HOW TO LEARN FASTER
Howard Stephen Berg Director, Berg, Beasley, & Associates, LLC.
The Worlds Fastest Reader (Guinness, 1990)
With Comments by: Dr. Kuni Michael Beasley
Member, Berg, Beasley, & Associates, LLC Dean, Gateway Preparatory School, Inc.
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This document is made available to the receiver to download and print for personal use only. No part of this work may be copied, duplicated, or distributed in any manner without written permission from Berg, Beasley, & Associ-
ates, LLC. All Rights Reserved Berg, Beasley, & Associates, LLC. 2007
Introduction to Speed Reading
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ore information is published each week than in all of human history through the
year 1800; yet, the average reading speed is only 200 wpm with a mere 10% being
retained into long-term memory. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, I can read this
entire pageand another as well. Recognized as the worlds fastest reader (Guinness, 1990), I
will help you learn to read faster so you can complete your assignments quickly and easily, and
still find time for things that you enjoy.
THE ROOTS OF SLOW READING
You already possess the ability to rapidly read essential information. It is an innate abil-
ity. Let me prove this to you. Think about how much information your brain must process while
driving an automobile on a highway. It must view and analyze the motions of the surrounding
cars, road conditions, weather conditions, read signs, and at the same time avoid hitting animals
or people who might cross the road. Instead of being overwhelmed by all this information you
become so bored that you might turn on the radio, talk to other passengers, or make cell phone
calls. If your brilliant brain is so adept at swiftly reading a road during a drive, then why cant it
read text just as quickly and easily? The answer is simple. Instead of seeing a book during read-
ing, your brain hears a voice that pronounces the word sounds printed on the page. Quite simply,
you dont see a bookyour hear it. Yet, vision is faster and more powerful than hearing. By
becoming a more visual reader you will instantly increase your reading speed. Lets begin this
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BECOMING A MORE VISUAL READER
Watch a child read and what do you see? You see them reading words one letter at a
time, such as D O G spells dog. As an adult, your brain barely notices the letters appearing on
the page. Instead you see entire words like dog, or even entire phrases like hot dog, ice
cream, or United States of America. United States of America contains four distinct words,
almost the width of an entire column in a textbook or newspaper. If you can see four words then
why cant you see entire lines, sentences, paragraphs, or even an entire page at a glance? You
can! You just need a simple system that improves your brains visual reading efficiency. The
first step is understanding how your magnificent brain is decoding text on the unconscious level.
Once you become conscious of this unconscious activity you will be able to speed it up to a
higher reading speed still being able to comprehend, store, and recall essential information.
As a student, I trained to become a Psychobiologist at the State University of New York at
Binghamton. During my studies, I learned how our brain uses Schema, or more simply, our map
of the world, whilst decoding text. Each of us has a lifetime of experiences stored in our mem-
ory map. Stored experiences that writers expect us to possess and use while reading.
Lets use an example to learn how you use Schema to interpret text. Imagine I wrote a
story and told you, The woman wore a red dress. I would expect you to know what I meant by
the word woman. As a reader you dont expect me to explain to you that a woman is a female.
You already know this information. You are using your Schema or life database to read this text.
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Probably the best way to demonstrate Schemas important role in making text meaningful
is by giving you a paragraph to read that is completely lacking any Schematic clues. Although
the words in this passage taken from my Mega Speed Reading Program are simple and familiar
you will find them almost impossible to read:
This is an easy thing to do. If possible you will do it at home, but you can always go
somewhere else if it is necessary. Beware of overdoing it. This is a major mistake and
may cost you quite a bit of money. It is far better to do too little than attempt to do too
much. Make sure everything is properly placed. Now you are ready to proceed. The next
step is to put things into another convenient arrangement. Once done youll probably
have to start again real soon. Most likely, youll be doing this for the rest of your life
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Its pretty tough decoding this text since it lacks any Schematic clues. Did you guess that
this paragraph is discussing doing a load of laundry? Picture the word laundry printed right
about this text as a single word title, and read this passage once again. Isnt it amazing how
much clearer this passage becomes simply by adding a single Schematically significant word?
Even a single Schematic clue can make text understandable. From this example it is clear that
Schema plays a major role in making text meaningful, but how do you know where to look for
Schematic clues while reading?
How To Use
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J ust what constitutes Schematic clues in text? Both nouns and verbs in text constitute its Schematic clues. Nouns offer information about the people, places, and things while verbs describe any actions that are taking place. The first step towards increasing your reading
speed is to make a habit of looking for the people, places, and things doing the activities. Fortu-
nately your brain is well suited for selectively filtering any information that you consciously
command it to detect. Let me prove this to you with a simple experiment:
Take a look about you and make a mental picture of all the red objects you can see. Look very carefully and make a detailed map of these items.
