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Is it possible to increase your memory retention and reading speed to read a 200 page book in just a couple of hours?

It seems that it takes hours and hours to complete a reading assignment and I can never remember all that I have read. I have been told that the speed at which a person reads is something non-alterable, but I am sure that there is a way to be able to read faster and retain more information so as to be more successful. memory reading

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Shyam’s Answer

Hi Ashley,

There are many age old myths and cognitive biases about reading and retention of the information that you may come across. Myths such as "The speed at which a person reads is something non-alterable" are not only incorrect, but also very prevalent which may discourage young readers. It is important to remember that these are myths for a reason. Case in point being your pedagogical growth as a learner.

As a kid you tend to read slower and focus more on the enunciation and phonetics rather than the grasping the intent. As you get more comfortable and used to reading on a regular basis, you go through a cognitive shift and focus more towards grasping the intent of what you are reading.

In any case to cut a long story short, there are many techniques that help you read faster. Some of these techniques employ visual aids (a pen or highlighter or a card used as a line-focus). Others use cognitive techniques such mind mapping the concept being read and use of initialization to remember a difficult phrase or sentence. I completely agree with Katie's recommendations for the next steps. To get an idea of prevalent and proven techniques, I would recommend "How to read faster and better" by Norman Lewis (the author of best selling Word Power made Easy). The techniques I learnt in this book radically transformed my reading speed and approach. It also enhanced my retention drastically. Try out different techniques till you fixate on one that works best for you.

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Katie’s Answer

While I can't offer advice on how to read faster, I will pass on some words of wisdom about retaining information. I had a high school teacher who used to tell us that if we were not reading with a pen in our hands we were not doing it right. Anytime I am reading to digest the information, I do so with a highlighter and pen to make notes in the margins. I more likely to remember information that I have interacted with in some ways.


Visual cues have always helped me to retain information. I know people that are more likely to retain information that they have read out loud, and others who write key phrases over and over to help them retain information.

Katie recommends the following next steps:

Reflect on your study skills. What has worked best for you in the past? How do you replicate that moving forward?
Try out some different techniques. You may not have discovered the best way for you to study. Do you need complete silence or does soothing music help you retain more?
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