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Gregory D' Loving, PhD University of Cincinnati Clermont College


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Title: Gregory D' Loving, PhD University of Cincinnati Clermont College

Gregory D. Loving, PhDUniversity of Cincinnati
Clermont College
Reading Faster
Click to continue
Reading academic material is one of the big
challenges of college life. College students not
only have to read more than they ever have
before, they have to read styles that they might
not have read without being forced to.Reading a
cheap novel or newspaper is a far cry from
reading academic material. Within academic
material, reading literature or history is a far
cry from reading a biology or algebra book. In
this workshop, we will learn about how we read
and how to read faster with increased
Reading in College
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Reading faster will definitely help you in your
college studies, but reading fast is not a
substitute for a good study plan. A good student
does several things with a textbook in addition
to the actual reading. We will look briefly at a
basic plan of attack before we get into reading
Fast Reading and Study Skills
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Any time you read material from a textbook, you
should first determine your purpose in
readingWill I be tested on this material?
How much detail will I be responsible for? Am
I reading this as research for a paper or as
information for a class that may be on a test?
Do I just have to know the basic concepts?
Knowing why you are reading will help you get
the information you need.
  • Click to continue

After determining your purpose in reading, skim
the section you intend to read. Look at
introductory and summary paragraphs, subject
headings, first and last sentences of paragraphs,
charts and graphs, and any other material that
will give you an overview before you get down to
reading. When you know how the the pieces fit
together, you will get more out of your reading.
  • Click to continue

Read only after you determine your purpose and
skim the selection. We will look at this part of
the studying processthe actual readingin a
  • Click to continue

There are a variety of study techniques available
to you after you read the required material
  • You may go back and take notes on the reading,
    outline the reading, or write a summary of the
  • You may highlight the main points of the section
    so you can go back to the text and review the
    material quickly.
  • You may even want to transfer things like
    formulas, facts and definitions to notecards to
    use in studying.
  • You also may want to write down questions or
    comments that you would like to share with your

Click to continue
The whole point here is Learning to read fast
can save you time, but do not neglect your other
responsibilities in studying a text. Now that
you have a better idea of where reading fits into
studying, we can deal with the subject of reading
  • Click to continue

Though there are ways you can increase your
overall reading speed, you will not be able to,
nor will you want to, read all kinds of texts at
the same speed. The more unfamiliar vocabulary
a text has, the more time it takes to read.
Writing styles you are not used to reading will
also slow you down until you get into the swing
of things. You should read complicated
explanations or arguments more slowly so you
dont miss a step.
The Need for Speed
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Just remember to change gears if you think you
are not getting it all. As you learn more
vocabulary and experience more styles, you will
naturally read faster. Speed helps, but speed
is not your ultimate goal. When reading for
school, the ultimate goal is not to finish your
assignment in record time but to learn the
material. If you dont learn the material, you
will have to waste time re-reading, which defeats
the whole purpose of reading fast in the first
place. The goal, then, is to read fast with
  • Click to continue

Here is an exercise that will illustrate some of
this. Words and phrases will pop up on the
screen. Try to read and remember them. Get some
scratch paper to help you. After the group of
words, youll answer a few questions.With pen
and paper ready, click to continue and the
exercise will run automatically.
  • Click to continue

Red armadillo
To the moon
Slanted baggage
Jaldegnet flitzer
Chance of showers
Cool as a cucamunga
Character education
Recessive gene
Throatgrabber townhammer
Slide into home
Take a minute to write down what you remember.
Click to continue
1. What color was the armadillo? 2. grabber
town .3. Cool as a .4. To the . 5.
Slide into .6. What type of baggage? 7.
What is the weather going to be like?8.
Character .9. Jaldegnet . 10. gene.
Now for some questions
Click to continue
Red armadilloTo the moonSlanted
baggageJaldegnet flitzerChance of showersCool
as a cucamungaCharacter educationRecessive
geneThroatgrabber townhammerSlide into home
Here is the original list. Check your answers
and correct them if necessary.
  • Click to continue

