How The Rate at Which You Read Effects Comprehension


Speed reading has been around since the 1950s and decades later, the concept of it still holds true. When speed reading was first introduced, it raised a few eyebrows. The idea of someone reading faster than the average reader and comprehending the text seemed impossible. The idea seemed to be flip-flopped, begging the question, “Isn’t it better to not rush through text in order to comprehend things properly?”

To understand how the rate at which a person reads effects comprehension, you first need to know about the reading process. Reading is a visual exercise which means a person’s eyes and cognitive systems need to learn what a language looks like on paper, a computer screen, a tablet, etc. Once a reader can understand what the written word looks like, they can begin to practice training their eye-movement, reading words in a way that controls the cognitive process. Depending on the person, this can mean they see and understand words faster than usual.

Why some people read slow and the effect it has

The rate at which a person reads has a tremendous impact on comprehension. When first learning how to read, it is common to practice subvocalization. Subvocalization is when you read the words that you hear out loud in your head. As time moves on, a person should reduce the amount of subvocalization to read faster. Other bad habits that decrease the rate at which a person reads, and in turn comprehend, include:

  • Reading out loud.
  • Reading the text word for word. Reading one word at a time doesn’t help to put together the sentence as a whole. 
  • Rereading sentences is a bad habit that a person develops at a young age. Doing so attributes to the rate at which a person reads.
  • Having a small vocabulary bank. While reading, you may come across unfamiliar vocabulary. Not knowing the meaning of a word can slow you down and make it harder to comprehend text. This is why it is so important to learn new vocabulary. 

How speed reading can help comprehension

The concept of speed reading starts with getting familiar with the material you are about to read. Read the back cover of the book or abstract of the article. Getting a sense of the content will prepare you for what vocabulary and concepts you will encounter. Whatever you do, avoid skimming the material as a way to preview it. In a previous article, How To Speed Read Without Skimming we explained, “skimming is not really going to help you remember much of the reading material or help you to actually expand your knowledge from whatever it is you are reading.”

Once you understand what you are up against, it will be easier to practice speed reading. With the right techniques, you can get through the text quickly, comprehend it, and remember the information to use at a later date. This could be presenting material at a board meeting, or taking a final exam in college.

When you learn to speed read, you’re on your way to a more productive workday. Our speed reading courses will get you to the point where you can read an 8,000-word document in no time. Whether you are a student in med school or the CEO of a company, speed reading can benefit you in a variety of ways. Ask about our speed reading courses today!

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