speed reading > articles

Test yourself for how many times you fixate

Look at the phrase of four words -

Power belongs to learners


a) 25% of educated readers focus on the P in power, mentally attempting to split the word power into syllables - a 3rd grade reading-strategy.

b) 70% of intelligent readers focus on the single-word - Power of the phrase, and are reading one-word-at-a-time - a snail-slow 3rd grade reading strategy used all their reading lives.

c) 5% of readers - speed readers - focus their eyes on the entire- four words simultaneously - Power belongs to learners. They see it as Power belong stolearners. They are using their peripheral-vision to chunk groups of words at-a-time for better context, and improved concentration and long-term memory.

A skilled reader will read many words in each fixation (typically from five to an entire line), will only fixate for a very short period of time (maybe quarter of a second), and will move on with very few skip-backs. This minimizes the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do, increases the volume of information that can be examined in a period of time, and maximizes understanding of the material.

A poor reader will become bogged down, spending a lot of time reading small fixations. He or she will skip back often, losing the flow and structure of the text and hence overall understanding of the subject. The increased amount of irregular eye movement will make the reading. A poor reader may therefore find the text significantly less satisfying, and may find it harder to concentrate and understand the text than a good reader.


What is fixations

A fixation is that split second when the eye focuses on a letter or word. Among adult readers fixations vary in number per line and in width. To see the eyes fixate and move across lines of print use a sheet of paper with typed paragraphs on it. Punch a small hole in the center of the text. Hold the blank side of the paper close to the face so you look through that little hole as someone else reads the paragraph silently. Watch their eyeballs. No wonder the eyes get tired when you read a lot!

They have been busy little fellas bouncing around like that, and they need an occasional rest. Count the number of fixations per line. Count the number of words per line and divide by the number of fixations to find the average number of fixations per line. Ask the other person to watch you read and to count eyes fixations.

You may be able to read faster by reducing the number of fixations per line from perhaps seven to three. This problem is a carry-over from first grade when you learned to recognize one letter at a time and then combine them into one word at a time. We have to break that habit. To accomplish this you may learn to include more text per fixation so you see three plus four or seven letters on either side of the fixation for a total of eleven to seventeen letters (the middle three letters plus four on each side would total eleven).

Visual span software

A unique computer sofware can help you broad the visual span as you read. These are vertical lines on the screen that are about a centimeter apart at first and change to two or three centimeters apart as your fixation span increases. You fixate on the lines as you read. As with any skill development, practice is necessary. The program should be set up to help you with eye fixation and movement over the page.


Reduce the word by word focus of the eyes as you are actually speed reading.

The objective is to read slightly faster than you are used to using a special hand motion to "soften" your eye focus.

Hold the book with your left hand at the top. Slightly cup your right hand and place the ends of your index, middle and ring fingers on the right hand side of the top of the text.

You are going to make quick hand motions which move the right fingers down and to the left at about 45 degrees. You must move the fingers quickly as if you are "polishing" the page. As you polish you will be reading for understanding. i.e. read normally. You are not "scanning". Read the text that is being "polished" by your fingers.

This technique is far more effective than just placing your fingers under the line you are reading. As you become more proficient, challenge your reading speed by making the hand motions more vertical. Remember to always try to be on the upper limit of how fast you can read and still understand what you are reading.