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  Lesson 2 - Speed Reading Mini-Course


I want to burst some speed reading myths before we continue. These myths cause new, would-be speed readers no end of confusion and frustration so let's squash them now.


Hand Motions

Some books, mainly older references, go on-and-on about fancy hand motions, moving in Z or S shapes, and the amazing things you can accomplish just by waving your hands over the words. When these methods are put to the test they fall far short of the claims. There is no magic hand motion that will make you read faster. Some people simply find it easier to use their hand as a pointer and some find it distracting. It simply depends on how your brain is wired. The only fact about hand motions is, if it works for you, use it, if it distracts you, don’t use it.


What speeds can people read? What speed qualifies as Speed Reading?

A quick Amazon search reveals some older book systems spouting ludicrous claims of 10,000 words per minute or more. These kinds of numbers have been repeatedly debunked because they are simply made up. No one can read 10,000 words per minute and remember more than a few words. That is not how speed reading actually works and such outrageous numbers as 5,000 or 10,000 words per minute are nothing but marketing gimmicks.

There are documented, real speed readers who have taken no classes. These people picked up the techniques used in speed reading on their own, at an early age. They have had a lifetime to use them and many do not even know they are speed readers. They assume that everyone reads the way they do. The average person reads 200 to 300 words per minute. True speed readers can read 500 to 2500 words per minute but more commonly average around 600 to 1000 maybe 1500 words per minute. That is still a lot faster than 200 words per minute.


Didn’t the Air Force Prove Speed Reading works?

The Air Force conducted some research to see how fast someone could recognize a word. This was related to identifying enemy aircraft then later displays and labeling and not actual speed reading. They used a device called a Tachioscope which was a dark screen and flashed a light colored word very fast, then disappeared. The person in front of the screen then had to identify the word. It turns out that a person can identify the word even if it is only shown for hundredths of a second. This does not in itself prove speed reading. It does prove that a person can recognize a word on-sight without using the normal sub-vocalization reading process. The technique used by the Air Force was not meant to test speed reading, but it does prove that the human brain can take in information much faster than many people thought. This technique itself will not teach speed reading either. It only proves a concept. It does not teach speed reading.


Speed Reading is fake. What good is speed reading if you don't have any comprehension?

This is one of the most annoying posts I see on message boards and it is always posted by someone who has never actually tried a real speed reading system or tried it for ten minutes and quit.

The act of asking the question proves that the person asking has no experience with speed reading because this is simply not how the process works. Many nay-sayer’s like to claim that there is no comprehension or understanding of what is read when speed reading. That is simply false. They fail to say that ‘they’ cannot comprehend, and instead claim that no one can comprehend. The real comprehension problem is with the individual who has either not followed a legitimate speed reading training system, or has not developed the skills needed to understand what they are reading.

In speed reading, you must first learn the mechanics of the new reading method. Once your brain can process those mechanics, then you build comprehension. Remember back when you were first learning to read. You would sound out each word in a sentence, read several sentences about the adventures of Dick and Jane running, then the teacher would ask you what you read. Your cute little 5 year old face would look up blankly as you said “I dunno” because you had no idea what you read. Your mind was still learning the mechanics of reading. Does this mean that no one can read anything because it is impossible for them to comprehend or remember what they have read? Obviously not. A child must learn the mechanics of reading, then they develop their skills and build comprehension through the 2nd, 3rd, grades. When someone learns speed reading, it is unrealistic to expect to have the same comprehension level when first learning a new way of visually taking in information. Mechanics first, then comprehension. If you see anyone posting on a message board about how ‘they’ cant comprehend anything they read when speed reading(assuming they ever tried) you can now correct them.


Speed Reading is just Skimming isn’t it?

Absolutely not. Skimming is just that, skimming for some keywords. Speed reading is the act of reading every word. It is not picking out the highlights and it is not ‘getting the general idea’.  Speed reading is NOT skimming. If any system tells you they are the same, toss it in the trash because they are trying to sell a Skimming system re-labeled as a speed reading system.


Find out for yourself.

Modern speed reading systems have gained a new popularity with the development of software which makes the training and speed measuring much easier.

If you have not already done so, take a free reading speed test at and see if you read at a normal rate, slow rate, or if maybe you are already a natural speed reader.


How To Learn Speed Reading

In order to take in information rapidly, you must practice even faster. If you are following the online class, the first few lessons will seem much too fast for anyone to follow. They are intentionally fast. If you are using your own reading material, you must push yourself to move faster than you are comfortable with your visual intake methods.

It is much easier to overload your brain by going too fast, then drop back to a slower speed(which is faster than you started), than it is to slowly build up your speed. If you try to slowly build up your speed, that little voice in your head will continue to hold your reading speed back.

Do not expect to understand what you read in the first few lessons. We are not working on comprehension at this point. We are practicing for speed and visualization. The purpose of these lessons is to learn to recognize words as images and to silence that inner voice. Read for speed, not comprehension at this point.

It will take you some time to become accustomed to moving your eyes at the faster recognition rate. Your eyes will want to stop on words and read them which will break your momentum.

Go through the practice session two or three times just to practice eye movement. Don't read. Let your eyes follow the highlighted text without trying to read. Once you have improved your eye movement, return to the practice and try again but this time focus on recognizing words. Not reading words, practice recognizing the major words without pronouncing them in your head. Keep that voice quiet.

When you finish this lesson, you will not know what the text was about. The objective is only to practice scanning rapidly and recognizing words and groups of words as images. You are not reading for comprehension yet. You are learning to break the habit of stopping on every word to pronounce it and learning to visually take in words.

Quick Tip: Readers often waste time re-reading material they are already familiar with. Unfortunately you have no way of knowing if you are familiar with it until after you have read it. By speed reading, you can skim through parts that are familiar and reduce the time spent on review and return to the important new information. This method is explained further in the Three-Read section.

You may find it helpful to read 2 or 3 books you are already familiar with to practice your speed reading technique. Avoid re-reading, or going back to re-read parts that you think you missed. As your speed reading ability increases you will find you miss less and less. If you keep going back during the learning process you will not progress as fast because of the interruptions of stopping and starting. Reading familiar material without re-reading and while applying the visualization of words will help you learn to take in information rapidly and visually while silencing the voice in your head. This is a good opportunity to re-read some old novels you enjoyed in the past.

That is the end of Lesson 2. You are now well acquainted with how speed reading works and what to expect from it.

Practice these techniques on your own.

In Lesson 3 we will move into some more practical exercises. Lesson 3 will be emailed to you.


You should still see a noticeable result even if you are practicing on your own without using the software or online training systems.

If you are ready to take a more challenging test, sign up for the full online speed reading course Click HERE



Good luck! Until the next lesson, keep practicing.
Michael Ford
President and CEO Elite Minds Inc.



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