Speed Reading Logs

13 minute read

Stream for speed reading stats ( speed, comments on comprehension and qualitative updates )

INIT : Sat Apr 10 10:16:32 IST 2021 (PINNED)

  • initialized speed reading logs
  • following “Breakthrough Rapid Reading” by Peter Kump
  • practicing daily from 18:00 to 18:45, logging the details from 18:45 onwards
  • evaluation metrics :
    1. WPM : words per min
    2. RI : Retention index (fraction of major ideas retained - subjective)
      • from 7th of MAY 2021
      • REFILED as : RECALL ATTEMPT INDICATOR - indicates whether that run was recall oriented - *‘ed flags indicated a more reliable test : recall being the prime intention


  • efforts fizzled out during the 6th week of training
  • I speed read the last week of the book
  • not the glorious end the book deserves but respectful enough that I stuck with it for 85% along the way
  • this thread’s been hanging unattended for a while now
    • deserves a closure for all the religiously invested effort
    • not a waste, worth it.
    • final review posted here


Date WPM (representative HM) (RI) –> RAI
Wed Jun 2 09:49:40 IST 2021 1848.00 1
Mon May 31 13:50:02 IST 2021 3633.20 0
Tue May 18 19:34:00 IST 2021 2145.00 1
Tue May 18 16:12:41 IST 2021 1628.00 1*
Mon May 17 17:00:53 IST 2021 2178.00 1
Sun May 16 20:11:07 IST 2021 2437.00 1
Fri May 7 20:43:21 IST 2021 1367.00 1
Tue May 4 22:36:22 IST 2021 1412.00 (–) –> 0
Fri Apr 30 19:44:20 IST 2021 1612.00 (–) –> 0
Wed Apr 28 21:07:03 IST 2021 1372.00 (0.60) –> 1
Tue Apr 27 20:17:54 IST 2021 1958.00 (–) –> 0
Fri Apr 23 20:07:29 IST 2021 1210.00 (–) –> 0
Tue Apr 20 19:17:45 IST 2021 1240.00 (0.72) –> 1
Sun Apr 18 19:32:42 IST 2021 995.00 (0.66) –> 1
Thu Apr 15 20:00:19 IST 2021 1311.00 (–) –> 0
Wed Apr 14 18:47:11 IST 2021 827.00 (–) –> 0
Tue Apr 13 18:49:38 IST 2021 689.58 (–) –> 0
Mon Apr 12 18:31:30 IST 2021 366.00 (0.50) –> 1*

Practice Logs

Wed Jun 2 09:49:40 IST 2021

  • speeding up recall oriented hand-movements (personal goal)
    • underlining : 1648.4 -> 1848.0 wpm across the session
    • on new material : with the intention of recall (did not actually recall)
  • The author stated the importance of recall; says:
    • speed reading + recall > reading for all that time
  • Personal updates :
    • focusing when reading is extremely easy
    • longest reading session of 3 hours a week ago on moderately complex material(non-fiction)
    • Even for absolutely complex material (philosophy, academic reads (machine learning), manuals)
      • albeit lower speeds, effortless focus and quickly get what I want according to the preset purpose, rather than drifting off tangents
    • Major Update :
      • overcome the imposter syndrome associated with speed reading:
        • “Are you really reading?”
        • “Do you even remember that 27th word on the 7th paragraph of the 3rd chapter of that edition of that particular book?”
          • Bootstrapping knowledge and meaningfully reiterating is much more fun rather than bull-dozing head first from start to finish.
      • Reading is a much more active activity pursuit than before
    • Speed is not the only thing that this book helps with.