How did you do? You might have noticed several
things Phrases are easier to recognize if you
are already familiar with them. You may also
have been fooled by phrases that were close to
something familiar, and your mind leaped before
it looked.
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Also, words that you are not used to seeing
together are harder to read. Finally, words I
made up may have been the hardest of all. In
general, familiarity speeds you up, lack of
familiarity slows you down. Different types of
material will have different challenge speeds for
  • Click to continue

Most people entering college read at about
150-250 words per minute, about the same speed
people talk. When you click after you read this,
a selection of text will appear on the screen at
about 170 words per minute to give you an idea of
how fast that is.
Your Reading Speed
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All texts used in this presentation are from A
Modern History Sourcebook www.fordham.eduThe
following text is an exerpt from Geronimo, His
own story
Text will appear automatically in a few seconds
When an Indian has been wronged by a member of
his tribe he may, if he does not wish to settle
the difficulty personally, make complaint to the
If he is unable to meet the offending parties in
a personal encounter, and disdains to make
complaint, anyone may in his stead inform the
chief of this conduct, and then it becomes
necessary to have an investigation or trial.
Both the accused and the accuser are entitled to
witnesses, and their witnesses are not
interrupted in any way by questions, but simply
say what they wish to say in regard to the
The witnesses are not placed under oath, because
it is not believed that they will give false
testimony in a matter relating to their own
The chief of the tribe presides during these
trials, but if it is a serious offense he asks
two or three leaders to sit with him. These
simply determine whether or not the man is
If he is not guilty the matter is ended, and the
complaining party has forfeited his right to take
personal vengeance, for if he wishes to take
vengeance himself, he must object to the trial
which would prevent it.
If the accused is found guilty the injured party
fixes the penalty, which is generally confirmed
by the chief and his associates.
Remember, that was about 170 words per minute.
It may have seemed fast or slow to you, depending
on your current reading speed of average
difficulty material. Its easy to figure out
your reading speed if youre up to a little math
  • Click to continue

Get an average book with pages of solid text.
Count the words on one page count the words
in ten lines or so and multiply the average
number of words per line by the number of lines
on the page.Read at a normal speed for ten
minutes. Multiply the number of words per page
by the number of pages you read, which will be
the total number of words you read. Then divide
by ten, and this will give you number of words
read per minute.
  • Click to continue

When we are reading for pleasure, we really dont
have to read any faster than around 200 words per
minute. After all, no-one is breathing down
your neck demanding that you finish Gone With
the Wind or that article in WWF Monthly by
Friday so you can take an exam on it.
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When we read for school, though, the object is
usually to get the job done, and we cant take
our sweet time about it.The key to reading
faster centers around the fact that we read much
like we talkone word at a time.
  • Click to continue

A large portion of reading time consists of the
time it takes to physically move your eyes from
one word to the next. Look at a word focus
on it read it understand itmove your
eyes to the next word focus on it read
it understand itAnd so on. Reading is
actually more physical than we realize.
  • Click to continue

The best way to increase reading speed is to look
at more than one word at a time. This can be
easily accomplished using a little bit of our
peripheral vision. On the next slide, a phrase
will appear in the middle of the screen. There
will be a dot in the middle of the phrase. Just
look at the dot and see if you can read the whole
phrase. Resist the almost overpowering
temptation to look at each individual word.
  • Click to continue

Arriving on Tuesday
Its hard for most people to intentionally
concentrate on the dot and read the words without
looking directly at them. The phrase, by the
way, was Arriving on Tuesday.Now a series of
words will appear around the dot. Just keep
staring at the dot and see if you can read the
  • Click to continue

In the
still of the
night I
saw a
leaping armadillo.
That was In the still of the night I saw a
leaping armadillo.Lets try another one.
  • Click to continue

While at the
you may
chance upon
antique magazines.
That was While at the dentist you may chance
upon antique magazines.
  • Click to continue

you can practice reading more than one word at a
time with real reading material by looking at
several artificial points on every line. You can
literally put these points in with something like
a highlighter or pencil every inch or so, or you
can use imaginary points. Your aim in either
case is to look at these points and use your
peripheral vision to read as many words around
the point as you can.
  • Click to continue

