copyright 2007
Gary L. Bertrand
Missouri University of Science & Technology

How We Learned to Read (Slowly)      How to Use This Program

Measure Your Reading Speed
Reading tests are being developed for this exercise.  In the meantime,
there are a couple of online tests to find out where you are right now.

There are a few "quickies" at

and a longer one with a comprehension test at

There is a short lesson on speed reading and some short tests at
Click on "free trial" and "Quick Demo".

The exercises below are similar to other reading programs,
but with a major difference.  These are designed for the type
of reading that we use in studying - looking for specific information.
Speed-reading courses are concentrated on scanning material
to get an overall view of what it contains.  This is very good as a
starting point in studying, but then you will want to focus on the important
points for detailed study.  Determination of those important points
for a class is usually guided by an assignment.  Outside of class,
that determination is based on the reason
that you are reading the material.

Preliminary Exercises

These exercises are designed to help you develop the habit of
focusing on what you are reading, and to gain confidence in your
ability to retain information that flashes before your eyes.

The goal of these exercises is to increase the amount of material
that you are reading while decreasing the time.

When you find that you are scoring 75% or better on an exercise,
either increase the level of difficulty or the speed.

The exercises may seem difficult at first, but you will be surprised
at how your performance improves with practice.

Number/Letter Recognition

A number or letter combination of four or more digits is flashed
on the screen,
  and you are asked to type the number in the answer box.
You may increase the number of digits and/or the speed of the flash.
This increases the span of your reading "bite" and will give you more
confidence that you can actually retain "words" that you hardly see.
The use of letters here is experimental to see if some people
are more comfortable with letters than numbers.
I am not.  I had to put spaces between the letters to improve my score.

Name Recognition

The previous exercise should convince you that you don't have to read each
number or letter individually, but you can absorb and retain a sequence
of unrelated numbers or letters in a very short period of time -
too quickly to read each one individually.
This exercise should convince you that you can "grab"
a sequence of familiar words, taking an even larger "bite".

Reading and Retention: Level I

A sentence is flashed on the screen and you are asked
a question about its content.  The content of the sentence may
be increased and/or the speed of the flash.  This builds a
good habit of concentrating on what you are reading.

Reading and Retention: Level II

Similar to Level I, but more complex.
Estimates speed while reading for detail.

The most important factor in reading for speed is concentration on the
material before you, ignoring any distractions.  The greatest advances will
come from overcoming the bad habits that you have developed
over years of reading for both recreation and education.

Overcoming these can easily double your reading speed.

The easiest habit to deal with is "backing up" - reading
something two or three times.  This habit develops from lack
of concentration, but it becomes so ingrained that it cannot be
overcome with concentration alone.  The exercise below
prevents backing up  to help you overcome this habit.

The more difficult habit to break is "sub-vocalizing", saying the
word in your head - which many of us learned to do so that
we wouldn't "move our lips" when reading.  The exercises above
are helpful, but most people still have to concentrate to avoid it.

Reading for Speed

Read an e-book, staying ahead of a panel moving at the
chosen speed.  Learn to concentrate better as you are reading
and gradually increase both speed and retention.

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