This is the information age and to survive, thrive, compete and win in this highly competitive environment, one must manage the information. It was Francis Bacon who wrote, “Knowledge is power.” If knowledge is power, then the most powerful knowledge is the one that teaches you how to gain more knowledge in less time. Speed-reading is a skill that helps you gain more knowledge in less time.
Whether you are an executive, a manager, an author, a researcher, a teacher or a student your professional and personal success depends on your ability to learn new things and be current in your field of specialization. You should be aware of the latest developments and trends in your chosen field. You should also have a reasonably good awareness about what is happening in the world. For all these you should have the ability to read, absorb and assimilate the information that is available from myriad sources-newspapers, journals, magazines, electronic newsletters, e-zines, web sites, and so on.
Today we are not faced with lack of information; instead we are faced with information overload. In this age of information explosion we are bombarded with information. So we must develop skills and formulate sound strategies to deal with the information explosion. We should develop the ability to wade through the vast ocean of information available and zero in on the information that we need. Also we should improve our reading speeds, we should develop skills that will help us read faster so that we can cover more materials in less time. But the improvement of reading speed should not be at the expense of comprehension. If you double or triple your reading speed while your level of comprehension goes down, then there is no point in reading faster, because you won’t be able to recall or remember anything that you have read at those high speeds.
Speed-reading is a skill that can be developed by practicing the correct way of reading. Most of us have low reading speeds because of the incorrect reading methods that we practice. These bad habits include reading either letter-by-letter or at best word-by-word, vocalization (reading aloud), sub-vocalization (moving your lips while reading), inner-vocalization (pronouncing the words in your mind while reading), high fixation time (the time you take to move from one word or group of words to the next when reading), low fixation span (the number of words that you read at a time when you are reading) and so on. You may also notice that you don’t always proceed from one block of words to the next-sometimes you may move back to a preceding block of words if you are unsure about something. These disruptions to the forward flow of reading are called ‘skip-backs’ or regression. There are other bad habits like moving your head from one side to the other while reading (pendulum movement), difficulty in finding the beginning of the next line when you have finished a line (poor line fixation), taking your own time to come to the starting point of a new line once you have finished a line (slow recovery time) and so on. Another biggest problem is poor levels of comprehension caused by the inability to concentrate or focus on the material that you are reading.
Only if you get rid of the bad reading habits, you can increase your reading speed, improve your comprehension and increase your ability to recall what you have read. In this information glutted society speed-reading has become an absolute necessity if you want to stay ahead of your competition. A study by Xerox corporation has revealed that an average business executive or college student should read a million words per week to keep up with the developments in their field of specialization or area of study. This figure is increasing everyday and the percentage of material that is to be read from the computer or other on-line sources is also increasing. So in order to be an effective reader in this century, one has to master speed-reading in both forms-reading printed materials and reading on-line.
Improving your reading skills is not an easy task. It requires mastering the correct techniques, discarding the bad reading habits and lots and lots of practice. One needs a lot of patience, willpower and technology to succeed. There are hundreds of books that teach speed-reading. But the books are not suitable for everybody, as it requires a lot of patience and perseverance to read through those books, do the exercises and practice what is written in the books. Also in most cases once you have read the book, you will keep it aside and forget all about speed-reading. What we need is something that is handy, that is always at hand and something that can be used whenever we want. It is in this scenario the usefulness of a speed-reading software program becomes evident. The speed-reading software programs have many advantages over the books-they are easy-to-use, they are always available on the computer, and they are customizable. One can get the feedback almost instantaneously-no more counting of words, no more calculation of the elapsed time, no more use of a stop watch, no more use of clips and markers-all this is done by the computer for you.
AceReader from StepWare, Inc. is an award winning productivity and self-improvement educational reading tool that has been around for sometime. Now the creators of AceReader have released the AceReader Pro series, which has added many impressive features to an already magnificent piece of software.