Mon May 31 13:50:02 IST 2021

  • returning to the drills after an unwanted break again
  • on towards the week 5 drills
  • have been practicing with comprehension with my usual readings during the break
  • One paragraph structuring drill (hierarchize from the third sentence) lasting for 15 mins
  • one hand-movement practicing drills for 20 mins:
    • underlining, dusting, slashing, criss-cross
    • purpose : visual reading : final clocked rate : 3633.2 wpm with cumulative recall over all these hand movements
    • Cause of high speeds : visual reading on known material

Tue May 18 19:35:26 IST 2021

  • second practice session the day (20 mins) : Latin has been put on hold until I’m done with this book
  • Author now talks about matching different types of reading to different purposes (note that these definitions are opionated as confessed by the author):
    • linear reading : difficult material
    • skimming : get the gist and cache a mental index of the text : focus on the provided structure to the text (headings et cetera)
      • only to quickly retrieve addresses later on once the purpose is clarified
    • scanning : close to visual reading : already have a purpose : hunt for something
    • visual reading : words are pictures : read in circles or in reverse or as if it’s mandarin(top-down)
      • when you know a lot about what you are reading (fairly common) and just want to fill in gaps of knowledge with new details
      • or : bootstrapping knowledge (quicker and more granulated skimming (skimming on steroids gone rogue))
        • I’ve begun dreaming about parentheses

Tue May 18 16:15:35 IST 2021

  • The mid book test today : a highly recall oriented speed reading session : this is the true growth compared to my initial baseline recorded on 12th Apr.
  • The test was about reading as much as you can for 3 mins and then spending another 6 mins for jotting down the prominences of what you could recollect.
    • satisfied with the performance : 18 pages in 3 mins @ 1628 wpm with a good amount of recall
  • Also started with the week 4 drills and content
  • Author slowly brings in the idea of reading with high recall in complicated and abstract texts : think philosophy.
    • says rates won’t be as high as the superficial stuff but would grow proportionately along with the ceiling : have been experiencing that in my daily reads.
  • Also introduces the notion of visual reading while anticipating what is to come next : analogy of a musician (reads notes before playing them)
    • Involves looking out for certain pivotal phrases/words that indicate the nature of the following prose.
  • finished off with a tagging drill where one has to categorize the third sentence in a hierarchical mannner compared to the first and second sentence of the paragraph
    • randomly picked paragraphs and goes on for 6 mins
    • was the first time : could do only 14 today : comparitively more involved than the other drills

Mon May 17 17:01:18 IST 2021

  • End of week 3 drills, and halfway through the course
  • one recall oriented normal reading session (10 pages in 1.5 mins) clocking in @ 2147 wpm
  • new paragraphing movement introduced to encourage visual cues instead of relying on sub-vocalization
    • along with circling, this aids the brain adapt to consume a group of words as a picture rather than a sequence.
    • is effective and after the initial drill : employing this in regular reads was second nature …
  • Tomorrow : the mid-book test

Sun May 16 20:11:58 IST 2021

  • Took a break from the book for a while
  • was practicing with my daily reading quota itself: the drills have been transferring pretty smoothly
  • as of right now I’m reading a lot of manuals, papers, and a biography : practical speed has definitely improved
  • Today, the author hinted at practicing for speed with comprehension with some children’s books.
    • For me, that boils down to some new-age self-help claiming a quick fix for possibly philosophical issues
    • am surprised : didn’t expect the practical reading off-time to show up as results in the drills
      • One recall-oriented drill clocked in @ 2437 wpm
      • pretty satisfied with today’s recall as well
  • Noticing progress; getting back on track and finishing this off

Fri May 7 20:47:31 IST 2021

  • gotta pickup the habit before I lose it again (this is my second attempt with the book)
  • one recall oriented drill clocked in @ 1367 wpm
  • might double down on the sessions to get this over with quickly : 30 min sessions - twice a day

Fri Apr 30 19:45:12 IST 2021

  • an assortment of mechanical tips were introduced today
    • dusting movement introduced
    • how to relax a (paperback) book : useful
    • how to turn a page
  • done with set of drills for week 2, progressing to week 3
    • took me 18 days : fair enough
  • 1 practice session@1612 wpm sans RI
  • need to keep on pushing through
    • does get boring at times

Wed Apr 28 21:08:03 IST 2021

  • Amping up the difficulty of the practice material
  • picked up some abbreviation heavy management textbooks from my Dad’s old MBA stack
  • 1 final speed drill@1372wpm and RI (0.60)
    • RI is not a very good metric
    • rely on subjective analysis
  • Did scan the upcoming chapters of the book and they seem practical
    • this is not a magic trick
    • some disciplined practice is what it takes : that is good.

