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The Science behind Speed Reading

Reading is a fundamental skill that we use every day. Whether it’s reading a book for pleasure or digesting information for work or study, the ability to read efficiently and quickly is highly valuable. This is where speed reading comes in. Speed reading is a technique that aims to increase reading speed without sacrificing comprehension. But how does it work? Let’s delve into the science behind speed reading.

Eye Movements and Fixations

When we read, our eyes do not move smoothly across the page. Instead, they make rapid movements called saccades, which allow us to jump from one word to another. However, during these saccades, our eyes also pause briefly on specific words or groups of words. These pauses are known as fixations and are crucial for understanding the text. Speed reading techniques focus on minimizing the duration of fixations to increase reading speed.

Eliminating Subvocalization

Subvocalization refers to the habit of silently pronouncing words in our minds as we read. While this may seem like a natural way to read, it can significantly slow down our reading speed. Speed reading techniques aim to reduce or eliminate subvocalization by training the brain to process words visually rather than phonetically. This allows readers to absorb information faster without the need for inner voice articulation.

Expanding Peripheral Vision

Another aspect of speed reading is expanding our peripheral vision. Typically, we tend to focus on a single word or group of words at a time. However, by training our eyes to take in more words in each fixation, we can increase our reading speed. This involves widening our visual span and using our peripheral vision to capture more information in a single glance. The brain then processes this information simultaneously, allowing for faster reading.

Chunking and Patterns

In speed reading, the concept of chunking plays a significant role. Chunking involves grouping words or phrases together to form meaningful units of information. By recognizing patterns and familiar word combinations, our brains can process these chunks more efficiently. This technique helps to reduce the time spent on individual words and improves overall reading speed.

Skimming and Scanning

Skimming and scanning are techniques commonly used in speed reading to quickly gather information from a text. Skimming involves quickly glancing over a passage or chapter to get a general overview of the content. Scanning, on the other hand, involves searching for specific keywords or phrases within a text. These techniques allow readers to identify relevant information without reading every word, saving time and increasing reading speed.

Practice and Training

While some individuals may naturally read at a faster pace, speed reading is a skill that can be learned and improved through practice and training. Various exercises and techniques, such as timed reading drills and reading comprehension exercises, can help individuals increase their reading speed and efficiency. With regular practice, individuals can train their brains to process information more quickly, leading to significant improvements in reading speed.


Speed reading is not simply about reading as fast as possible. It is a systematic approach to reading that involves techniques such as minimizing fixations, eliminating subvocalization, expanding peripheral vision, chunking, and utilizing skimming and scanning. By understanding the science behind speed reading and practicing these techniques, individuals can enhance their reading speed without compromising comprehension. So, whether you’re a student looking to tackle a mountain of textbooks or a professional trying to keep up with a vast amount of information, speed reading can be a valuable skill to master.