why less than 1000? We will get to that in the next few lines.

A reading speed of 450+ words per minute gives you the ability to go through questions in less time and increases the time you get to solve the problem and subsequently read more questions.

Here you should remember that as your reading speed increases, your ability to comprehend decreases. This means that with increasing speed your mind starts losing focus on what you are reading and the understanding of the text decreases. Imagine you are able to read this article which is around 1000 words in one minute but after reading it, you are unable to understand as well as remember the tips written in this article. Would that do any good? No! Wouldn’t it be better if you could read the article in 2-3 minutes and understand each and every bit of it while you were reading it and remember it after you were done reading it. This is the reason your reading speed should be at a optimum level which is 450 – 1000 wpm. This will help you read fast as well as comprehend everything you have read. Remember you are not increasing your reading speed to make a world record, you are doing it to decrease the time taken to increase your chances of getting selected in bank recruitment exams. Don’t ever fall in the trap of reading more words at the cost of understanding less.

Now that you have a fair idea of optimum reading speed and your current reading speed, lets dig deeper into how you can increase your current reading speed to this optimum reading speed and clear the banking/recruitment exam with flying colors.

Reading Speed Tip no. 1: Get rid of the distractions.

Your exam will be conducted in an environment which free from distractions. So it makes sense to sit in a quite room with minimal disturbances for this exercise. This would help you concentrate on the material at hand and in effect improve retention.

Reading Speed Tip no. 2:  Stop Subvocalizing

All of us were trained in our schools to read out loud. After we had mastered this skill, we were ordered to say those words inside our head and read quietly. This reading the word in our head is known as sub vocalizing. It takes time, more time than what is required to comprehend the words. It is almost impossible to go much beyond 200 or 300 words while subvocalizing. So you need to train yourself to read without saying the words in your head.

If you read at around a 500- 1000 words per minute, you would simply see the word and your brain would automatically construct what has been written.You will understand text which you have read in a second, even though it may have taken at least five seconds to say the words in your head.

Reading Speed Tip no. 3: Practice Reading

This may sound absurd. I mean reading is what we have doing, from our childhood.  However, practice reading doesn’t mean reading. Practice reading means reading faster than you can actually read. At first you won’t comprehend much of what you are reading because your brain is so used to going at a slower rate and subvocalizing. The point here is to simply see the text faster than you can read so that you can untie the habit of sounding the words as you comprehend them.

You can start doing this by reading a book that you haven’t read before to ensure that our brain is practicing instead of relying on memory. Read maximum number of words in a minute.

Once you get used to practice reading at a high rate that you can’t comprehend, you should slowly be able to actually comprehend at a slightly slower rate but still faster than if you subvocalized.

Reading Speed Tip no. 4: Skim while you read.

Skimming means to go through something very quickly without paying much attention to individual details. This helps you get a gist of the theme of comprehension. Beware that skimming isn’t the same as superficial reading. You should be able to get a fair idea about what the writing is about. After you are done with skimming the paragraph you can go read the questions and you would find that you can very easily find out from which section of the paragraph the question is asked from and answer the complete set of questions in half the time that is generally needed to answer question of that sorts.

Reading Speed Tip no. 5: Use a pointer

Your eyes don’t stay fixed in one spot while reading. Infact your eyes move around considerably while going from left to right in reading a passage.

Use your mouse pointer to mark where you are on the page at all times. It should follow along with the word you are currently reading, slowly scrolling across each line and then back down one. By moving the pointer faster than you can actually read, your eyes get used to viewing text faster than your brain can process what is printed. This will break your subvocalization attachment and can easily let you double your reading rate with sufficient practice. Practice it with your fingers while reading a book or a newspaper too.

Reading Speed Tip no. 6: Like what you read. 

If you are reading a familiar topics it would be easier to read and so you would take less time to complete the passage or question. It should be remembered that when faced with unfamiliar topics never try to read faster than you can comprehend as this will result in rereading the same passage again and wasting your precious time.

So friends this is the end of our reading speed tips and techniques for competitive exams. We hope you have read and understood them and that these would help you clear your upcoming exams.

Still looking for more: Click here to read more speed reading tips and tricks  

Make sure to comment your current reading speed in the comments section below and ask us any questions that we might have been unable to cover in the article. Thank you for reading patiently. All the best. God Bless you!