Is speed reading a myth, or a method? Searching through the web for information on speed reading can lead to mass confusion, especially if you read the majority of posted views on non-commercial sites. The verdict from reviewing these personal experiences can cause an interested learner to have great doubts about the claims we see on the commercial sites. Why is there such great debate?

The reasons why there is great debate about the effectiveness of speed reading training are varied. They include: poorly designed training, misinformation based on outdated techniques that are packaged from public domain sources, lack of knowledge about the nature of reading from sellers who may have succeeded in learning the skills themselves, and a general misunderstanding about comprehension from both the providers of speed reading and the students of speed reading.

Without comprehension, you can not read. You may move your eyes through the material rapidly, but if you don't understand the material, then it has been a waste of time. That statement is true, unless it is part of a training technique that is part of a larger training process.

Most speed reading programs do not teach the comprehension process effectively. Many do not even address it and the entire program is about moving the eyes faster. These programs leave the learner with the assumption that with enough repetition comprehension will come along on its own. This is false. This creates disgruntled learners.

There are two components of reading whether you read fast or not. The first component is mechanical. Your eyes are the mechanical aspect of reading. Because of your old habits, if you read less than 600 words per minute (wpm), you are probably doing this inefficiently and you can benefit somewhat from training on this. The second component to reading is comprehension, or the cognitive aspect.

In learning to speed read, developing the cognitive aspect, or comprehension, is the bigger challenge. In fact, it is the reason why disgruntled speed reading trainees have negative views about the skill. If the training did not include an in-depth approach to comprehending then the criticism is well placed.

On the other hand, there is an important side to this debate that does fall on the shoulders of the learner. If comprehension is your mind's understanding of the text, then you have to learn how to drive your mind faster as you learn to move your eyes faster as well. Retraining your mind is much more difficult than training your eyes.

It doesn't happen by magic. Thus speed reading is actually all in your mind. Not only do you have to move your eyes faster, but you need to train your mind to think and perceive in faster and new ways.

Learning to perceive in new ways is a tricky path to navigate. The mind wants to resist this because it has been successful in keeping you "safe" as you are now. In other words, we get trapped in our habits. Change represents a threat. The mind protects you from the threat. Resistance is a natural response of the mind.

The key to successfully learning to speed read is not merely moving the eyes through print rapidly. The key to speed reading success is to use your mind in new ways as well. When you succeed at this transition, it is amazing how it affects all other aspects of your thinking and learning. It is not an easy transition, but is well worth the effort.

And now that you have learned perhaps one of the most critical aspects of mastering speed reading, I'd like to invite you to continue your learning with more free insightful tips at

Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at He is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and, Inc. You can learn more at and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading."