Does Speed-reading Work?

To stay on topic, I think measuring Speed Reading in an actual contest within a controlled environment (by judges, witnesses and referees, like in WMC) is a much more accurate and reliable representation of the true Speed Reading human limit, rather than doing it in TV show; where we all know that there so many ‘set-ups’ which happen behind the scenes.

So, I have recently checked all the actual Speed Reading results of the recent Turkish Memoriads. (the reading test is taken in the Turkish language). For the record, ‘Turkish Memoriad’ is an annually-held competition similar to the 2 international Memoriads that have already taken place (in 2008 and 2012), but usually only Turkish competitors compete in the Turkish annual contest. Mr. Melik Duyar does a great job organising all those contests.

All the Speed Reading results for years 2008 until 2015 are located in this page:
There are listed 111 Speed Reading human competititors and there are their results/data from 6 Speed Reading competitions in the years '08, '09, '12, '13, '14 and '15,

To summarize the results: This may surpize you, negatively. Appararently the highest Speed Reading rate on record in all these years, in all competitions, is made by Mr. Mehmet Altunpinar in 2013 and it stands at 828 w.p.m. (words-per-minute) ( his actual reading speed was 1104 w.p.m. with an understanding of 75%, therefore 1104 * 0.75 = 828 w.p.m.).

I don’t wanna judge 828 w.p.m., since it is an excellent reading rate compared to your average folk. I only want to mention 2 more things:

  1. It’s much less comfortable to speed read an unknown text at a competition, with the extra pressure of delivering a good result, rather than to speed read the text of your choice in your leisure at home. The same happens in WMC. Many competitors have much greater scores in their home training rather than in the actual WMC competition.

  2. Having seen the actual 828 w.p.m. record, in all Speed Reading contests and given that Turkey is pool of about 80 million people, I estimate that inside a prospective international Speed Reading competition of let’s say 100 international highly motivated competitors, then the winner could probably have around 2K or 3K w.p.m.
    Therefore, I want to lower my previous estimate of 4K per minute, to around 2K w.p.m. But let’s wait and see the actual results. Next year, there will be around 300 Memoriad competitors in Las Vegas, Memoriad 2016. But I don’t know how many will take up to sit for the Speed Reading task, because it is a relatively new one. In my opinion, anyone that will reach an actual 4K + w.p.m. (comprehension included) within a big competition, within a controlled environment, then he/she deserves to be mentioned as having an extraordinary ability

Finally, if you happen to see any other actual results of other Speed Reading competitions (from schools or universirties, within controlled environments) feel to share them. Thanks in advance!


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Wasted to many hours and money on speed reading techniques and training. I just in the end cherry picked certain tools which could be useful.
First here is a novel idea, maybe focus on mastering comprehension first, speed naturally follows. It is easier to “speed read” a subject that you understand already.
I play around and tailor my tool set to each type of reading.
So normally for non fiction text book reading I would:

  1. Read the contents, Introduction at normal pace.
  2. Read the introduction of each chapter at a pace I can understand what I am about to read. Do the photoreading page scan of the chapter.
  3. “Speed read” the chapter marking important sections/diagrams/boxes that I need to come back to.
  4. Read summary for comprehension, I then judge how much I really understand.
  5. Then go back and read the marked important stuff.
    Optional 6. Create keyword diagram if I have time, or need to study.

I would also sometimes start with pop, dummies,elementary type books to get some comprehension about a subject, not too ashamed about it. If I must start with a high school level book about something, I will start there.
You got to let go of your ego, and not be afraid to seek simple sources to gain comprehension.

New unified rules for Speed Reading for the Memoriad contest.
and a new video synopsis with the new standards/ rules of Speed Reading ( video posted 8th-July-2016) :

Hopefully, these new rules will make it easier to compare between competitive speed-readers. And will probably also help any researchers (neuroscientists/psychologists etc.) who may want to conduct some benchmark studies for their future papers on competitive speed readers.


I’m looking forward to seeing that event. :slight_smile:

I currently train for the “Speed Reading competition in Memoriad 2016”, which will happen in 3 months.

A training problem which I faced, is that one has to turn the book pages very repetitively, either manually/physically or electronically/digitally.