Next, close your eyes and picture everything around you that is colored blue. Notice what you brain just did? It said, Wait a minute, you told me to look for red, so
how am I suppose to remember anything colored blue? Your brilliant brain searches and finds
exactly what you tell it to look at. The same thing transpires while reading. You must tell your
brain to look for people, places, and things, and their actions; and it will seek and it will find
There are some very useful filters that instantly empower your brain with the ability to
spot important Schematic information. These are the same filters you were taught to use in
school when writing. These filters are the questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
While reading you must constantly ask yourself these questions to get the following re-
WHO is this about WHAT is this about WHY is this happening WHERE is this taking place
WHEN is this occurring WHY is this important HOW can I use this information
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A simple and effective way for remembering this information is to picture these key
questions floating in your mind on cartoon shaped balloons linked to their appropriate data. The
more visual you make your important information the faster you will be able to read and later
For example, if I read about Paul Revere riding his horse to warn the Minute Men about
the impending British invasion during the American Revolution, then I would do the following:
I see Paul Reveres name pasted on my WHO balloon, I paste a picture of him warning the minutemen on my WHAT balloon, I see him riding into the woods on my WHERE balloon. It is during the American Revolution so I paste this on my WHEN balloon He does this because he is a patriot so I paste this on my WHY balloon. Paul is using a horse to accomplish his task so this gets pasted on my HOW balloon.
The following is a graphic illustration of what I am suggesting you do in your imagination:
Now that you can easily spot Schematic clues you will learn how to use these clues to in-
crease your reading speed.
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Increasing Your Reading Speed
I n the last two chapters, I have shared with you the importance of Schema in making text meaningful. Now lets learn how to use Schematic clues to increase reading speed. Consider this very important statement: authors publish text for a group of people, but you must
read that text as an individual. A writer offers all the information he/she believes that anyone
reading their text might require, because a writer cant anticipate what every possible readers
map of a subject might contain. On the other hand you tend to read text on subjects that are rele-
vant to your work or hold special interest to you. This means that you often have a map of many
of the important points found in many of the texts you must read, and you can use this map or
Schema to reach incredibly high speeds in much of your reading.
Ironically, many individuals actually slow down when encountering familiar or easy ma-
terial. It is human nature to seek out and feel comfortable with familiar surroundings. For ex-
ample, what might happen if you were reading a really complicated, boring, and challenging
Chemistry text, and then found a really interesting, familiar, and easy section in that text. Would
you be in a hurry to finish this easy and interesting portion of the text so you could focus upon
difficult and boring information, or might you spend more time that you should staying in this
comfortable and familiar text?
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Most people make the mistake of wasting valuable reading time focused upon things they
already know, rather than productively using their time to learn new and necessary information.
You wont make this mistake ever again. In the future, as soon as you spot familiar or easy in-
formation, you will increase your reading speed and use your time to learn new, unfamiliar, im-
portant information. There are many significant applications of this in business that I would like
to share with you.
Imagine you are reading your daily newspaper. In business, it is essential to stay on top
of timely and important information. Yet, you often hear the news on the radio on the drive to
work, or perhaps view it on television. By the time you read the newspaper, much of the infor-
mation it contains has already been learned. Spend more time on the news that you didnt know
about, and you will find yourself becoming a more productive newspaper reader. This is a skill
Ive shared with companies like Prudential Realty. Information changes daily in real estate, and
good brokers search for leads in the newspapers, while keeping abreast of economic changes and
changes in the law that can affect their industry. They know that failure to keep abreast can hurt
their bottom line just as using that information correctly can increase their profitability. This
same principal holds true for newsletters, and magazines that often contain sections of very fa-
Your daily mail and e-mail are other areas where you can put this reading strategy into
practice. Many executives have their mail screened by others, because they dont have the time
to pore through a pile of unopened mail. How often has someone made a poor judgment call and
not shown you a piece of mail that you would have judged important? Scan your mail swiftly
looking for things that require your personal attention, or letters that are responding to your per-
sonal requests. Look for mail that can be tossed, postponed, or delegated to someone else.
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Using Schematic clues you will find yourself quickly getting through your mail more ef-
ficiently than any assistant could possible accomplish. During a recent program I gave in Mont-
real for Cisco systems, I was told how they were receiving as many as 300 e-mails a day that se-
riously compromised their time and efficiency. Learning to speed read their e-mail greatly cut
down on this waste of their time. Ironically, many of the e-mails were sent simply to notify peo-
ple that a letter was on the way. You can significantly cut down on this waste in your company
by making people aware that they should either send their letter by e-mail, or use the regular
mail. Have them stop cluttering up your associates time by sending e-mails announcing that
regular mail is on the way!
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The Schematic technique we have just learned works well for familiar or easy material,
but not everything you read is easy or familiar material. We need a different strategy for speed
reading unfamiliar information. It is important to remember that only about 40% of a text is in-
formation, and that the rest is explanation. Explanations take the form of stories, anecdotes, ex-
amples, and illustrations. Writers use these structures to clarify, simplify, and exemplify the in-
formation they are offering to you. However, you will often find that you understand points
made in text and dont require any additional assistance. When this happens, you can quickly
skim these embellishments and move onto the next new and significant point in your text. Only
when you find yourself confused or unable to understand a technical point should you take ad-
vantage of the extra information the writer included to help make difficult text easier for you to
Increasing Your Emotional
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L et me give you an example of how to use Schema to speed up your reading in unfamiliar material. One of the most suc...