Speed reading is an important skill for top performance in the Verbal Reasoning subtest
The faster you can read, the more time you will have for solving questions. This does not mean, however, that you read so fast that you miss essential information. The key is to be able to read quickly and effectively.
Complete this exercise to learn how to speed read and improve your Verbal Reasoning score.
1. Stop vocalising
Most people read by silently sounding out the words in their head. This is a perfectly acceptable way of reading day-to-day, but it is too slow for a time-limited context like the UCAT exam. To read quickly, you must train yourself to see the words and let the meaning pass directly into your mental process, without the extra step of vocalising aloud.
One approach to stop vocalising is to occupy your inner voice with something else. For example, you could repeat '1, 2, 3' in your head over and over again while you read. Alternatively, you could chant ‘dash’ every time you see a space between words in a sentence. Occupying your inner voice with something else stops you from being able to vocalise each word, while still reading and absorbing the words in the sentence.
Read the following sentences, repeating '1, 2, 3' in your head while you are reading.
2. Use your peripheral vision
Your peripheral vision can help you read faster. To practice this technique, draw two vertical lines at either side of your page that are indented by about one word. Instead of scanning your eyes from the left-most side to the right-most side of the page, scan your eyes between these two vertical lines. Your peripheral vision will help you read the words outside of these lines and you should still retain full comprehension of the text.
Eventually, as you get more familiar with this technique you can indent the lines further or remove them entirely. Try this technique with the passage below.
3. Read with a guide
When you read, your eyes do not generally move smoothly from one side of the page to the other. Instead, your eyes will jump from one fixation spot to another - these are called saccadic movements. To avoid this, use your finger or other pointed object to guide your reading in one continuous motion from left to right on each line. Try to focus on two fixation points per line, instead of allowing your line of sight to bounce to words you have already read.
Try this technique with the following passage. Make sure your brain follows the pace of your finger and focus on the diamond fixation points on each line. Allow your peripheral vision to do the rest!
4. Practice and have patience!
You will not be able to speed read immediately. Take some time to practice reading, starting slowly then building up speed. Time your current reading speed in words per minute and measure how you improve over time once you have practiced these techniques!