Having a guide in reading has been a method used since it was first taught in pre-school years. We were told to point our fingers on the word we were reading so as not to get lost in the text. For speed reading, using a guide is for the purpose of maximizing the efficiency of the eyes. You can use different objects to serve as your guide but often the hand and fingers are sufficient enough.
Evelyn Wood, “the Pioneer of Speed Reading”, developed this method and eventually it has been called it metaguiding.2 Now it’s also named the pacing method. She discovered the technique by accident as she was picking up a book she threw on the floor because of frustration about her slow reading speed. She brushed off the dirt from the pages of the book and when her hand moved across the page she caught her eyes following the gesture and focusing better at the page. This started the development of this speed reading technique which is still effective until now, especially for beginners.
Over the years, several variations on the metaguiding technique1 have been developed and all are as effective as the original one. You may use either one or all of them as you move on your learning.
This is very simple since all you need to do is to place your hand on the page and move it across the sentences. You’ll notice that you are able to focus your vision. You may vary your hand position and movement. You can also cup your fingers ensuring that all of them are aligned with the index finger just left out a little. You can do this position and drag your hand over 3 or more words at a time. Again, don’t try to read very fast immediately. You may do it slowly first then increase your pace as you get better because you are developing faster comprehension at the same time. The dragging motion can be from left to right or from top to bottom.
This method is almost the same as the sweeping method but this time the fingers and hand are lifted by the arms in a hopping motion. Your aim here is to read blocks of text or a set of 3 to 10 words at a time then jump your hand over the next block giving your eyes its fixation. You will be able to gain a steady pace by doing this but use your arm to move the hand over the page and not the wrist to reduce the risk of injury. And like sweeping do this method with a slow pace first then as you practice more, steadily increase your speed.
The Zig-Zag or Loop
This method is just like scanning wherein the main idea is to get and understand the main ideas in the material. The movement of the cupped hand now will be diagonally wherein you will need to catch 3 lines in a paragraph then move on to the next one, making an invisible zig-zag on the page. This is good for easy material or one which has a subject which you are already familiar with but for harder or new material try to use the methods mentioned earlier.
This method or tool is best used to maintain one’s focus on the set of words or sentences. Instead of the hand, a card or a piece of paper is used to cover the words which have been read already. This helps break the habit of rereading. You can move the card with a pace just like that in the sweeping method.
Practice is the main key to all these methods and you may apply one or all as you see fit with your capacity.