Using the artificial point method is helpful, but
it adds an extra step that you dont have to go
through (now that Ive made you go through it,
of course.)
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Looking at more than one word happens naturally
if we force ourselves to read faster. When we
read faster than we are used to, our eyes get
used to reading single words faster. When we
push ourselves past about 300 words per minute,
our eyes start looking at two or three words at a
time instead of one (two or three words is the
limit that most peoples peripheral vision can
read consistently with understanding.) Looking
at several words at once cuts out a lot of
re-focusing time, and therefore cuts reading time.
  • Click to continue

There are a number of ways you can increase the
speed your eyes see the words on a page without
intentionally looking at an artificial
pointYou can use a piece of paper or even your
finger to sweep down the page at a speed that
challenges you, forcing yourself to read at a
faster pace. Youll miss things in the
beginning, but your eyes will eventually adjust
and you will start to read faster, taking in more
than one word at a time.
  • Click to continue

You can also use electronically paced texts,
some of which you will experience in a few
moments.The low-tech method, however, is the
most available and the most flexible. You can do
it anywhere, and speed up or slow down whenever
you need to. Its also cheap.
  • Click to continue

After you practice for a few weeks or months, you
should be able to read average difficulty
material at 400 to 500 words per minute. Dont
get hung up on the number of words per minute,
though, just try to read faster.
  • Click to continue

800 words per minute is about tops for human word
consumption. It may be hard to believe now, but
when you read at 800 words per minute, you
actually can see every individual word. Any
faster than 800 words per minute, though, and you
start skipping words and youre technically
skimming, not reading.Skimming is fine for
overviews before or after you read, but it
doesnt replace reading.
  • Click to continue

800 words per minute is the extreme top end of
the scale. College reading uses unfamiliar
terminology and more complicated sentence
structure, which will slow you down. 500 words
per minute is an admirable goal, and 300-400
words per minute isnt shabby either. You will
read different types of material at different
paces anyway. Overall improvement is more
important than raw speed, and comprehension is
the most important thing of all.
  • Click to continue

This leads us to another advantage of reading
fasterDid you ever stop reading and realize
you have no idea what the last five pages said?
  • Click to continue

In the split-seconds between words, your brain
has time to think about stuff like what you had
for breakfast, what youre doing this weekend,
duckbill platypuses, or whatever. When we read
faster, our brains stay interested because
information is coming in faster and those pesky
neurons dont have time to do anything else
besides read.
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When your brain stays interested, your
comprehension increases. Learning to read
faster, then, gives you a double paybackyou save
time and you increase comprehension.
  • Click to continue

