Why is My Reading Speed So Slow? | Iris Reading

Why is My Reading Speed So Slow?

Why Is My Reading Speed So Slow?

Does it seem it takes a month for you to read a novel? Did it seem that others would get through their learning materials incomparably faster than yourself in school and college? Have you ever wondered why your reading speed is so slow?

You are not alone. Many people struggle with slow reading. Luckily, the reason is not in some inborn inability to comprehend a text quickly. You merely acquired habits that hamper your reading speed.

If you wonder how to read faster, we have the answer. Read on to find out:

  • What slow, average, and speed-reading is
  • How slow reading may be affecting you
  • The leading causes of slow reading
  •  How to read faster


What is slow, average, and speed-reading?

Are you a slow reader? How to know what is standard and what is too sluggish?

A massive 2019 study analyzed the findings of 190 reports published over the last hundred years. The results yielded a number that marks the regular reading speed for people in the 20th/21st century. On average, adults read at a rate of 238 words per minute.

Yet, there are vast variations between individuals. Interestingly, the same study also determined that our reading speed seems to be slowing down. A few decades ago, people read more quickly.

In the 2020s, the average reading speed is closer to 150-250 words per minute. For college-educated individuals, it is around 250-300 words per minute. 

Therefore, when you struggle to read at the average pace, you could be a slow reader.

In contrast, speed-reading is achieved when you manage to read significantly more words than the average.

Speed-reading courses and techniques enable you to boost your reading speed considerably. At Iris Reading, we focus on developing tools to help you not merely increase the word count per minute. We design courses that teach you to increase comprehension and retention while reading significantly faster, too.

However, is it even possible to think about becoming a speed-reader when you currently need to dedicate weeks to reading a book?

Most definitely YES! As an example, our AccelaReader app was designed to help you increase your reading speed by 50%. You do not need any formal speed-reading training to use it. Think of it as a starting point for developing basic speed-reading skills. It is fully customizable so that you can gradually increase your speed-reading abilities.

We will be talking more about how to transform from a slow reader to a speed reader shortly. First, let us touch upon how slow reading might be affecting your life adversely.


How slow reading may be affecting you

Whether you are aware of it or not, sluggish reading has been impacting you. You might not have thought of it, but slow reading could have shaped your relationship with others and yourself. It could have influenced your education and career choices. It could keep affecting you unless you decide to change your reading techniques.

The obvious effect of slow reading is — you do not read as much. Since you need longer to get through a book, you simply do not have enough time to read everything that interests you. As a result, you also miss out on famous authors or works.

It may not be strikingly apparent (or it might), but chances are — not reading as much as others indirectly caused one other adversity. Slow reading could be affecting your relationships — with yourself and others. How?

When you do not manage to read as quickly as others do, you could start feeling inadequate. In school, you could have even developed a sense of lesser worth. Others would go over the learning materials in no time. They would comprehend and retain the information in a bit and go out to socialize and enjoy their free time. It is easy to start questioning your intelligence or feel incompetent when you compare yourself to quicker readers.

However, know that the cause of slow reading is not some inherent flaw. It is an easily fixable situation. The following section will explain why some of us have become slow readers.

Slow reading speed can, therefore, make you feel ashamed. It could cause you to withdraw. You get out of the loop because you cannot read the latest book releases as quickly as your friends have. You feel embarrassed to speak about your favorite book on a date. Book clubs are something you avoid at all-cause, missing out on opportunities to meet interesting people. In effect, slow reading might have affected your interpersonal relationships in a way you never thought of it.


The leading causes of slow reading

Before we move on to the question of how to read faster and understand the techniques of speed-reading, we ought to recognize why you may be a slow reader in the first place. We will look more closely into two aspects of becoming a slow reader. The first is emotional and developmental causes of slow reading. The second considers the reading habits that prevent you from reading quickly.


The making of a slow reader

The first vital factor to consider is that most of us learned to read when we were five or six. In other words, we were cognitively, emotionally, and physically immature. Although it is the expected age for learning to read, we were not in control of the process. We were at the mercy of our teachers’ ability to transfer the proper reading techniques to us.

They have  to be sensitive to a particular child’s psychological and cognitive traits. Needless to say, this does not always end well.

You may have been pushed into learning to read too hard.

For example, you might have been pressed to read when you felt insecure. You could have wanted to watch TV or play a game instead. Whether it was your parents or your teachers who did not ease you into reading, such moves might have caused you to feel frustrated.

The frustration would then be associated with reading itself by the workings of the psychological mechanism called emotional conditioning. Whenever you thought of reading, you felt uneasy. You remembered how your parents or teachers used to prod you to do something you did not feel like doing. To avoid this feeling, you dodged reading. Therefore, you did not practice and perfect your skills. Finally, you ended up being a slow reader.

What is more, this initial failure to fall in love with reading and perfect your skills might have deepened the issue. You could have fostered something known as learned helplessness. Learned helplessness happens when we repeatedly try to change a situation and fail, no matter what we do.

When you were a child trying to read more quickly but did not have the proper guidance, you might have learned to feel powerless. In most cases, children simply stop trying. They start avoiding reading as much as possible.

The adversities of low grades and being called out as a slow reader merely added to the problem. They strengthened your urge to avoid the situation leading to such unpleasant experiences — reading.


