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Understanding despite speed

We once learned to read slowly and thoroughly in order to decode words letter by letter. But we no longer need this approach, as we can now also grasp words visually. Thus, reading slowly and thoroughly is rather a hindrance, as our brain can work better at higher speeds.

Better comprehension at a higher reading speed may sound like a contradiction at first. But if we consider that our brains can process much more than we allow them to, a different picture emerges.

What happens when you drive slowly?

Your mind is not completely focused on driving. You might be chatting with your passengers, eating something or (hopefully not) playing games on your phone.

But when you're on the motorway at 220 km/h, where are your thoughts?

100% when driving. All your attention is required and there is no room for distractions.

You often forget what you have read because your brain is underchallenged. If it doesn’t get the appropriate input, it tends to entertain itself otherwise, and your mind begins to wander. Boredom bears a high potential for distraction.

If we consciously increase our reading speed, the brain perceives the activity of reading as important. It now pays full attention to the reading process in order to do the job right. As more units of meaning are grasped and the semantic understanding is increased, you gain a boost of focus and text comprehension. The topics and contents you are reading about can be linked more effectively. Our ultra-short-term memory stores everything we perceive within 2 seconds, so if more units of information are grasped in short periods of time, they can be processed and connected really well.  


Why do we forget what we have just read?

We lose grip of a lot of content because we absorb the information too slowly. Forgetting about the beginning of a text before we get to the end of it can heavily impair our text comprehension. Luckily, we can overcome this dilemma, simply by reading faster. 

Reading must be considered a psychomotor skill, just like playing the piano, dancing a waltz or riding a bike. We cannot improve such skills by carrying out the ever-same routines. Reading a text like we have always done does not grow our reading skills, but merely consolidates them. However, a targeted practice of reading techniques can help us move through a text faster, easier and more effectively. Just like a golfer meticulously practising the tee-off, training isolated reading skills and techniques will improve your overall reading skills.

Being able to feed our brain with information faster through our eyes, we can achieve a higher focus, improve our text comprehension and memory, and save a lot of time. After all, the increase in speed serves as a prerequisite for any improvement of our reading skills.