If you’re like me, you probably pile up a long list of articles in your Instapaper or Pocket accounts that you intend to read later. But keeping up with the books I want to read, and job-related reading requirements, I have nearly given up on reading anything later. But I also know that I tend to be a slow reader, because of my habit of subvocalizing and highlighting text as I read. I have always been aware of speed reading techniques, but I have never got around to practicing them.
However, I have just discovered a very interesting and useful iPad app called ReadQuick ($3.99) which incorporates both a useful speed reading technique, as well as connecting to your Instapaper and Pocket accounts. In the few days I have used the Readquick app, I have quickly read through several of my “read later” articles, while also practicing a good speed reading technique.
We have published an article about useful speed reading apps, including ReadQuick, so in this review I will share some tips and suggestions for the speed reading process and how to make better use of ReadQuick.
How ReadQuick Works
The reason many of us read slowly is because we tend to subvocalize each word we read in an article or book. We actually read with what is called our larynx, which is a structure inside our throat that holds our vocal cords, and it means that we “say” words as we read them. Some readers even move their lips as they read, which is called “voicing” words as they are read. In order to speed read, you need to practice not subvocalizing or voicing words as you read.
To counter our habit of subvocalizing, ReadQuick reformats a selected article and presents the text one word at a time, but the speed is at 100 to 800 words per minute. You can set your own reading pace, but the developers of ReadQuick suggest you start at about 350 words per minute, which is about double the amount of time an average reader reads.
At first it may seem odd to read documents using this method, but actually ReadQuick strips a selected article of all surrounding distractions so you can focus only on the text. This way your eyes are not distracted by surrounding images, or even the structure of the document. ReadQuick challenges you to absorb text faster, and because of the pace that the words are presented, you can practice not subvocalizing as you read.
Here’s a video introduction on how ReadQuick works.
Speed Reading Process Tips
You can access articles in ReadQuick via your Instapaper or Pocket accounts, or download and save articles using the app’s built-in web browser. But before you double-tap on an article and start reading it, there are a few steps in the speed reading process you should consider.
First off, the speed at which we read is largely influenced by your prior knowledge of the content in which you are reading. If for example you have a lot of existing knowledge about how smartphones work, you will read articles faster which are about that topic. On the other hand, if you’re reading an article about quantum physics, and you know very little about the subject, your reading will be a lot slower, because you are attempting to comprehend unfamiliar information.
So you will probably want to adjust your reading speed based on how familiar you are with the subject and content of the document.
In this regard, the user interface of the ReadQuick app includes two features that can help you prepare for speed reading. All the articles listed in ReadQuick include the title and first paragraph of each document. It also shows the number of minutes it will take to read an article based on the words per minute you have set.
If you are reading an article in which the subject matter is not familiar to you, taking less than 30 seconds to read the title and introduction will help you become familiar with what the document is about. Next, you can skim the original article in ReadQuick before you double-tap to start speed reading it.
It’s a good idea to skim the original article, noticing the subtitles, main ideas and any accompanying images or callout text. Pre-reading the article can help you become familiar with its content so you are not reading cold turkey.
Comprehending What You Read
As the words of a selected article whiz by in ReadQuick, you may feel as though you’re not comprehending all the information. But keep in mind, comprehension works on a couple of different levels. In many cases, when you are speed reading, the point is not to remember every fact or name in the document, but to instead comprehend main ideas, arguments, and information of the document.
If on the other hand, you’re reading say a novel or short story for enjoyment, you may only be concerned about the direction of the story, not comprehending all the details. Note, however, there are types of literature you may not want to speed read through, e.g., poems, lyrical novels, technical or philosophical content.
Your comprehension also depends upon your purpose for reading an article or document. If you’re reading say a news article, your purpose may be to simply to find out about a current event, or to read an opinion about a controversial issue. But if you’re reading say a how-to article like the ones presented in MakeUseOf, your reading purpose may be different. You may read how-to articles more slowly so you can apply what you read as you read.
If you’re reading for academic purposes, you may want to speed read the content, and then go back and review the facts and other information for study purposes.
ReadQuick includes some other handy features for accessing and speed reading articles. The app not only keeps track of the number of articles you read, and your average reading speed, but it also presents a list of top sources you read articles from. Reading articles from familiar sources also helps you read faster because you become increasingly familiar with the type of content and style of the articles published on your most accessed sites.
Also, ReadQuick allows you to enlarge the size of the speed reading text. You may be surprised how a larger text size can help you read faster, so don’t hesitate to use that feature.
As you become more comfortable using the ReadQuick app, you may want to set aside some time to plow through a batch of articles in say 30 minutes. The ReadQuick app allows you to create a “playlist” of selected articles which you can speed read through.
Resisting the habit to subvocalize as you read may be very difficult, but if you want to increase the amount of material you read, ReadQuick may be prove to be a useful technique. Let us know what you think of this app, and what features you would like to see added.