Test your reading speed … and then double it!

Use the timed test below to find out how fast you read. (Most people have no idea!)

Whether it’s 200, 300, or 500 words per minute, we can help you at least double that speed AND retain what you read. Give it a go!

Use the START button below and read at your normal speed. Then click STOP right away to reveal your speed.

The history of rapid reading

The early development of rapid reading can be traced to the beginning of this century. It was stimulated by a population explosion that swamped readers with more than they could possibly handle at normal reading rates.

Interestingly, most early courses were based on information provided from a rather unexpected source — the air force. Concepts discovered here were quickly transferred to the field of education.

Air force tacticians had noticed that a number of pilots were severely disadvantaged by the fact that, when flying, they were unable to distinguish planes seen at a distance. In the life and death situation of combat, this inability was obviously a major difficulty, and the air force psychologists and educationalists set about finding a remedy for the situation.

A specially commissioned team developed a machine called a tachistoscope, which is simply a device for flashing images — in this case aircraft — for varying instants of time on a large screen. They started by flashing fairly large pictures of friendly and enemy aircraft at very slow exposures, and then gradually shortened the exposure while decreasing the size of the image seen.

The results were surprising, for they found that the average person could be trained to distinguish almost speck-like representations of planes flashed on the screen for only one 500th of a second. Reasoning that the perceptual ability of the eyes had been vastly underrated, they decided to transfer this information to reading.

Using exactly the same process, they first flashed one large word for 5 seconds on a screen, gradually reducing the size of the word and shortening the length of the flash to one 500th of a second. Recognition was still obtained even when up to four words were flashed at this speed. The outcome of these encouraging results was that rapid reading courses were based on tachistoscope training.

This approach usually provided the student with a graph graded from 100 words per minute to 400 words per minute. Most people, with regular training, were able to climb from an average of 200 words per minute to an average of 400 words per minute.

Unfortunately, an enormous number of the participants in such training schemes noticed that shortly after the course had finished, their reading speed once again sank to its previous level. This high post-course failure rate brought into question the validity of the tachistoscopic method.

One explanation for its failure is that it used a still screen with no requirement for the eye to move (travel). It is commonly accepted that to see something clearly, the eye must be still in relation to the object it is seeing. In relation to normal reading, it is obvious that because there are many words to read on a page, the eye must obviously move.

This apparently paradoxical situation, in which the eye is required both to be still and to move, is resolved by putting the two in sequence. The eye must be still to take in a word or group of words, and must then move on to the next group of words. Once again, the eye must be still, before moving on again.

The eye must therefore be trained primarily not in seeing an image very quickly, but in moving efficiently.

An effective speed-reading programme would therefore focus on eliminating or reducing the slowing habits of backskipping, regression and visual wandering off the page. All of these habits are addressed in the Advanced Reading programme with regular use of the reading accelerator, eye exercises and chunking drills.

In the Advanced Reading programme, increased efficiency of eye movements, combined with the practice of taking in a larger ‘chunk’ of information at each eye-stop, ensures long-term success for each participant.

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.