A Nursing Student’s Guide to Speed Reading

how to speed read

Learning how to speed read is important in studying for nursing school. It is practical for student nurses especially in studying lengthy lessons from school.

What is Speed Reading?
Speed reading is the technique of learning important bits of information while reading quickly. You don’t need to read a selection word-by-word as you will only pick important parts worth remembering.

Methods of Speed Reading

Speed reading can be done in several ways. Here are some of the most popular methods:

1. Skimming


Skimming is a reading method where you skip reading the unimportant parts of a selection. Determining the parts you should skip reading in a quick glance is a skill that takes time to develop. Skimming cuts reading time by up to 50% but studies have shown that only few details are retained in the memory during skimming.

2. Meta Guiding

meta guiding

Meta guiding is using your finger or any pointer in guiding your eyes to specific words. The purpose of the pointer is to direct your focus and to reduce distraction while you speed up reading. It trains your mind to expand your visual span so you can read selections in chunks rather than in word-by-word basis.

3. Eliminating Subvocalization


Subvocalization is the way you subconsciously say the words you read. It is a form of internal speech. It slows down reading as your eyes wait for your mind to reflect back the words you read. Subvocalization is a natural response of the brain to reading but once you learn how to eliminate it, you can speed up your reading skills.

Also Read: Top 10 Tips On How To Survive Nursing School

Speed Reading Tips for Nursing Students

There are tons of lessons nursing students face every day at school. To help you prepare for examinations as you go through thick nursing books, here are some tips in developing your speed reading skills:

1. Turn off the voice in your head when reading. You need to eliminate subvocalization so you can quickly learn how to speed read. To do this, you should be aware how your mind speaks as you read selections. Then, train your eyes and mind to continue reading without waiting for the voice in your head to reflect back the words you have read. It takes a lot of practice but once you develop the habit, other speed reading techniques will be easier to follow.

speed reading

2. Read in “chunks”. Reading word-by-word will make you miss the overall concept of a sentence. In reality, people who read sentences in a word-by-word basis understand less than those who read sentences by chunking words altogether. Learn to read between the lines to have a better grasp of the idea conveyed in a sentence.

speed read

3. Soften your eye motion. Eye motion is an important key in speed reading.  When reading a selection, soften your gaze by relaxing your facial muscles and letting your vision expand rather than focusing in a single word. Once you learn to use your peripheral vision in reading, your mind will be more trained to perceive words read by chunks.

speed read eye motion

4. Use a pointer to avoid regression. Regression is the habit of re-reading back the lines you have already read. Most people fall into this habit whenever they doubt themselves if they have understood the lines they have read.

To avoid regression, use a pointer along the line you read. Your eyes should follow the tip of the pointer as you read to avoid skipping back to the lines you already finished.

You can also use this technique during test-taking to make sure you don’t accidentally miss an item and ruin your entire exam.

Also Read: 8 Great Tips for Overcoming Test-Anxiety as a Nursing Student

meta guiding pointer

5. Use a timer. This is advised for beginners so you can track your progress in speed reading. Setup the timer for one minute. After each minute ends, mark the line where you stopped reading. Count the lines you finished for each minute that ended. This will help you keep track if you are improving your speed reading skills.

speed read timer

It takes lots of practice to master speed reading but once mastered, it becomes a crucial skill in surviving nursing school.

About the Author: Je Abarra is a nurse by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years. During her free time, she usually writes about her fascinations in health and nursing. She loves to provide tips and fun facts about nursing and healthy living.