This can cause RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in both cases:

  1. On physical/manual Speed Reading. There mainly, either the wrists or the finger/phalanx tendons can be strained if the pages are turned consistently very fast, in a rate of a few seconds. (2" or 3" per page). But thankfully, I don’t have Carpal Tunnel problems or anything RSI related.

  2. On electronical/digital Speed Reading. This sounds like an “easier Speed Reading mode”. But one still has to press a button to turn the page. (either “Page Down”, “Space” or “Enter”). So, the finger tendon which presses the keyboard button every 2 seconds for a whole hour consistently and repetitively, can also become strained.

So, I found a really cool auto-clicking program called “AutoMouseClicker” where you can set the automatic clicking intervals.

Doing so, then the pages turn by themselves. Therefore Speed Reading becomes a lot of easier. So no more worries about any RSI. I currently set an 1.5" interval per “page change” and the program does the “turning” chore for me.

The next step is to get a casual rest of the optical nerves in both eyes, which obviously cannot cope with such high-speed reading modes all the time. Maybe it’s possible for a just few hours, daily; depending on how adapted are your eye saccades to perform such an activity.

Another step is to get good eye-nutrition (such getting lutein from tomatoes, or beta-carotene for eyes ) and foods with B6 vitamin which helps regulate the nervous system.

Overall, it’s fun processing information, quite fast. The major advantage is that after you finish with all the fast reading, you get lots of free time. And free time is always valuable.

So, good luck to anyone who is trying Speed Reading. Even as hobbie, it can save you lots of time.


Best of luck to you in the competition. Be aware there are often unexpected conditions that surprise competitors when an event begins. These are often surprises for the contest planners as well. Leaving room to allow for such disasters can give you an advantage over other competitors.

Not to brag but as I mentioned long ago the most comfortable speed reading I used to do was at 6 to 700 WPM, not far from the 800 number stated recently.

Reading through this thread after so long I am reminded why I do not speed read anymore. When I take time to read I am not in any hurry. In fact when I finish the book I wish there was more of it. Back in school the goal was to get finished with a book and onto the next but now it is reversed. Finding a book to enjoy is not always easy.

If there is still any interest I would be willing to write up the old Rapid Reading drill we used to do in the EW class. It will not take quite as much space as the last method, as long as I don’t post it too many times.

Hi Plungerman,

Thanks a lot for your wishes. We will be 31 competitors for the Speed-reading categories in 2 weeks in Las Vegas. It’s about half an hour of speedreading. There are 2750 $ and 3 medals involved, just for this category, so I hope to do well.

But currently, I’m occupied with arithmetic and calendar training , so I haven’ managed to do enough speedreading drills, so besides speed-reading some US travel guides (a few dozens of them), which I enjoy because their relate to my trip.

But I think at this moment, this kind of speedreading training does not matter much, and my performance will depend heavily on the content of the given text on Nov. 10. (day of the competition).
If I’m not very bored from the random text, (e.g if it would something like random fiction literature) then I’ll try to answers all multiple questions correctly after speedreading the (printed) text. I don’t know the page format, but if it’s formatted like a normal book, I’ll aim to speedread about 2 or 3 pages per minute.

The word count numbers like “1K or 2K” WPM or so, don’t mean as much as the medals do. And for your info, the Turkish Memoriad 2016 winner, 3 weeks ago had about 966 raw WPM with 60% comprehension, therefore around actual 580 WPM. These are actual numbers and facts and not unsubstantiated claims. The Memoriad organization has lots of witnesses and is strict about the validity of records.

I know people claim to read higher than that, but that winning score of around 580 WPM happened in an actual competition which mattered. Also, on the Memoriad rules it’s set that the Speed-Reading winner has to read at least 625 raw WPM, to get the Gold, otherwise no winner will be declared.

So, obviously the actual goal of this competition is to browse the text at least with 60% comprehension
and NOT to “read” with 10K+ WPM (which is usually skimming and not reading anyway)

I’ll keep you updated here about the actual speedreading scores of the contest in Vegas.


