Speed reading has long been considered a strategy that makes it possible to review and comprehend large amounts of text in a short amount of time.

The ability can be useful in a range of situations. Book readers, for instance, can finish novels in a short amount of time. Reading news and emails can also be accomplished in one seating.

While speed reading courses that claim to help individuals improve their speed and comprehension in reading have existed for a while now, the findings of a new research have cast doubt on many of these.

Too Good To Be True

Psychological scientists involved in a new study on speed reading and comprehension said that claims of speed reading programs appear too good to be true.

The researchers looked at decades' worth of studies on the science of reading and found little evidence that could support speed reading as a shortcut that would allow a person to understand and remember large quantities of written content in a short time frame.

Study researcher Elizabeth Schotter, a psychological scientist from the University of California, San Diego, noted that their study aimed to take a closer look behind the science of reading, citing that speed training courses have existed for decades and there has been an increase in the number of speed reading technologies lately.

With the study, the researchers aimed to help people make informed decisions on whether or not they should believe in companies that promote speed reading courses and technologies.

How To Read Faster And With Good Comprehension

In their report, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, the researchers revealed that there are no magic shortcuts to reading quicker with full comprehension.

Schotter and colleagues said that there is a trade-off between speed reading and accuracy. Readers will not likely be able to double or triple their reading speed from about 250 to around 500 to 750 words per minutes while still being capable of understanding the text as well as when they read at a normal speed.

"We urge people to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and ask for supporting scientific evidence when someone proposes a speed reading method that will double or triple their reading speed without sacrificing a complete understanding," Schotter said.

The researchers said that skimming the text or speed reading would allow a reader to get through a text faster with moderate comprehension, but this is good only when it is not the reader's goal to thoroughly understand the text.

They have nonetheless offered advice on how to read fast while still being able to understand the text well.

"The way to maintain high comprehension and get through text faster is to practice reading and to become a more skilled language user (e.g., through increased vocabulary)," Schotter and colleagues said. "This is because language skill is at the heart of reading speed."

Experts recommend practice reading for comprehension to improve one's reading ability. Getting into the habit of reading books can surely help as this offers a chance to encounter new words and ideas.

Exposing yourself to writing in all its different forms can also help build a larger and richer vocabulary. This provides a contextual experience that can be helpful in anticipating upcoming words in the text.

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