Tue Apr 27 20:18:19 IST 2021

  • setting up the meta-base for future comprehension drills
    • one representative run @1958 wpm without RI
    • one para-hunting session @ 22 paras
  • speed drills getting a little more enjoyable
  • fairly strong habit by now but still need to choose to get drilling
    • need to learn how to daemonize these skills without much lack of awareness

Mon Apr 26 21:01:37 IST 2021

  • comprehension drills: using recall
  • no speed runs
  • new recall strategy being employed : referred as “The Magic Line” by the author
  • new para-hunting drills employed : figure out the gist of as many randomly selected paragraphs in 5 mins
    • introducing new log in Progress : 15 today

Fri Apr 23 20:08:04 IST 2021

  • practiced maintaining high speed on new material and in a normal reading environment

Tue Apr 20 19:18:01 IST 2021

  • Comprehension on a steady rise
  • current evaluation is very lenient but somewhat uniform
    • how does one fixate on a particular level of astuteness consistently?
  • 1 drilling session resulting in 1 min read @ 1240wpm and one discourse about having a purpose when reading
    • the more clearly defined the purpose, the better
    • key is to match the correct technique with the material depending on the purpose

Sun Apr 18 19:33:08 IST 2021

  • Comprehension drills incorporated today:
    • involves varying speed corresponding to the structure of the text
    • mostly shifting modes of confirmation of knowns and scanning new information
    • more fun than the usual speed drilling :
      • enhances reading as a non-linear process and is easier to focus through out
        • compared to a consistent effort of maintaining speed and inferring things at the same time
    • Retention index incorporated back and things are getting exciting
    • as expected, the speed dropped but the improvement is going to be cyclic and decoupled so that’s all well

Thu Apr 15 20:00:42 IST 2021

  • drilling time : learning to move fast : RI is out of the picture right now
  • lot of drills and one representative run of 1 min @ 1311 wpm
  • seems odd and feel like a cheat but the author reinstates that drilling should be specific to either speed or comprehension
  • also trying to minimize sub-vocalization and instead start seeing words : building an instantaneous context about a prominent word/phrase in the locality

Wed Apr 14 18:47:41 IST 2021

  • focusing on eliminating regressions and getting used to the right hand as a pacer
  • still not focusing on retention index yet: that has of course taken a temporary hit
    • but the key is to drill these two aspects orthogonally
  • also tried reducing the number of saccades by trying to increase the number of words left out in the beginning and the end of the line
    • this is particularly difficult : have a habit of reading all words
    • occasionally, slips do occur and reinforcing form from the next line is what it’ll take to forge the new habit
  • larger drill session today : four three minute untested runs on the same material to encourage carelessness and practice speed
    • final tested run on new material for three minutes @ 827 wpm, RI not applicable

Tue Apr 13 18:50:03 IST 2021

  • no comprehension evals today : hence RI wasn’t Applicable
  • two runs: 707 and 673 wpm
    • using harmonic mean as representative wpm : 689.58
    • these are rates and arithmetic mean is not appropriate
    • will similarly be using geometric mean for retention index in the future
      • as it’s a ratio
  • using right hand index finger as pacer
    • helps eliminate regressions
    • author encourages to do this everywhere while picking up the skill
      • seems inconvenient given the book is old
  • not focusing on retention index today

Mon Apr 12 18:29:03 IST 2021

  • gauging baseline, no specific techniques employed
  • Baseline Eval:
    1. WPM : 366 wpm
    2. RI : 0.5

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