Student at the library

5 Quick Tips for Being a Better Reader

Updated By Staff Writer on August 27, 2020

Being a good reader isn’t only convenient—it will make your work, school, and home life a lot easier and more enjoyable. Follow these five tips for improving your speed, accuracy, and comprehension and you'll find yourself reading better immediately.

Quick Tip #1 - Stop Saying Words in Your Head as You Read

Almost every reader moves their throat or lips as they imagine themselves speaking the words on a page. Unfortunately, silent vocalization slows you down. If you find yourself doing this, hold a finger to your lips or chew gum. Keep in mind, this tip helps you read faster, but it may make it harder for you to remember or understand what you are reading. Because of that, only use this tip when you are reading something simple.

Quick Tip #2 - Use a Guide

This age-old tip has been used for centuries . . . because it works! Whether it’s your finger, a pencil, or a card covering the text ahead, using a guide to keep your eyes focused on one word at a time ups your focus and decreases distraction. Although this method works for everyone, it is especially useful for those who have ADHD or dyslexia. Over time, increase the speed with which you move your guide. This forces your eyes to follow and trains you to read faster and faster. As you progress, graduate to using your guide for each phrase rather than each word. Then guide each sentence and then each line. If you want to track your progress, try a reading speed test.

Quick Tip #3 - Have Someone Read to You

This may sound opposite of what you want to do, but following along as someone reads to you is a wonderful way to improve your own reading. No matter your age or ability, listening to a model of fluent reading makes the text come alive. Whenever possible, immediately read back what someone has read to you, matching your voice to theirs. This helps you practice sounding more natural when you read out loud. Or, try echo reading when you both read at the same time. Listening to (and following along with) audiobooks is another wonderful option. They can be purchased through an app or downloaded for free from your library.

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Quick Tip #4 - Practice Specific Trouble Words

Research shows that the more time you spend making errors and sounding out individual words, the less you understand the meaning of what you’re reading. You can work on solving this issue by making an ongoing list of mistake words (commonly called “sight” words). Study a few of those words at a time. Before you know it, you will be reading them fluently. Some ideas for studying sight words include:

  • Circle or underline tricky words as you read
  • Scan your reading material for any particular sight word
  • Write, write, and write them again and again
  • Make flashcards

Quick Tip #5 - Read Text Just Beyond Your Level

While you don’t want to push yourself too hard, reading things that are just beyond your current level is good brain exercise. Doing this causes you to slow down and give yourself a chance to stop and think about what is being said. Another trick you can do to up your understanding of what you’re reading is to ruin the story’s ending for yourself. When you need to read a novel that is beyond your level, skip to the last chapter or two of the book or, even better, read an online summary or list of reviews. Find out these three things: 1) What is the general storyline? 2) What does the author want me to know and feel? 3) Do I agree with it? When you can quickly answer these questions, you give yourself a head start in comprehending the entire book. With these five quick tips, your reading will get faster and easier to understand. Not only can this help you in all aspects of life, but you may just find that you enjoy reading more than ever before. You might enjoy studying as well, and wonder what your options are. Request more info about the online degree programs offered at Independence University!