How to read faster and comprehend more: increasing your reading speed by 200% in 30 Minutes

Warning: before reading this post and applying the tricks explained here, you must know that there’s a very low probability of your brain exploding during the process! I decline any responsibility if such an event were to occur…



I’m shocked.

What I’m about to tell you just blew my mind!

This is not clickbait. This is serious stuff. And the post where I found this technique was titled: “How to read 300% faster in 20 minutes”. So there’s still room for improvement.


If you’re like me and everyone else, you probably read with your eyes following each line continuously. Going from the beginning to the end of the line. Then going back to the beginning of the following line and so one. And of course it seems normal.

There’s actually a trick to read much faster. And it’s very simple to implement. It consists in making small jumps with your eyes. Instead of following the lines, you just have to jump from the beginning of the line to the end of the line. Don’t worry if you don’t get it, I’m going to explain this trick in detail. I just experimented it on myself. I’m going to share with you the results.


“Wait! There’s a catch! You read way faster alright why not, but I’m sure you didn’t understand half of what you just read!!”


Well this is the beauty of this trick: you read faster AND you still understand what you’re reading. Actually, you even retain more. I won’t dwell on this any further here but there are studies showing that when you read faster you retain more. Just try by yourself!

Ok here it is. Are you ready?


The 30-minute technique

Yes, it took me 30 minutes to experiment and try this technique.

You will need two things for this experiment: a timer and a pen. Actually, I used my phone and my finger. It worked just fine. I activated the airplane mode on my phone to not be disturbed.


First part

  • take a book
  • count the number of words in 5 lines of the first page
  • divide this number by 5
  • you obtain your number of words-per-line

Example: I counted 48 words in 5 lines. 48/5=9.6, which you round to 10 words-per-line.

Next set your timer for 1 minute and read. Read comfortably, read to understand what you’re reading. Do not attempt to read faster than normal.

Then count the number of lines you just read. Multiply it by your words-per-line number and you obtain your words-per-minute number.

Example: I read 42 lines in 1 minute. So 42×10=420 and my reading speed is 420 words-per-minute.

The average reading speed in the US is between 200 and 300 words-per-minute. So if you’re between 200 and 300 that’s just fine. If you’re above 300, nice job! And if you’re below 200, no worries. With the tips you’re about to discover you will quickly attain the 200 mark and even go beyond!


Second part

The technique to improve your reading speed uses two tricks. First you’re going to implement the first one.

So take your pen (with a cap on!) or your finger. Use it to follow along the lines as you read. BUT your pen (or finger) dictates the reading speed, and not your eyes! Your pen underline the lines and your eyes read following the pace of the pen. You have to aim at a reading speed of one second per line. So impose the pace with your pen and follow with your eyes. Here you’re focusing on speed, not comprehension. Don’t worry if you can’t understand what you’re reading. Trust me, it was really troubling when I did it! But everything’s going to be ok.


First phase:

Set your timer for 2 minutes and read.


Second phase:

Now you’re going to increase the speed of your pen: aim at approximately half of second per line. So go twice as fast as before. Again remember: you’re focusing on speed here, and not comprehension! Set your timer for 3 minutes and read.


This is intense right? I thought my brain would explode after doing it! But don’t worry there’s more to come! *Sigh*

The aim of the second phase was to learn how to increase your reading speed with a pen.


Third part

I won’t dwell on the scientific explanation here. The idea behind the second trick is that if you focus on a single point on your book or on a screen you’re still able to see what’s going on around. Even though you’re not looking directly around.

So now with your pen instead of following the lines you will jump. From the beginning to the end of the line. You’re going to begin one word in from the first word of the line and then jump to one word in from the last word of the line. Here’s an example:


“My name is Akita and I’m awesome. I learn languages and share some tips on this blog.”


Consider the line above. You’re going to place your pen at “name” and then jump to “this”.


First phase:

Set your timer for one minute and read. Here you have to move your pen at one second per line. Again focus on speed rather than comprehension! It’s going to feel weird but don’t worry. Follow the instructions and everything’s going to be alright!


Second phase:

Same exercise. But this time you’re going to begin two words in from the first word of each line and jump to two words in from the last word of each line. Example with the following line:


“My name is Akita and I’m awesome. I learn languages and share some tips on this blog.”


You place your pen at “is” and then jump to “on”.


Third phase:

Set your timer for three minutes. This time you begin three words in from the first word of each line and jump to three words in from the last word of each line.


How are you feeling? Tired? Exhausted? That’s normal. Congrats, you’re almost done!


Fourth part (and the last one!)

Now use the technique with the pen used as a pacer and jumping from three words in from the first word of each line to three words in from the last word. Read fast but also aim at comprehension now. So you have to understand what you’re reading and go as fast as you can.

Set the timer for one minute.

When you’re done count the number of lines you just read. Multiply it by your words-per-line number.

Example: here I read 90 lines in 1 minute. So 90×10=900. My new reading speed is 900 words-per-minute. My initial speed was 420. So I more than doubled my reading speed!! With an exercise that took me 30 minutes to read and apply! And the crazy thing is that at this final rate I was understanding what I was reading.

Truly mind-blowing!

I was in a loud environment when completing the exercise. Noise in the flat, noise coming from the neighbors. I had headphones on with music to cover the noise. But still, I was able to double my speeding rate.


And now what? You can still go further. There are a few options here:

  • You can use the technique, repeat the exercise a few days later and see how far you can go.
  • You can use the technique and force yourself to read faster every time you’re reading. Without losing comprehension!


Thanks for reading this post until the end. It was hectic! Tell me in the comments if you tried the technique and how it went.

The funny thing is that 99% of people reading this article won’t even try the tricks described here…



Blog post written by Tim Ferriss

Video made by Tim Ferriss

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