Is Speed Reading a Sign of Intelligence? (6-Minute Read)
Speed reading allows you to rapidly recognize and absorb phrases on a page all at once, rather than identifying individual words. While there may be no strong and reliable correlation between reading speed and IQ, speed reading is still beneficial in improving one’s level of intelligence.
As it is, there is no clear consensus on whether speed reading is a sign of intelligence. Some experts believe that it is, especially with all the benefits it comes with, like improved memory, logic, and problem-solving skills, while others contend that it is not necessarily indicative of a higher IQ.
That’s why in this post, let us try to go through the details that connect these terms to each other and find out whether there is truly an existing relationship between them.
What is IQ or intelligence?
Merriam Webster defines intelligence in two ways—the ability to learn or understand and the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment. IQ, on the other hand, is a measurement of a person’s perceived relative intellect.
More often than not, intelligence is thought of as a single, fixed trait. However, research has shown that intelligence is actually quite complex and multi-dimensional. This means that there are many different ways to be intelligent.
In fact, intelligence involves a range of cognitive abilities, including memory, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Meanwhile, IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a rating that demonstrates how well you can utilize and integrate data to identify solutions or forecast outcomes. You achieve better IQ scores when you can do something quickly or with fewer resources.
One way to measure intelligence is through IQ tests. Intelligence can also be measured by looking at someone’s academic achievement or their ability to solve real-world problems.
Interestingly, because of its benefits, speed reading can be considered a method of boosting one’s ability to understand written information.
This will be discussed in the latter part of this article.
What is speed reading?
Speed reading is the ability to read text quickly without losing comprehension. It’s a reading technique that involves a variety of strategies, such as skimming and scanning, to identify the most important information in a text.
Speed reading is an incredibly useful skill that can help you save time and get through information more efficiently. However, it’s not just about reading quickly – it’s also about understanding what you’re reading.
Learning this skill has several benefits. It can help you get through information faster, process data more effectively, and retain more details. Speed reading can also be useful for skimming large amounts of text or for when you need to find specific information quickly.
There are a few different techniques you can use to speed read, such as using your finger or a pointer to guide your eyes, moving your eyes in a zigzag pattern, or using a pacer. Practicing these techniques can help you increase your reading speed while still understanding the text.
Does speed reading increase your IQ?
Research indicates that speed reading contributes to a 33.1% increase in reading comprehension. Meaning, people who can read fast without losing comprehension can absorb information fast and potentially gain higher test scores in school.
And this is because speed reading requires the ability to process information quickly and effectively. In addition, it also requires good working memory and attention span.
Since speed reading calls for the capacity to digest information quickly and effectively, most people believe that speed reading is a sign of intelligence.
Moreover, because of the benefits that speed reading comes with, some readers suggest a possible correlation between the two. However, this argument only springs from the fact that reading does increase a person’s intelligence by being exposed to:
- Different terms or vocabulary
- Enhanced memory
- New ideas
- Understanding complex relationships
- Better comprehension
- Brain activity
- A period of relaxation
Is reading speed an indicator of intelligence?
When it comes to published studies, there is no recognized connection between speed reading and IQ or intelligence. If anything, the correlation is not strong enough for it to be considered factual.
But then, just because someone is proficient at speed reading does not imply that this person is necessarily smarter than others.
Still, there are some good reasons to learn speed reading regardless of where you fall on this debate:
- Improved memory, focus, and brain performance. Our brain is trainable because it works like a muscle. If we use and stimulate them often, our brains become much stronger, more attentive, more and functional. Plus, when we concentrate on something, we tend to focus all our attention on it— so biologically, new synapses grow and neural connections go stronger, leading to a better brain performance.
- Enhanced logic. Your brain gets a workout while you read. Amazing things happen when you train your brain to read more quickly. Your ability to organize information and establish connections between different previously stored pieces of knowledge improves. You will naturally see gains in reasoning as you grow acclimated to responding swiftly to situations that before would have taken longer to understand as your reading speed increases.
- Better problem-solving skills. Speed reading provides your subconscious mind with an opportunity to find solutions. New ideas gained from speed reading are sent to the subconscious, which it uses to address your difficulties or concerns.
Is speed reading a talent or a skill that can be learned?
Speed reading takes practice and concentration, but it’s definitely possible to improve your speed and comprehension with some focus and effort. You can start by increasing your base reading speed day by day, using a guide while you read to help you focus, and reading only with your mind.
Anyone can learn how to speed read with adequate focus and determination. To improve your reading speed, you can apply different reading techniques like skimming, scanning, and chunking.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start by finding a comfortable speed that you can maintain for long periods of time. This is your “base” speed and will be different for everyone. Once you have your base speed, you can start working on increasing it bit by bit.
- Try using a finger or a pen as a guide while you read. This can help keep your eyes from wandering and help you focus on each word.
- Don’t read out loud, even if it feels strange at first. This can slow down your speed and comprehension by forcing you to “hear” what you’re reading in your head.
- Take short breaks often to avoid getting tired or losing focus. Stand up, stretch, or take a quick walk around the block—anything to refresh your mind and body.
- Practice makes perfect! The more you speed read, the better you’ll get at it. So find some extra time in your day to squeeze in some extra reading practice.
You can also try different reading techniques to learn speed reading faster:
- Skimming. This method of speed reading entails swiftly scanning a page to identify key information and make note of it while disregarding all the other minor data. Skimming can also help you get an overview of a text and understand the main ideas without having to read every word.
- Scanning. Scanning is a technique in speed reading that can help you read faster by moving your eyes across a text in a quick, linear motion.
- Chunking. This approach is reading the book in segments after breaking it up into manageable chunks.
Do gifted people read faster than the average person?
Bruno de Souza, a professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco, created an experiment while serving as a consultant for private high schools in Brazil.
Souza’s study demonstrated that an individual with an IQ of 126 or higher can often learn in one hour what it would take someone with an IQ in the standard range 4-5 hours to learn.
This means that gifted people can truly read and understand faster than an average person.
Although there is no conclusive link between speed reading and intelligence, learning this skill is still instrumental in enhancing one’s level of intelligence.
Given all the advantages that speed reading offers— such as better memory, focus, brain performance, logic, and problem-solving abilities— knowing how to read and grasp information this fast can undeniably improve a person’s cognitive abilities.
Research has determined a 33.1% increase in the reading comprehension of speed readers, which proves that speed reading does help in improving academic performance.
But learning speed reading is not easy. You need to invest your time and effort into it. In fact, you also need to establish discipline within yourself as it requires constant practice and concentration.
Lastly, though speed reading is a skill often exhibited by intelligent and gifted people, this does not mean that a speed reader is automatically better than others. Anyone can learn how to speed read with adequate focus and determination, and everyone can use a speed reading tool anytime.
Iris Reading teaches speed reading & memorization techniques to students and professionals worldwide.
So if you’re interested in improving your memory, you can either learn how to maximize your memory here, or sign up for a speed reading course today.