Put Your Finger on the Test Page

Katya , 08-16-2017

For some ODD reason, every time I offer this little pearl of wisdom to a student, I’m inevitably greeted with looks that range from dubious to downright offended.

I can almost hear the person think, “But that’s what I did in first grade. Putting your finger on the page is for little kids. Doesn’t Erica get that I’m taking this test to get into college? I thought she was smarter than that. Besides, everyone will think that I look stupid!”

Guess what: not a single other test-taker in the room with you cares in the least whether you put your finger on the page or not. Everyone will be so focused on their own work that they won’t have space in their brains to worry about what you’re doing.

According to the prepscholar website, almost 40% of mistakes are caused by misreading the question!

If you haven’t taken my Speed Reading Program Hand pacing is an effective speed reading technique to instantly increase reading speed as well as improve comprehension. It’s an easy to learn method and involves using your index finger or a pointer to move along or below the lines while reading.

From my experience this method is the quickest way to have your reading performance improved. I have been practicing it for years and it helps keep my focus and quickly skim articles for an overview.

It is a natural and human tendency to detect moving objects. Please consider this example: Imagine you are watching TV. There is a window right next to where you sit. Even though you are indulged in your favorite show you would spot a bird or person passing that window. It’s a natural behaviour and even our ancestors, the early humans, were required to detect movement of predators in order to survive. This inherent skill we can use for learning to read faster.

Whether you consider yourself a slow, fast or passive reader, a moving pointer will help force your eyes to follow and process the words appearing in the focus area. Allow your eyes to move smoothly to train eye coordination and change existing habits of bad eye movement.

Hand pacing is not just about moving a tool underneath a line. You certainly need to teach your eyes to follow your pointer as well. And, though it’s easy to learn, it may require some practice and patience.

There are also advanced pacing variants such as vertical, serpentine or zigzag style that can be perfectly used with previewing or word group techniques to really master your reading experience. One key to success is to make pacing a daily routine and to practice till you get better at it.

First try the pointer technique and give it a week to get familiar with. You can use it for books as well as for tablet PC reading. My tip: Don’t be shy to use this method in the library, public transport or in a park.

Below, I will explain how pacing works.

  1. Sit in a 45 degree angle. Sit comfortable. Put your elbow on your table.
  2. Use one hand to hold your material.
  3. Use a pointer or your left/right index finger.
  4. Position pointer under the first word. Start pacing yourself by moving along the lines.
  5. Your eyes concentrate on the pointer and the words.
  6. Keep moving the pointer while reading. Go to the next line once you are finished.
  7. Your index finger determines your reading speed and focus.
  8. Adjust speed according to your comprehension.
  9. Adjust speed according to your comprehension.


  1. Your motion is continuous and free flowing.
  2. Slow down to handle more difficult reading material.
  3. Focus on your eyes and concentrate on the words coming into focus.
  4. Coax your brain to go faster and allow it to do the rest.
  5. Start again when realizing you stopped self pacing.

Advanced variations

Card – Use a card instead of a pointer or finger. The card works for some by helping you focus more and keeping your eyes on the reading material.

Zig Zag – This method involves you to move your pointer or finger diagonally about three lines and then going back. It’s like scanning a larger area, it is an advance technique and I would not recommend you using it in the beginning.

The Sweep – Imagine that you are dusting sugar off your page, use a cupped hand while keeping your fingers together and sweep from left to right

Your Assignment

  1. Choose your reading material. Any book or magazine will do.
  2. Start practicing, use hand pacing technique slowly for the first page.
  3. Apply it for at least seven days before using any other technique.
  4. You can use the mouse pointer when reading online.
  5. Try to go as fast as you can to get the hang of it.
  6. Try it in public and resist the feeling of being watched. Try to concentrate and do not be pressured.