Is Speed Reading a Myth? (Important Facts) | Iris Reading
Is Speed Reading a Myth?

Is Speed Reading a Myth? (Important Facts)

Is Speed Reading a Myth?

Speed reading, which is reading chunks of words at a go without losing comprehension, is an appealing skill. Everyone wants to read a book, web page, or publication in less time to improve time management skills.

Speed reading is not a myth. It’s possible to accelerate your reading speed by practicing, reading chunks of words faster, reading more to add to your visual dictionary, and eliminating subvocalization.

Students studying for an exam don’t want to take much time going through topics. Slow readers, content creators, and professionals like doctors who must take in lots of content from publications don’t have the time to go through text word by word.  

If you want to end the bad habit of scrolling headlines and subheadings and skipping much of the informative content because there is no time to read everything, this article is for you.

It will be refreshing to achieve a balance between speed reading and reading comprehension if you follow the guidelines below.

This post debunks speed reading myths, explaining why speed reading is possible. We also offer speed reading techniques to practice improving your speed reading skill.

Is speed reading possible?

Speed reading is possible, and famous speed readers like Bill Gates, Ann Jones, and Howard Berg are living proof. Still, it needs lots of practice and a thirst to read widely to grow on your general knowledge. There are also techniques and tools you can use to help you speed read. We cover these below.

It is easier to speed-read words you have seen before

The more you see a word, the easier it is for your brain to process and quickly decipher its contextual meaning. That’s why speed-reading text that you are familiar with is more effortless.

Technical texts require you to slow down to understand the text you are reading because you keep looking up words and cannot guess their meaning. You’ll also keep rereading for better comprehension.

Training the eyes and the brain increases your reading speed

The average reader reads 4 to 5 words per eye fixation. With the help of speed reading tools, you can practice reading 7 to 8 words per eye fixation. It also helps stop the regression habit, which slows you down.

With practice, you learn how to stop sounding words as you read them or reading passages word for word. 

The brain is a muscle and can get used to processing 400 words per minute from a mere 200-250 wpm, improving your concentration and memory.

People who may find speed reading hard

Speed reading is possible and easy to learn. Some people, however, have difficulty speed reading: people with short attention spans, poor reading comprehension skills, difficulty understanding content quickly, and limited visual dictionaries.

While it is possible to master speed reading in two weeks to one month, those with short attention spans will find it difficult to speed read. 

If you too have short attention span, and it’s not caused by an illness, train yourself to shut off the technological noise and concentrate on speed reading, or take an online Personal Productivity Course to help you focus better.

People with poor comprehension skills should read widely, exposing themselves to different genres while practicing good reading comprehension strategies.

Seven-speed reading techniques to increase your reading speed

Speed reading techniques train the brain to function faster, accelerating your reading speed to three times more than the average 250 words per minute. The best advice from speed reading experts is to practice more for consistent results.

1. Moving your finger as a hand pacer

The simplest method to read faster is to use your index finger or a pen as a guide to pace your eyes as you read. We learned it in elementary school but currently do not use it. Move your finger left to the right alongside a sentence or in a zigzag as you read.  

Once you’ve mastered that method, you can try using two fingers to guide your eyes. However, use two bounces on each line instead of a continuous motion. It’s more sophisticated and quicker, but how quickly you can hop without losing meaning depends on how well you read in chunks.

2. Using a pacemaker or a tracker 

This method is similar to the pointer method using your hand. Move your eyes along with the tracker/pacer across lines, avoiding rereading. Naturally, we tend to go back to read texts already read and, in the process, subvocalize and slow down. 

3. Using a speed reading tool

Use a Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation like Accelareader to improve your reading speed. The tool will flash words at a set speed, and your speed reading skills will improve with practice.

You copy and paste a passage, set the words per minute and the number of words or chunks you want flashing, and click start to begin. You can also change the font size as you like. RSVP tools help you stop going back to the text to reread.