In the exercises that follow, text will appear on
the screen at a predetermined pace. Just follow
along. Do not be surprised if you cant read
everything. The whole point of these exercises
is to challenge you. Dont consciously try to
look at groups of words. Your eyes will do that
for you when you are reading at uncomfortably
fast but understandable speeds.
The Exercises
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Lets give you a sample of various reading
speeds.Weve already seen 170 words per minute,
so lets start off with a selection at 250 words
per minute. Just sit back and read.
Reading Speed Examples
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Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America
(1831)Excerpts from Book 1, Chapter
On my arrival in the United States I was
surprised to find so much distinguished talent
among the citizens and so little among the heads
of the government.
It is a constant fact that at the present day the
ablest men in the United States are rarely placed
at the head of affairs and it must be
acknowledged that such has been the result in
proportion as democracy has exceeded all its
former limits.
The race of American statesmen has evidently
dwindled most remarkably in the course of the
last fifty years. The greater or lesser ease with
which people can live without working is a sure
index of intellectual progress.
This boundary is more remote in some countries
and more restricted in others, but it must exist
somewhere as long as the people are forced to
work in order to procure the means of
subsistence that is to say,
as long as they continue to be the people. It is
therefore quite as difficult to imagine a state
in which all the citizens are very well informed
as a state in which they are all wealthy these
two difficulties are correlative.
I readily admit that the mass of the citizens
sincerely wish to promote the welfare of the
country nay, more, I even grant that the lower
classes mix fewer considerations of personal
interest with their patriotism than the higher
but it is always more or less difficult for them
to discern the best means of attaining the end
which they sincerely desire. Long and patient
observation and much acquired knowledge are
requisite to form a just estimate of the character
of a single individual. Men of the greatest
genius often fail to do it, and can it be
supposed that the common people will always
succeed? The people have neither the time nor the
means for an investigation of this kind.
Their conclusions are hastily formed from a
superficial inspection of the more prominent
features of a question. Hence it often happens
that mountebanks of all sorts are able to please
the people, while their truest friends
frequently fail to gain their confidence. While
the natural instincts of democracy induce the
people to reject distinguished citizens as their
rulers, an instinct not less strong induces able
men to retire from the political arena,
in which it is so difficult to retain their
independence, or to advance without becoming
servile. This opinion has been candidly expressed
by Chancellor Kent, who says,
in speaking with high praise of that part of the
Constitution which empowers the executive to
nominate the judges It is indeed probable that
the men who are best fitted to discharge
the duties of this high office would have too
much reserve in their manners, and too much
austerity in their principles, for them to be
returned by the majority at an election
where universal suffrage is adopted. Such were
the opinions which were printed without
contradiction in America in the year 1830! I
hold it to be sufficiently demonstrated
that universal suffrage is by no means a
guarantee of the wisdom of the popular choice.
Whatever its advantages may be, this is not one
of them.
Heres 350 words per minute, from Cecile Augon,
Social France in the XVIIthe Century, Report of
the Estates of Normandy (1651)
Click to continue
Of the 450 sick persons whom the inhabitants were
unable to relieve, 200 were turned out, and these
we saw die one by one as they lay on the
A large number still remain, and to each of them
it is only possible to dole out the least scrap
of bread. We only give bread to those who would
otherwise die.
The staple dish here consists of mice, which the
inhabitants hunt, so desperate are they from
They devour roots which the animals cannot eat
one can, in fact, not put into words the things
one sees....
This narrative, far from exaggerating, rather
understates the horror of the case, for it does
not record the hundredth part of the misery in
this district.
Those who have not witnessed it with their own
eyes cannot imagine how great it is. Not a day
passes but at least 200 people die of famine in
the two provinces.
We certify to having ourselves seen herds, not of
cattle, but of men and women, wandering about the
fields between Rheims and Rhétel, turning up the
earth like pigs to find a few roots
and as they can only find rotten ones, and not
half enough of them, they become so weak that
they have not strength left to seek food.
The parish priest at Boult, whose letter we
enclose, tells us he has buried three of his
parishioners who died of hunger.
The rest subsisted on chopped straw mixed with
earth, of which they composed a food which cannot
be called bread.
Other persons in the same place lived on the
bodies of animals which had died of disease, and
which the curé, otherwise unable to help his
people, allowed them to roast at the presbytery
From Letters of the Abbess of Port-Royal (1649)
This poor country is a horrible sight it is
stripped of everything.
The soldiers take possession of the farms and
have the corn threshed, but will not give a
single grain to the owners who beg it as an alms.
It is impossible to plough. There are no more
horses all have been carried off. The peasants
are reduced to sleeping in the woods and are
thankful to have them as a refuge from murderers.
And if they only had enough bread to half satisfy
their hunger, they would indeed count themselves
(1652) People massacre each other daily with
every sort of cruelty.... The soldiers steal from
one another when they have denuded every one
and as they spoil more property than they carry
off, they are themselves often reduced to
starvation, and can find no more to annex.
All the armies are equally undisciplined and vie
with one another in lawlessness.
The authorities in Paris are trying to send back
the peasants to gather in the corn but as soon
as it is reaped the marauders come to slay and
steal, and disperse all in a general rout.
Now well go to a brisk 500 words per
minute.The next few selections are
MOVEMENT Courtesy of the National Womens
History Project
  • Click to continue

Women won the vote. They were not given it or
granted it. Women won it as truly as any
political campaign is ultimately won or lost.
And they won it by the slimmest of margins, which
only underscores the difficulty and magnitude of
their victories.
Take the successful California referendum
campaign of 1911, for example. The margin of
victory there was just one vote per precinct!
In the House of Representatives, suffrage passed
the first time by exactly the number of votes
with one supporter being carried in from the
hospital and another leaving his wife's deathbed
to be there to cast their votes.
In the Senate, suffrage passed with just two
votes to spare. When the Nineteenth Amendment was
sent to the states
for ratification, Tennessee, the last state,
passed it by a single vote, at the very last
minute, during a recount!
Consider this for a moment Women were a poor and
disenfranchised class when they first organized
to gain political power in the mid-1800s.
Their struggle for the ballot took over 70 years
of constant, determined campaigning, yet it did
not take a single life, and its success has
Compare this with male-led independence
movements. Without firing a shot, throwing a
rock, or issuing a personal threat, women won for
rights that men have launched violent rebellions
to achieve. The suffragists' deliberate rejection
of violence may be
one of the reasons the movement has not received
the attention that is lavished on other, more
bloody periods of American history.
But this neglect should not deceive us this
struggle was waged every bit as seriously as any
struggle for equality.
We would do well to consider how women were able
to do what men have rarely even tried to do,
change society in a positive and lasting way
without violence and death.
But despite all of this, the suffrage movement
has been routinely and consistently ignored by
mainstream historians.
And when it has not been ignored it has been
substantially misrepresented. The result is our
mistaken notion that
the suffrage movement was an inconsequential
cause, one hardly worthy of our attention, much
less our respect.
The woman suffrage movement is often treated as a
lone curiosity with nothing much to teach us, or
worse, as a target for clever academics to
Fortunately, there have been some notable
exceptions, but this attitude lies at the heart
of the problem.
But when we take a closer look at the history of
the American woman suffrage movement we can see
something very different.
What we can see is definitely not a dour,
old-woman cause benevolently recognized by
Congressional gods.
We can see a movement of female organizers,
leaders, politicians, journalists, visionaries,
rabble rousers, and warriors.
We can see an active, controversial, passionate
movement of the best and the brightest women in
America, from all backgrounds, who,
as we say today, boldly went where no women had
ever gone before.
Here is 800 words per minute, the limit between
reading and skimming.
  • Click to continue

