Research Backed Methods For Faster Reading - Deepstash

Research Backed Methods For Faster Reading

Research points to speed reading being a form of skimming, which is appropriate for short text but not for longer ones.


For long texts, reading more to increase vocabulary or read things you already know a lot about are the only scientifically backed methods to increase speed and comprehension.

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MORE IDEAS FROM Big Question: Is Speed Reading Actually Possible?

Speed Reading Versus Evidence

There are different techniques that claim to increase ones reading speed but decades of medical and psychological research indicates that said speed gain comes at the cost of understanding.

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The Average Reader

Most educated people can read between 250 to 400 words per minute) with good comprehension. For comparison, a normal conversation produces 150 to 160 words per minute.

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Elizabeth Schotter

"Is this word a food, yes or no?" "If you give them a word that's not a food, say 'MEET,' but the word sounds like an actual food word (M-E-A-T), then they're more likely to say yes even though it's the wrong answer."

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Elizabeth Schotter - cognitive psychologist

"… no human being can read 1,000 or 2,000 words per minute and maintain the same levels of comprehension they do at 200 or 400 words per minute."

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Unlike speech, reading and writing are "cognitively unnatural."

As a human instinct, speech doesn’t have to be taught to an infant. Writing does, because it is not a purely visual process, both reading and writing piggyback on language and speech

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Proponents of speed reading claim sub-vocalization is a detrimental habit that can be suppressed to increase ones reading speed.


On the other hand, research indicates even using techniques to stop sub-vocalization, the mere visual recognition of words accesses the sounds of those words anyway.

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  • Regressions: Quick, unconscious re-readings we do when we don't understand something.
  • Saccades: Jerky, 0.1-second eye movements we use to move our fovea (center of vision) from one word to another.
  • Fixations: Brief, 250-millisecond pauses, each word receives during reading.

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Softwares using the RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation) method eliminate time-wasting eye movements by presenting you one word at a time.

Again, the science says this tends to have a negative impact on comprehension as the rereading is important for understanding text.

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Although there is an academic consensus that speed-reading decreases comprehension,

On the other hand, the same can’t be said for comprehension measurement techniques, as we can process text differently according to context.

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Elizabeth Schotter

"The software and apps don't know what you're doing, they don't know what your internal representation is, so they can't compensate for a failure in understanding because they don't have access to that knowledge,"

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Reading involves the visual acquisition of the symbols by the eye and the cognitive processing that goes on in the background. It's an intricate dance between a number of visual and mental processes highly dependent on language.

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Woody Allen

"I took a course in speed-reading...and was able to read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It's about Russia."

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Is the inner speech readers hear in their heads as they read silently.

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Elizabeth Schotter

"Because we all learn to speak and listen before we learn to read, almost everyone tends to access the sounds of speech when they read."

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RELATED IDEA

The Shortest Answer To Faster Reading

Read. The more you read the more familiar you are with linguistic structures, contexts and content, which speeds up your reading. That’s especially true when learning new words or familiar words used in novel ways.

It is not the eyes but what we know about language, print, and the world that determines reading skill.

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Speed reading
  • Speed reading promises to help anyone read at speeds of above 1000 words per minute with full comprehension.
  • The average college-level reader read at the speed of 200-400 words per minute.
  • In 1959, Evelyn Wood launched Reading Dynamics, said to increase a reader's speed by a factor of three to ten times while improving comprehension. The business was a success and eventually spread worldwide.

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Reading is a complex process that involves the brain's visual and auditory processes, phonemic awareness, fluency and comprehension. There are billions of pages available to read online, along with billions of print books sold every year. All this choice is making us want to skim our reading, as we are short of time.

There are trade-offs in this 'speedy' approach, as we are sacrificing the quality of understanding over the quantity of information.

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