Does speed reading really work? No, it does not work! You work it. Now before you stop reading thinking, "that last statement is obvious," I'll ask you to stop and think for a moment. Most people think that reading is a passive activity. Passive readers are slow readers who often have great difficulty with reading comprehension. Highly effective readers on the other hand show great activity in several areas of the brain while reading under brain scanning machines.

Most people take reading for granted. Most people have not learned how to activate their brain to read well, not to mention to read quickly. The notion that reading is a passive activity is at the root this most commonly asked question - "Does speed reading work?"

Here are the most common steps to developing yourself as a speed reader:

1. Increase the efficiency of your eye movements. All speed reading programs aim to do this. However, most approaches do this in an unnatural manner. Ineffective programs focus on increasing eye span (the size of the area for each eye stop) from one word to several words across the line. The common approach is to extend the eye fixation horizontally or linearly across the line, usually referred to as "word clumps." Eye movement efficiency is essential, but the natural sight experience is dimensionally vertical as well as horizontal, extending about 1-3 inches in diameter. Rather than focus on the size of the word clump, effective speed readers focus on meaningful groups of words that the eyes see in a dimensional manner. Remember, the eyes are merely the mechanics. Most speed reading programs devote most of the training to the mechanics and little to comprehension.

2. Shift your perception of comprehension. Comprehension is understanding what you read while you are reading. To read in the thousands of words per minute range, requires a shift in your perception. Currently you understand the print as you take it in grammatical sequence. This approach has been the basis of your reading comprehension for your whole life. The new perceptual shift is to understand the meaning of the print without needing the grammatical sequence. Your eyes will see all the print, but not in grammatical order. Your brain can process the meaning without the grammatical sequence. There are times that you have already experienced this in non-reading situations, but you are currently not comfortable allowing your brain/mind to apply it to your reading. Mean know I what. That sentence is an example. At first you hesitate, but then your mind makes sense of it.

3. Pump it up! Speed reading training is similar to muscle training. It requires continuous conditioning exercises over time. As neuro-science has shown us over the past ten years, the brain is very elastic and pliable. It does and will improve with continuous exercise over time. Many brain trainers have documented amazing results when the participant diligently works with the brain "muscle" reconditioning. Any physical sport provides a useful analogy to training your brain to master speed reading. Are you willing to do the training for lasting results? Learning to speed read is like learning most any other skill. It does require repetitive practicing over some time.

4. Continuous Improvement. Once again the muscle training analogy is useful. Imagine that you trained yourself in a fitness program for a few months. You got to a level that you felt good and satisfied with your results. Then other things took central stage in your life and you stopped working out. Perhaps two months later (or even 2 weeks) you came back to your workout. You will find your muscles quickly lost the efficiency they had before the long break. However, the good news is that there is something called muscle memory. It won't be as hard. The same is true for speed reading. You must do continuous exercise and application to remain at the peak of your performance. Application on a regular basis is the path to long term mastery and effective habit creation.

Keeping these four steps in mind, you will effectively work the speed reading process. There is a "you" behind the techniques. That "you" is your brain/mind applying the techniques in order to stimulate and monitor your reading process. To succeed requires your minds attention and response. Again, speed reading does not work. You work it. As you learn to apply your mind consciously while using the techniques, you will become a speed reading master.

Now that you know this secret, I invite you to learn more with our free tips and ebook 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 to read 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."

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Ed Caldwell, the Official Guide To Speed Reading