It is important to remember that men were
suffragists, too. The suffrage movement both
included men as supporters and depended on the
votes that only men could cast.
Even when state suffrage measures were lost, the
question often received tens of thousands of male
votes of approval. And, of course, it was a
virtually all-male Senate and House
that approved the amendment, along with 36
virtually all-male state legislatures that
ratified it. Many courageous men risked ridicule
and worse to actively support women's rights.
In my opinion, those men are far better role
models for us today than many better-known
political and military figures in American
history. You do not need to be female,
consider yourself a feminist or even political,
to enjoy learning about the suffrage movement.
For while the subject is woman suffrage, the
larger story is about democracy,
and how a powerless class of Americans won
concessions and guarantees from those in power
without the use of violence. In learning about
the suffrage movement,
you will find a new view of American history,
brimming with new heroes. Next to George
Washington and his cherry tree we can set young
Carrie Chapman Catt driving a wagon across the
prairie by "dead reckoning"
or brave Lucretia Mott trusting her own safety to
a member of the mob roused against her. Let us
honor Sojourner Truth no less than Patrick Henry,
and Alice Paul no less than Woodrow Wilson.
The celebration of the suffrage movement victory
holds a particular relevance now, as it has
helped lead us as a country and a people to where
we are today. It celebrates a substantial
milestone on the road to equal rights for women,
and it honors those who helped win the day. It
puts women back into our national history as
active participants. It reminds us
of the necessity of progressive leaders,
organizers, and visionaries in every local
community. It is the origin of the yet-unpassed
Equal Rights Amendment. It exposes the
misplaced fears and prejudices of those who
oppose equal rights for women, and offers a
sobering reminder that too many of these same
foolish, reactionary attitudes from 100 years ago
still exist today.
Clearly, the wider goal of women's full equality
and freedom has not yet been achieved, but the
victorious woman suffrage movement offers a new
generation of activists a solid base on which to
build for the future.
Just for torture, lets double the 800 and see
what 1600 words per minute looks like, whizzing
by.This text is a speech by Barry M.
Goldwater,Ban on Gays is Senseless Attempt to
Stall the Inevitable
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After more than 50 years in the military and
politics, I am still amazed to see how upset
people can get over nothing. Lifting the ban on
gays in the military isn't exactly nothing,
but it's pretty damned close. Everyone knows that
gays have served honorably in the military since
at least the time of Julius Caesar. They'll still
be serving long after we're all
dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.
But most Americans should be shocked to know that
while the country's economy is going down the
the military has wasted half a billion dollars
over the past decade chasing down gays and
running them out of the armed services. It's no
great secret that
military studies have proved again and again that
there's no valid reason for keeping the ban on
gays. Some thought gays were crazy, but then
found that wasn't true.
Then they decided that gays were a security risk,
but again the Department of Defense decided that
wasn't so-in fact, one study by the Navy in 1956
that was never made public
found gays to be good security risks. Even Larry
Korb, President Reagan's man in charge of
implementing the Pentagon ban on gays, now admits
that it was a dumb idea.
No wonder my friend Dick Cheney, secretary of
defense under President Bush, called it "a bit of
an old chestnut" When the facts lead to one
I say it's time to act, not to hide. The country
and the military know that eventually the ban
will be lifted. The only remaining questions are
how much muck we will all
be dragged through, and how many brave Americans
like Tom Paniccia and Margarethe Cammermeyer will
have their lives and careers destroyed in a
senseless attempt to stall the inevitable.
Some in congress think I'm wrong. They say we
absolutely must continue to discriminate, or all
hell will break loose. Who knows, they say,
perhaps our soldiers may even
take up arms against each other. Well, that's
just stupid. Years ago, I was a lieutenant in
charge of an all-black unit. Military leaders at
the time believed that blacks
lacked leadership potential - period. That seems
ridiculous now, as it should. Now, each and every
man and woman who serves this nation takes orders
from a black man
- our own Gen. Colin Powell. Nobody thought that
blacks or women could ever be integrated into the
military. Many thought that an all-volunteer
force could never
protect our national interest. Well, it has, and
despite those who feared the worst - I among them
- we are still the best and will continue to be.
The point is that decisions are always a lot
easier to make in hindsight. but we seldom have
that luxury. That's why the future of our country
depends on leadership,
and that's what we need now. I served in the
armed forces. I have flown more than 150 of the
best fighter planes and bombers this country
I founded the Arizona National Guard. I chaired
the Senate Armed Services Committee. And I think
it's high time to pull the curtains on this
charade of policy.
What should undermine our readiness would be a
compromise policy like "Don't ask, don't tell."
That compromise doesn't deal with the issue - it
tries to hide it.
We have wasted enough precious time, money and
talent trying to persecute and pretend. It's time
to stop burying our heads in the sand and denying
reality for the sake of politics.
It's time to deal with this straight on and be
done with it. It's time to get on with more
important business. The conservative movement, to
which I subscribe, has as one
of its basic tenets the belief that government
should stay out of people's private lives.
Government governs best when it governs least -
and stays out of the impossible
task of legislating morality. But legislating
someone's version of morality is exactly what we
do by perpetuating discrimination against gays.
When you get down to it, no American able to
serve should be allowed, much less given an
excuse, not to serve his or her country. We need
all our talent.
If I were in the Senate today, I would rise on
the Senate floor in support of our commander in
chief. He may be a Democrat, but he happens to be
right on this question.  
Now its time for you to practice on you own.
You can either use the paper/finger technique
to make yourself read faster, or use more
computerized speed-texts to sharpen your skills.
Calculate your reading speed every once in a
while on various types of material to see how
youre doing. Come back to this workshop
occasionally to see if its any easier at the
higher speeds.
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