The Catholic University of America

Increase the Speed of your Reading: Speed Reading Drill



Do the following drill for 5 minutes, and if you drill for 20-30 minutes, 5 or 6 days a week, if can permanently increase your reading speed.


Preparation: you need a timer that times seconds that you don’t have to watch!


1.       Read in the material you want to drill on at a comfortable speed with good comprehension for one minute. Mark the point at which you were able to read.


2.       Calculate your reading speed. (Count the number of words on three full lines and divide by three to get the average words per line (wpl); count the number of lines read in a minute (lpm); multiply wpl by lpm to get the number of words per minute (wpm)

a.       Wpl * lpm= wpm à this is your current word speed


Three tips to help you read faster before doing the drill:

1.       Use a pacer—i.e. a pencil or 3x5 card that you can run below each line you are reading. Do not use your finger.

2.       Do not utilize sub-vocalization—moving your mouth, tongue, and vocal chords as if you’re reading aloud

3.       Do not go back and reread—it hinders comprehension. Keep reading and if there’s still a part you don’t understand, come back and reread that part.


Drill Time:

1.       Reread the same passage you read (to test your reading speed) in 30 seconds. Repeat until you can do it in 30 seconds. If you don’t get to your mark, your goal is to get to you mark in the time allotted regardless of how much you read or didn’t read.

2.       Reread the same passage in 20 seconds. Repeat until you can do it.

3.       Reread the passage in 15 seconds. Think about riding on a bullet train and watching billboards flash by – how much can you read? Only a word or two. That’s what you have to expect when you do the drill in 15 seconds. Try passing your eyes over the marks on the page, but don’t try to read them. Repeat until you can do it in 15 seconds.

4.       Reread the passage in 10 seconds. Note: this is not “reading” at this point—you may only see one or two words as you go. At this point don’t move your pacer down each line, rather move it down the center of the page or under 4 or more lines at a time. Repeat until you can do it.

5.       Beginning from your mark from #1 above, read for 1 minute with good comprehension, but use a pacer, don’t sub-vocalize, and don’t go back and reread.

6.       Calculate reading speed as above. Most people will increase their speed in this one drill—some even will double it, but it won’t be permanent unless you continue to drill.