What is Speed Reading ?



Speed Reading is the art of Sub-vocalization in order to let your read faster that one usually does. Sub-vocalization is a common habit due to which readers are constantly saying the words in their head while reading. This is also known as auditory reassurance and is a habit because of which people read slowly and thus have a tough time improving their reading speed.


On an average, the reading speed of a person is 200 words per minute (wpm), which is similar to that of being able to read a passage out loud. One cannot term it as a coincidence; the reason behind this speed being so is because the average reader is in the habit of reading as fast as he can speak. This is the direct result of the age old way that we are taught to read which is reading while speaking.

It is entirely probable to increase our wpm speed and be able to read at a much greater speed that we usually do.  The simple solution is to be able to comprehend the reading material faster than the inner voice, sub-vocalization, can keep up.

The history

The Concept of Speed Reading came to being somewhere in the late 1950s. The researcher in this case was a school teacher, Evelyn Wood, who was committed towards understanding the reason behind why some people are naturally faster at reading than others. So she tried to read as quickly as she could in order to become a faster reader than others.

It wasn’t till 1958 that, while brushing off the pages of a book she had thrown in desolation, she realized that the sweeping method of her hand across the page was something that helped her move smoothly across the page and made it better and easier to read stuff. Wood later taught the concept at the University of Utah before launching the same to the public as Evelyn Wood’s Reading Dynamics in Washington DC, USA in 1959.

Methods for Speed Reading

In order to be able to improve the speed at which we read there are different ways for going about it. Much like the way Evelyn Wood found out, using our finger to guide us to read and go through stuff definitely improves the speed of the reader. More than this there are different ways of intentionally being able to improve your speed for reading:

  • Skimming: This process is which includes a visual search of the sentences on a page for clues of meaning. While it may come naturally for some, it takes practice for others. This method is easily evident in adults than in children. This method can take your reading speed to as high as 700 wpm rather than the normal 200-230 wpm.

  • Meta Guiding: Meta Guiding is the way of visually going through the text while using a finger or a pointer to read. This can be done through the help of a finger, a pen, etc and it will make the eye move much faster along the text. This is a result of the eyen being able to draw invisible shapes on the page of the text and being able to attract the tracking movement of the eye. This increases the speed of the visual cortex which increases the visual span of the reader to be able to comprehend the whole line and even imprint the information into their subconscious for later retrieval. This somewhere helps reduce sub-vocalization and in turn increases the reading speed. Sometimes this process makes the reader skim over the text and reduce comprehension and memory which leads to missing of important details on the text. So the correct way would be to lay emphasis on viewing every word, as briefly as possible, to make this method effective.