Known for her pioneering Speed Reading System. 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 Wood began to study reading while she was a teacher. She wanted to understand 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/pointer to trace lines of text while eliminating sub-vocalizing. This method 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. She often read down the page rather than left to right, reading groups of words or complete thoughts rather than single words. Evelyn also avoid 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, and 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-word 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 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 Skimming and Scanning are the two most commonly known and used. These two Speed Reading Systems 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.
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. Also, read those 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 will help you locate the information quickly while making sure you use your time wisely. You can read 1000 words per minute.
Skimming looks only for the general or main ideas, and work best with non-fiction material. An effective tool you can use to read more in less time.
How to scan
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 you 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. You can read 1500 or more words per minute.
Evelyn Wood is considered to be the inventor of speed reading. Before Evelyn Wood speed reading was completely unknown. In the 1950s, she was one of the first individuals to put her ideas about reading quickly down in writing. In them, she discussed some of the basic reading techniques that we often mention on this site. Including things like using your finger to pace your reading. And, sub-vocalization, though she called it “reading without sounding words” at the time.
Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Today
In general, the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Courses are given in seminar format. In which you spend three long days being trained in the art of speed reading. The first day is usually spent discovering reasons why you read slowly, and doing some basic testing and reading exercises. The second and third days are spent discussing how texts are organized. Plus, how you can easily pick out which sections you need to read and which you can skip.
By the end of the three days, they state that most individuals are reading six times faster than they were at the beginning of the course and with a 5-15% increase in their reading comprehension. This is not a really amazing claim that is being made by the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading people, which is a refreshing change from what you typically see in other, over-hyped programs.
Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Problems
Her course has not evolved all that much over the course of 60 years. Reading tests and materials are often given in pen-and-paper form, timed with stopwatches, and much of the calculations required are done by hand. This makes the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class a little dated, but still worthwhile.
Overall, we found Evelyn Wood Speed Reading to be a pretty good course, but a little behind the times. Today, for instance, we know that reading while dragging a pen across the page is a good technique for reading quickly at first, but can eventually become a crutch that limits you from reading as fast as you can. And, can sometimes cause you to read very poorly when you don’t have one of the instruments in your hand, or you cannot find a way to scroll across the page (as if you were reading a sign or poster).