Word for word reading creates a single focus point without distraction of moving or pointing a pen or object. It narrows the peripheral vision, so I recon one should do exercise that widens this to compensate long term result towards narrow field vision?

I am using and input txt files derived of pdf versions of books. This goes up to 800wpm. I have noticed that by pushing the wpm increases the strain put on the mind, but after recovery (I take power naps) the comprehension of the text stretches.

Has anyone tried speed reading with one text running with a delay on a different eye? As in one eye reading ahead and the other reading it a second time… This is just a wild guess but using both eyes to read one word at the same time seems regarding the subject a deprivation of information or input.

I am aware that we are not mantis shrimp, but adaptation is human strongest ability, so I recon this could be trained…

Wow, this is a big discussion. I wonder if there will ever be a time when I feel qualified to answer a question. Well I’m going to do it anyway.

The idea of speed reading has always been a appealing one, especially with my relatively recent beginnings in college, and I naturally started looking into it after I heard about it. Now I would not say that the research I conducted was exhaustive by any stretch but I did stumble into an interesting facet to this problem that, forgive me if I am mistaken, has yet to be examined; The physical aspect to speed reading. Now I am not going to to try to explain it myself as I have not researched the topic in something like a year, long before I used memory techniques so I’m not that trusting of the memories lol, so I will link to videos of a you-tuber who very eloquently explains why speed-reading, while potentially possible, is limited by the physical capabilities of the human eye. The you-tuber in question is called Thomas Frank and his channel is a great resource to anyone going to college or trying to be more productive in life.

The video in question: (part 1) (part 2)

Well that’s my two cents, I hope it sparks someones interest. Christian

P.S. I am not terribly familiar with the forum rules on posting youtube links, I have seen some others post them so that’s what I am going off of but if it is a problem let me know and I will gladly take them down and put the video titles up instead.

It’s okay to post relevant YouTube links as long as it isn’t self-advertising. We even have a video section, though it needs some work. :slight_smile:

I bought the book “Remember everything you read” by Stanley D. Frank. I want to ask if someone could give me a link to a site that explains (or could explain to me or give me a link to a video on YouTube) what he means by “layered reading” in Chapter 4?

Thank you,
if this is against the rules you can delete the post.

If I wanted to look into speedreading what are some of the better books on the topic?
Along with that… on whether or not literature could be truly appreciated using speed reading here are some thoughts I have thrown around in my mind.
I do love literature fiction and non-fiction and there are some non-fiction books I don’t think I’d care to speed read. However, there are some novels I would love to be able to read but lack time. I have a long list of classics I would like to read due to the fact that I did not grow up a reader. So, if I went to read a novel, I could approach it with speed the first time around. If it was a novel worthy of further/deeper reading then I could re-read it (possible with speed again). And lastly, I could read the book a normal pace. By reading it once or twice with speed I would have a general (or hopefully more than general) lay of the land. Then upon reading it at a regular pace I might be able to enjoy the greater depth of the reading experience and get to know the book better. A good friend of mine, who is not a fan of speed reading, told me “you have not really read a book until you have read it four times.” He discusses the multiple layers of reading which is fascinating and I feel like they might be compatible with the idea of speed reading a book multiple times.
Anyhow, none of my thoughts mentioned above are concrete as I certainly have not tested them. The friend I mention is worthy of a listen. He is not a memory champion and not a fan of speed reading. However, he is a serious reader and loves to open up texts at the deeper levels.

even though I didn’t / don’t understand your post. I kinda get what he says about layered reading. Also there is a system he teaches (Mr Frank) that says that you have to read the text / book multiple times to understand it fully.

I’ll try to post my experiences when I can.


The layered reading and reading something 4 times, may be referring to the SQ4R reading method.
I don’t think it matters what the R’s are called, they all direct you to read in layers for a purpose.
I tested this method against my own READ, TAKE NOTES, CROSS FINGERS system.
Actually the SQ4R method is faster because I remembered so much more, saving a lot of review time.

a few links you may find helpful

Deleted this comment because I made a topic about it.

