We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Does Speed Reading Actually Work?

Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The ability to speed read may sound like an appealing skill in a prospective employee or a helpful tool for a student, but is faster reading necessarily better? And if someone claims they can speed read, are they also able to comprehend and retain what they’ve read? That’s the kicker. In fact, despite the popularity of speed reading programs, many cognitive scientists doubt that it’s even possible.

Although reading speed, processing ability, and working memory vary significantly among individuals, a skilled reader can read approximately 200 to 300 words per minute. Elizabeth Schotter, a psychology professor at the University of South Florida, says that “speeding up this process while retaining accuracy is almost impossible.” Research also casts doubt on purported speed reading techniques such as reading in a zigzag pattern or suppressing your "inner voice." Contrary to their intended effect, those techniques may actually impair fluency and make texts harder to comprehend. For example, reading comprehension dropped significantly in a study in which people hummed in an effort to eliminate their inner voice.

Schotter maintains that the ability to speed read boils down to simply skimming texts. This may provide the key ideas in a text, but it won't help you retain important details. So while it's possible to learn to get through material more quickly, your understanding of what you've read will suffer.

Read anything good lately?

  • The term "speed reading" is thought to have been coined in the late 1950s by Evelyn Wood, founder of Reading Dynamics. Her speed reading program was so popular that staffers for Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Carter were all sent on the course.

  • People tend to read far more quickly than they speak. A typical conversation (or an audiobook or podcast) takes place at a speed of around 150 to 160 words per minute.

  • Auctioneers and horse racing commentators speak more quickly – you're likely to hear speeds of around 250 words per minute, which is roughly reading speed.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.