AceReader and AceReader Pro utilize two technologies-Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP), and Tachistoscopic Scroll Presentation (TSP). In RSVP mode, text is displayed in the center of the text area. RSVP can be used to read faster than normal because your eyes do not need to move-an effective way to prevent the pendulum movement of the head. In RSVP mode, the words come to your eyes instead of your eyes going to the words. In this mode you can increase you fixation span by increasing the number of words that are displayed on the screen at a time. Also all the features like the font size, font color, background color, display parameters, etc. are customizable making AceReader one of the most ergonomically designed speed-reading software program.
When AceReader is in TSP mode, text is displayed in a manner that forces the reader’s eyes to move just like they do in normal reading. TSP can be used to train the reader to read in a normal fashion at higher speeds.
In both the modes AceReader helps in improving the reading speed by reducing regression, increasing fixation span, reducing fixation time and eliminating all forms of vocalization. In today’s computer world where more than 80% of the information is available in the soft form, the AceReader is an invaluable tool for the information worker. It is an ideal tool for students, researchers, executives, and people who deal with vast amounts of information. It is ideal for people who have physical limitations, as in the RSVP mode one can read without moving their head or eyes. Also there are features that help people with poor vision and other problems and dyslexia.
Another important aspect of speed-reading that is addressed in AceReader Pro is the comprehension level of the reader. As we have seen comprehension is as important as speed. AceReader Pro, gives you the facility to test your comprehension after reading a passage, so that you will know how good and effective your reading is. AceReader Pro comes with more than 250 comprehension-enabled passages of varying reading difficulties. This is more than enough to give you a jump-start on your speed-reading training. AceReader Pro also provides the facility to create your own tests and drills. There is also facility to store the results of the drills and tests and view it both in the tabular and graphical forms. This is a very useful feature for students as well as the trainers.
AceReader Pro Deluxe provides you with the readability statistics–Spache grade level, Dale–Chall grade level, Flesch scale, Flesch-Kincaid grade level, and the fantastic Fry Readability graph. This is a very useful feature of the program, as you can assess the readability of the material that you are using for your drills and tests and move from easier topics to difficult ones as you master the techniques.
Studies have revealed that your reading speed on the print media is higher than what you can achieve on the screen. So by training on the computer for higher reading speeds you are gaining two things–the capability to read the on-line material faster and the capability to read the print material even faster!
As a researcher and Industrial engineer, I specialize on productivity improvement methods and devices. I have tried and tested many speed-reading programs. But AceReader Pro helps to improve your reading speed (both online and offline) much faster and with lesser effort. Its ergonomic design, the intelligent user-interface (for example, the program will prompt you to choose the optimum screen settings for each task, if you have not chosen them correctly), and well-written user guide (and on-line help), all helps the user to gain control of his/her speed-reading training much faster than any other program. This is a software program that should be a permanent fixture in your computer as it can deliver dramatic improvements in your productivity and efficiency.
AceReader Pro comes in three versions–AceReader Pro (recommended for single user usage), AceReader Pro Deluxe (recommended for multiple user usage) and AceReader Pro Deluxe Network (recommended for networked reading and lab environments). A very useful feature of the Network version is that students/users do not have to sit in front of the same computer for each session and teachers/trainers can monitor student’s progress from any computer on the network.
Most of you who have seen Star Trek: The next generation must be familiar with the science officer, Lieutenant Commander Data–the android who can be seen looking at the computer screens and assimilating knowledge at astonishingly high speeds. With AceReader Pro and with enough practice, you also could do the same thing!!! So as Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say, “Make it so…”
You can download a 30-day demo version of AceReader Pro from the Stepware Web Site. You can get more details of AceReader and ordering information from the same place.
Alexis Leon is a software consultant, author and researcher. He is the managing director of L and L Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. a company specializing in web design and development and client/server application development and offering consultancy in software engineering, software quality assurance and Industrial engineering. He has written more than 40 books in various computer and management fields like Mainframes, Databases, Internet, SQL, Y2K solutions, ERP, E-commerce, Software configuration management, etc. His books are prescribed text books in many universities and training institutes in India. He holds an M. Tech in Industrial Engineering. He lives in Cochin, Kerala, India. Home page:Alexis’s Ark E-mail: email@example.com