4. Practice good reading habits

The more you read, the better you get at reading faster and effectively. 

Build your vocabulary through exposure to different kinds of texts and different writing styles. You train your brain to stop poor habits like reading aloud and subvocalizing as you read.

To stop subvocalization, chew as you read, hum a tune, or increase your reading speed. 

5. Chunking or reading words in chunks

Reading in chunks reduces eye fixations per line. Group easy-to-read words (3 to 4 for a novice) and read in blocks, not word-by-word. Focus in the middle of each line when reading. 

When you reduce the number of times your eyes land on each line, you force your brain to absorb visual information meaningfully without sounding the words out. Use the pointer method together with this for faster reading.

Remember to visualize word chunks to improve retention. Digesting text blocks saves reading time and speeds up reading and learning.

6. Skimming and scanning

Skimming and scanning are text previewing techniques to determine text relevance to your reading purpose. Both help you know what to skip and read, as there’s no time to read every word unless it’s essential.

Scan for repeated words, keywords, and primary ideas. Subheadings, titles, figures, maps, table of contents, graphs, and illustrations help you scan text.

Skimming involves reading the initial paragraphs to gain a sense of the content, then scanning the topic and concluding sentences without reading the entire text. 

An abstract or an executive summary also helps you anticipate what is in the text, so you know where to focus reading without getting lost in the nitty-gritty.

7. Enlarge your font

Speed reading is easier and faster when the words in print are larger. Practice using printed text in a larger form for faster results.

Myths about speed reading

Speed reading misconceptions are many and probably hold you back from learning the skill. Let’s dissect each of them.

You’ll pay a huge lump sum to get started

The notion that speed reading is an expensive affair is common, and unfortunately, it holds people who haven’t researched enough back. It’s a myth because you can get started with this free mini course by Iris Reading that will teach speed reading techniques. 

When you speed read, you skip words

That is a wrong notion. Speed readers read words in clusters or groups without skipping any. They do not read word for word.

Reading comprehension and retention is not possible when you speed read

Speed reading forces you to concentrate on what you’re reading. Reading more than one word at a time rather than one word after another improves comprehension. You can learn more words by reading them in context.

Reading at a slow pace does not help comprehension. Conversely, it can limit your ability to comprehend the content. 

How well you understand what you read is determined more by your ability to extract and remember information than by how rapidly you read it. 

Only talented people can speed read

Speed reading is a skill that anyone can learn after practice. It is not a gift or talent.

Anyone who desires to learn the speed reading skill can excel at it. No one is born knowing how to read. We learn through instruction and practice.

You must use the hand pointer or tracker/pace-marker method to speed read

The myth that you must use a hand pointer or pacemaker when speed reading is partly true and partly fiction. As a beginner, you’ll use the tracker or pacer method to track what you’re reading. After you get used to speeding reading, you drop this habit.

You don’t enjoy reading when you speed read

That’s a myth because you still enjoy your book when you speed read. Speed reading increases reading comprehension and concentration, reviving the thirst to read more.

Speed reading is a myth and a waste of time

Speed reading is possible, depending on reading intent, text difficulty, and exposure. We have already proven that speed reading is possible, it’s not a waste of time, and anyone can learn it. There are even standardized tests for the skill measuring comprehension percentage and readers’ words per minute.

Final thoughts

Speed reading is not a myth. How well-read you are, your comprehension and text reading pace, and the speed at which you connect what you’re reading with prior knowledge influence speed reading.

It is a skill you can learn and perfect using the right speed reading techniques. Speed reading techniques help you learn and master the skill. Making a mind map as a preview of the text before delving in is one strategy utilized by fast readers. Skimming is another skill gained by speed readers that aids in comprehending any content.

You can start learning the skill today with the Iris Reading Speed Reading Foundation Course, where you learn both speed reading techniques and strategies to enhance reading comprehension.

Is Medical School Just Memorization? (Explained for Beginners)
Why Do I Remember Everything? (Hyperthymesia Explained!)