Reading Mistakes

Are You Making These 3 Reading Mistakes?

Reading Mistakes

When was the last time you learned how to read? If you’re like most people, it was probably at some point early on in grade school. The problem with most educational systems is that there is little follow up in teaching students how to read more efficiently. You may have learned the basics, but very few people learn advanced level reading techniques that can improve speed and comprehension. They end up reading slowly as a result of a few common mistakes that you can easily correct.

Mistake #1: Reading one word at a time

One of the main reasons most people read slowly is because their eyes focus on one word at a time.

You can speed up your reading drastically if you learn to read groups of words.

Word-by-word reading is an old habit from when we first learned how to read. Back then, it was absolutely necessary. As a child you had to read one word at a time because you word break each word down, syllable by syllable.

Once you hit the age of about 12 you no longer need to go word-by-word. You’ve seen these words many times. And you’re perfectly capable of readinggroups ofwords (see what I did there).

You already read groups of words!

It happens all the time when you’re driving. If you were driving toward New York City and you saw an exit sign that said “New York City”, your eyes would quickly focus on the sign and read all three of these words.

But if those words were buried in the middle of a paragraph, most people would read them one… by… one.

So how do we start reading groups of words consistently?

Part of learning how to read groups of words involves expanding your peripheral vision. You can do this through a variety of exercises we teach in our courses, but the simplest way to start reading groups is by using our free speed-reading app at

This speed-reading tool blinks words on the screen at a speed that you set. You can change the settings to blink 2, 3, 4 or more words at a time. This is a great way to start training yourself to read groups of words. Start with 2 words blinked at a time and work your way up from there.

Mistake #2: Re-reading when you shouldn’t

Have you ever read a paragraph and wondered: “what the heck did I just read?”

Every so often our mind wanders off while reading. We then go back to re-read.

Have you ever read the same sentence 3, 4 or 5 times, wondering: “Why am I not getting this?”

This is a good example of re-reading when you don’t have to.

There could be several reasons why you didn’t understand it:

  • You weren’t paying attention.
  • The sentence was written poorly.
  • The sentence won’t make sentence until you read the rest of the paragraph.

That final reason happens very often while you’re reading. Think about it.

You could re-read that one sentence a million times and you’ll never understand it until… you read the rest of the paragraph.

Here’s the main point: you should never re-read after just one sentence.

Always read the whole paragraph before you decide to re-read anything. You’ll be surprised at how much time you’ll save by pushing yourself through paragraphs without stopping halfway through to re-read.

Mistake #3: Not getting familiar with what you read

Most people read everything from beginning to end.

While this may be a good idea for things like fiction, it’s a terrible mistake when reading most types of non-fiction.

Before you read anything, you should always get familiar with it in some way.

If you aren’t familiar with what you’re about to read, then you’ll have to read it more slowly. And you’ll probably have more difficulty understanding the information.

But if you get familiar with your text, you’ll find it much easier to read at a faster speed and you’ll have better comprehension too!

Here are some ways to get familiar with various types of text before reading them fully:

  • Before reading a book from beginning to end, read the summary of each chapter (in addition to reading the back and the table of contents).
  • Use Wikipedia to read a synopsis of the book.
  • Use YouTube to watch a short video about the book.
  • Use to read a summary of the book.
  • Use to generate an executive summary of your article.
  • Read the headings of each chapter before reading those chapters.
  • In a short article, read the first sentence of each paragraph.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to get familiar with your text before reading it. Doing so will help you read faster with better comprehension.

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Paul Nowak

Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading courses in North America. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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