Known for her pioneering methods in speed reading. She was born in Logan, Utah in 1909, received her B.A. in English from the University of Utah in 1929, and became a school teacher and a researcher.
Evelyn began to study Reading while she was a teacher, she was committed to understanding why some people were naturally faster at reading, she tried to read very quickly also. While brushing off the pages of a book she had thrown down in despair, she discovered that the sweeping motion of her hand across the page caught the attention of her eyes, and helped them move more smoothly across the page. She then began establishing her own methods of using a finger or pointer to trace lines of text while eliminating sub-vocalizing which causes to increase speed over the average reading rate while increasing retention. She also discovered that faster readers were more effective readers.
Evelyn was capable of reading 2,700 words a minute, often sharing the traits of reading down the page rather than left to right, reading groups of words or complete thoughts rather than single words, avoiding involuntary rereading of material and applying their efficiency to varied material. She first taught the method at the University of Utah, and published her own book, Reading Skills in 1959. She and her husband, Doug Wood, started the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics business. Her classes were advertised on television in the 1960s and 1970s, the methods were also taught on college campuses in the United States until the late 1990s. One of Wood’s speed reading students claimed that she could read 689-page novel Gone with the Wind in less than one hour.
How important is speed reading?
Most of us tend to read at about 200-400 words per minute, speed readers claim to hit around 1000-1700 words per minute. Speed readers supposedly shorten how long they fixate on a word. They tend to do this by cutting down on sub-vocalization. When you read at 200 words per minute, a 1000-words will take you five minutes. Now imagine that you double your reading speed suddenly that 1000-word article only takes you two and a half, or just a minute. Being able to double the typical reading speed of the average person does not sound like much, but when you are bombarded with thousands of words to read a day, you almost magically have a lot more time to work on your school work, or important projects in your professional environment.
What are the strategies of Evelyn Wood’s Speed Reading System?
There are more than two strategies in Speed Reading but the two most commonly known and used are Skimming and Scanning. These two Speed Reading methods are used for different purposes, they are the fast end of the speed reading range, while studying is at the slow end. People who use these techniques are flexible readers, they do not read everything which is what increases their reading speed. They read according to their purpose and get the information they need quickly without wasting time.
Skimming looks only for the general or main ideas, and work best with non-fiction material. Though your overall understanding is reduced because you do not read everything it is still an effective tool you can use to read more in less time.
How to skim
Look at the title, subheadings, pictures, diagram and else stands out on the page. Read the first and last paragraphs of the chapter because they often contain key information. Read the first sentence of each paragraph, try to restate what you read in your own words. Read word, sentences or phrases in bold or italic type. These words and terms usually are important to understand and remember. Try to read the text quickly, but pay attention to what you pick up in the process. Focus on the nouns and verbs. Skimming can usually be accomplished at about 1000 words per minute, it will help you locate the information quickly while making sure you use your time wisely.
How to scan
Scanning looks only for a specific fact or piece of information without reading everything.
Scanning is very useful for finding a specific name, date, statistics, or fact without reading the entire article, it also allows you to fine details and other information in a hurry.
Keep in mind at all times what it is you are searching for. If your hold the image of the word or idea clearly in mind, it is likely to appear more clearly than the surrounding words. Let your eyes run rapidly over several lines of print at a time. When you find the sentence that has the information you seek, read the entire sentence. In scanning, you must be willing to skip over large sections of text without reading or understanding them. Learning to use your hands while scanning is very helpful in locating specific information. Your peripheral vision can also help you scan effectively. When your hand moves down a list of names, you see not only the name your finger is pointing to, but also the names above and below. Let your eyes work for you when searching for information. Scanning can be done at 1500 or more words per minute.