It is possible read in high speed 2000, even 4000 words a minute? Well guys my interest is the same of you all. Now I really believe YES and I will explain why.
For years I was looking for something really meaningful in memorization. In fact for me I just don’t use mnemonics before because I was very skeptical about the whole process what for me was unnatural way to learn. Then I read about the fantastic records in memory championships and it was clear that is possible. I watch videos, talks at TED and all guys were telling the same thing about typically using the same method (Loci, etc…) But my mind is not easy… then It was necessary convince myself then with scientific facts reading academic articles til I found one excelent about how mnemonics reshapen the neural network. Since this weekend I started to study a lot about memorization process, methods etc.
Its possible read and memorize a deck of card in 14 sec? We know yes due guys like Zou Lujian (IGM).
And what is the record for fast readers?
"The “The Guinness World Record Book” recognized Howard Berg in 1990 for his ability to read more than 25,000 words per minute and write more than 100 words per minute. Berg has built a career as a speed reader and sharing his knowledge with the world. "
So yes. It is possible. But what this guy does is read around 416 wors for second
How he does it?
I really dont know. But is possible. He does!

I’d be cautious about claims like reading 25,000 words per minute. A good guideline is “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Professional mentalists are often more clever than the people who are testing them. :slight_smile:

I recommend reading the page here. A Google search for information that contradicts the claims will turn up more information.

It seems to be unknown how Guinness did their speed reading tests. Wikipedia says: “the Guinness Speed Reading World Record Standards are not known and they have terminated adding speed readers to its honor list.”

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I agree, Josh. The six time world champion Anne Jones is recorded for 4200wpm with previous exposure to the material and 67% comprehension. What is exceptional. But it is a incredible fact if may read something even a 3000 words per minute. There is a real evidence anyway that read 10x more than normal speed in a minute is possible (250-400wpm) with reasonable training.

So just I would like try the concepts explained on this methods to obtain a better reading speed to save more time while I am studying, because it is my goal. My speed reading actually is just 400wpm with very reasonable comprehension, 600wpm dismiss so much yest my comprehension (by while). Any improvement ahead what I will obtain I will share here.

I’m not sure about that. Maybe there are some persons that are able to read with extraordinary speed. But does this really imply that speed reading is possible with reasonable training?

In my opinion, one of the main obstacles is the visual perception system. Please take a look at the anatomy of the eye, especially the retina.

According to Wikipedia, the entire retina contains about 7 million cones and 75 to 150 million rods. But there are only around one million ganglion cells that transfer informations to the brain, so there are cells in between that do some kind of processing and compression. Usually the resulting resolution in the peripheral vision field is too low to recognize words. Please take a look at this picture on Wikipedia:

You can try it yourself. Look at a word near the center of a paragraph and try to recognize words at the edge of the paragraph without glimpsing.

A fixation needs some time, which further decreases the limit for reading speed.

Is it possible to train the retina to recognize text in a bigger area with one fixation? I have no idea. Let’s assume it isn’t, but there are people with a special retina. Maybe they have more ganglion cells than usual so they can indeed read text in the peripheral vision field. Or their ganglion cells are more evenly distributed instead concentrated at the fovea. This would lead to the situation that only few people with a special anatomy are able to learn highspeed reading.

Please correct me if I got something wrong. I’m not a physician.

That issue is one that is not a limiting factor yet. You can make out a lot more words in a line and you can read them within your peripheral vision but you can’t exactly recall them as easily, you could port your eyes between every 3 words or so if that was the critical issue.

If you try to visualize the words in your mind, you have difficulty seeing them all at once and reading the words even if you make them up, so I would say there is more to it then that. e.g if you visualize a pile of oranges you can’t count them easily in packs of 14 even in your mind, but you don’t really have a visual perception issue.

It certainly is one of the main obstacles but it is sort of an unknown factor till the others are solved.

It would be interesting if we were to run tests of different training methods to overcome any limitation, there are certainly things that can be done that haven’t been done before , who knows maybe actual speed reading will come into existence.
If all else fails the subvocalization speed should just be increased. For me it is still a wonder why I can listen to songs which say the words 5x faster than I can possible subvocalize them and yet I can recall the song off the top of my head. In my opinion there are many many ways to the same end yet at the same time for now there isn’t a satisfactory speed reading method out there.