Research shows that there is a big relationship between reading rate and reading comprehension.
Some people read rapidly and comprehend well; others read slowly and comprehend badly. Thus, there is some reason to believe that the factors producing slow reading are also involved in lowered comprehension.
Good comprehension depends on whether you can extract and retain the important ideas that you’ve read, not on how fast you read them. If you can do this fast, then your reading speed can be increased.
See also: Brief History of Speed Reading
If you pair fast reading with worrying about comprehension, your reading speed will drop because the mind is occupied with your fears and you are not paying attention to the ideas that you are reading.
But, if you concentrate on the purpose of reading (locating main ideas and finding answers to your questions), your speed and comprehension should increase. Your concern should be not with how fast you can get through a chapter alone, but with how quickly you can comprehend the facts and ideas that you need.
Comprehension during speed reading is easier than during standard reading.
This is because the mind is busy looking for meaning, not rereading words and sentences.
The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time rereading words than actually reading them.
Rereading interrupts the flow of comprehension and slows down the process, that’s why the habit of it should be eliminated.
How to comprehend easily?
Scan the chapter first. Identify the sections to which the author devotes the most amount of space – what where the text focuses. If there are lots of diagrams for a particular topic, then that must also be an important concept.
If you’re really under time pressure, you can skip the sections to which the least amount of space is devoted.
Take note on headings and read the first sentence of every paragraph more carefully than the rest of the paragraph. The main idea is usually situated there. Read the important parts and the main ideas. Focus on nouns and main propositions in each sentence. Look for the noun-verb combinations and focus the mind on these.
Then, close the book and ask yourself what you now know about the subject that you didn’t know before you started.
Reducing Skip Backs
Important: Don’t reread the same phrases from the text!
Poor readers read and reread the same phrase over and over again.
This habit of making “regressions” doubles or worse triples reading time and often does not even result in better comprehension. A single careful, attentive speed reading may not be always enough for completely comprehending the matter you are reading but is often more effective than constant regressions in the middle rate of a reading.
It is best to work on paying closer attention and doing a preview first before the careful reading.
To help reduce the number of times that the eyes go back to a previous word or sentence, run a pointer along the line as you read. This could be a finger, a pen, or any pointed material.
Your eyes will follow the tip of your pointer, smoothing the flow of speed reading. The speed at which you read using this method will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer; so if you want to speed up your reading, you also have to increase your pointing rate.