Reading habits that slow down your reading speed

Let us go back to the way we learned to read once more. Most of us were one of the two-dozen children in the class, expected to keep up. We had minimal individual support and guidance. We were, in other words, left to figure it out and keep pace with the class.

The outcome of the group approach to teaching reading is that many children acquire bad reading habits. These never get corrected. They follow us into adulthood and make us read slowly, read little, and avoid education and careers that involve massive loads of reading.

These habits are long fixation, too frequent regression, and subvocalization.

When we read, it is natural that our eyes rest longer on bits of text. This fixation lasts for milliseconds, but when you read a book, those milliseconds accumulate. According to research, the reading speed of a person depends on the length of fixation. Slow readers tend to fixate for longer. Conversely, speed-reading is characterized by a shorter fixation period that delivers comprehension and retention.  

Slow readers also re-read words. It is natural to go back and read bits of text here and there. You could have lost focus, or you were not interested in what you were reading. It might be complicated material with numerous uncommon words. However, too frequent regression is a cause of slow reading, according to a study. In contrast, speed-reading allows you to go over texts without unnecessary retention and boost your reading speed.

Finally, as children, we might have acquired a nasty habit of subvocalization or pronouncing words in our heads. When we were taught to read, our teachers instructed us to pronounce the words out loud. Then they told us to start voicing them in our heads and read in silence as the next step.

However, for many children, this instruction did not spontaneously lead to truly silent reading. Instead, they continued pronouncing words in their heads while reading. Many adults unconsciously subvocalize, which strikingly slows down their reading speed.


How to read faster

There are several ways to improve your reading speed. Whether you aim to achieve speed-reading levels or not, these tips can help you re-train your brain and read at a faster pace.


  • Maintain focus


It may sound obvious, but in order to read faster, you need to stay focused. Otherwise, you are simply skimming the text.

The first thing you ought to do is to remove distractions. Put your phone on silent, or place it outside your reach. This will help cut down the unnecessary checking of social media. Turn off the TV. You could play some ambient music to help you zone in on your reading.

An interesting trick you could try is to alternate reading speed. Read bits as quickly as you can, then read others as slowly as you can. Such a change of pace prevents your brain from becoming inert and, simply put, forgetting to concentrate.


  • Learn to inspect text first

If you want to learn how to read faster, you need to inspect a text adequately. It simply means grasping the main points before you start reading the whole text.

In many cases, we were not taught to review reading material at schools systematically. Most of us graduated from college, still unaware of the proper way to approach such an inspection.

You will want to start from the introduction to become familiar with the used terms and notions — something many of us tend to skip. Then, it would be best to go over headings to understand the line of the argument or the direction of the narrative. Scanning over the bolded text, figures, and tables is also helpful. Finally, reading the conclusion rounds your inspection up.

When you go over these steps, you will read faster because you already know what to expect. You will not lose your time on regression because you will be familiar with the terms and concepts. You will also maintain focus with greater ease because you know how the argument is going to develop.



  • Use technology to assist you


As we already mentioned above, we have developed AccelaReader to help you increase your reading speed. It is an app that can help you read online texts up to 50% faster without formal speed-reading training. You simply copy and paste the text you want to read in the textbox. 

When you are using the app, you are also training yourself in the basics of speed-reading. For example, you can customize the speed at which words flash on the screen and the number of words to appear. By gradually increasing these parameters, you are essentially training your brain to read faster and faster.



  • Take a speed-reading course


Finally, the ideal and permanent solution for tackling slow reading is to take a speed-reading course. At Iris Reading, we offer a range of solutions guaranteed to fit your aspirations.

As a starter, you can join our mini free speed reading course to learn about speed-reading. It will help you increase your reading speed using practical techniques. Moreover, the techniques will help you improve comprehension with better focus and concentration. The course teaches you to approach technical content and analysis more effectively and remember vital information using specific memory techniques. Overall, even this mini-course will increase your reading speed in general and on screen.

If you are satisfied with the results but want to develop the skill more, Iris Reading offers a wide range of the best speed-reading courses for you to choose from. Apart from those, there are also supplementary courses to advance your proficiency in reading and learning, such as the Personal Productivity Course, Maximizing Memory course, or a course on Effective Note-Taking.

Once you have grasped the basic speed-reading skills, we invite you to take the advanced Speed Reading Mastery Course. It will teach you techniques to increase your reading speed even further. You will learn how to get comprehension at high rates, even for technical materials.


Learn speed-reading and transform your life

It might sound like too bold of a statement to make. Nonetheless, we are making it! Why?

When you learn speed-reading, your days become longer. You gain more time for work. Remember that hobby you never managed to start? A speed-reading course could create enough time for it. You could also study more efficiently or read more about topics you are interested in. You could finally dedicate enough of your energy and time to your friends and family.

When you learn how to read faster and perfect speed-reading techniques, a new world presents itself. A world in which you have more of what is our most precious possession — time. When you think about it, the options are endless, are they not?

So, wait no longer, and take the best Speed Reading Mastery Course. Become the master of your time.

Why Can't I Remember What I Read?
Does Speed Reading Actually Work?


  • Ann

    Is this course/app suitable for children (9 Yr old) with exceptionally low reading rate.
    Many thanks

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Ann. We usually recommend no younger than middle school-aged students.