Speed Reading Training, part I
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Speed Reading Training
I've always been curious if humans can actually read at super speeds as sometimes shown in TV and movies. For example, the way some Savants are claimed to read a full page from a book in a matter of 3 seconds or so.
One of the problems I see with reading super fast is that comprehension of what has been read goes down, which, to me, is the main purpose of reading anything, i.e., to learn or be informed. So I would find of very little use if I can read a full page in 3 seconds and only understand 10% of the text. Note that sometimes even taking 2 or 3 minutes a page of books with esoteric Accounting concepts or Yield Structures Curves I still end up understanding only 10% of it.
As usual, I am running an experiment on myself to see if I can actually learn to read faster than I currently do and still maintain relatively good text comprehension. My goal is not the amazing 3 seconds per page, but I want some kind of improvement.
Why do I want to read faster? I am sure it would impress Gabriel, my 6 year old son, but I have a more practical reason to learn how to read faster. Being enrolled in graduate studies (MBA) requires a great deal of reading, so the more time I spend reading 6 chapters a week for 2 different business courses, the less time I spend doing more productive stuff--like drawing, sleeping, or writing this blog...OK, or "hard core" coding :)
In order to become a super-fast reading machine, I started one of those "read fast and enjoy life" training programs. I will not give the name of the product I am using, but, like all the other ones, it is based on eye muscle training and scientific research (they have a picture of guy wearing a lab coat, so it must be legitimate...wink, wink).
I have completed two lessons, and this is a chart of the results thus far:
For each lesson, there is some excerpt of text presented to test the reading speed before and after. The results (in words/minute) are used to plot the graph above.
So far, my reading speed has increased after each exercise, however, I don't know if it is the actual exercises that have increased my reading speed or the text presented after each lesson is easier to read. What I mean is that I don't know if the complexity of the second passage is lesser than the first, i.e., smaller words and simpler sentence structure.
I will keep posting results, in case you are interested. By the end, I am hoping to read the whole "Internet" in 15 minutes :)
lol. 15 minutes. :-D Very interesting, and I look forward to reading your future speed-reading posts.
Question for ya: The chart looks like it increases, then decreases, then increases; in your post you say that you consistently increased your reading speed. Am I reading the chart incorrectly?
Hey CJ. No you are not reading the chart incorrectly. Each session has a before and after speed reading test.
The plotting goes in pairs. So for two session, I have two sets of results.
For my first session I got 230 w/m before any training, and 286 w/p after. Similar to the second session: 241 w/p before, and 329 w/m after.
The graphs show this up and down pattern because the makers of the program thought it best to put both results in the same Cartesian plane.
Do note that my "before the training session" results have increased from 230 to 241 words per minute. Similarly, my after training results have increased from 286 to 329 words per minute.
I'll plot these results individually at the end of the 12 sessions to see what it looks like.
I suspect that my improvements will start to plateau at some point, but my starting point is 230 w/m (on average).