Slow vs Speed Reading. We Know Which is Better!


Millions of books are published annually worldwide.

The indexed part of web has more than 5.75 billion written pages. There is a lot of information to grasp, but in our busy lives most of us don’t have much time for it.

People nowadays are obsessed with productivity and speed at any cost, and it isn’t a surprise that there is a solution for it.

It is known as speed reading, it also promises to help people reading at more than 1000 words in a minute – which is higher than 200 to 400 words in a minute.

This is easy to read for many people. While this might sound quite fantastic, let’s find out how true it is?

Slow vs speed reading- which is better?

Speed reading is hard at the beginning, but after some practice it helps you retain more information and consume more books.

Obviously speed reading depends on various factors like reading skills and objectives and whether they’re reading GQ or Sir Issac Newton’s theories on Physics.

Pros of speed reading

Lots of teachers and parents believe that slow reading results in better concentration.

While slow reading helps in comprehending situations or theories but with this form of reading the mind can wander back to older paragraphs and kids usually forget anything that they read.

With quick reading the wandering mind element gets eliminated.

  • Understanding and Comprehension- Quick reading doesn’t mean that one skips on comprehending material. This is understood through comparing the way you’re reading books to way you can read novels.
  • Retention and Memory - No link exists between memory and slow reading. Slow reading is known to encourage a wandering mind and it makes concentration more difficult.
  • Better concentration- The human brain grasps knowledge and information at a higher speed and through reading one word at a time, while the brain begins daydreaming. It would take around 25 minutes for brain for returning back focus to the task. After quick reading, concentration doesn’t waver and anyone can totally focus on a certain subject.
  • Natural speed reading - It has been scientifically proven that reading comes through learning. It breaks down belief that human beings have been born through certain reading speeds and it can’t get improved. Reading skills are different from person to person but no such thing like the natural speed of reading’ exists.

Students can read all sentences and words in text books quite slowly as they’ve thought that it is only way of learning.

After picking up novels, they move quickly through different paragraphs while still understanding everything. The reader must know that many words are there that aren’t vital to the paragraph’s meaning. They are meant to be read for ideas, instead of words.

Pros of slow reading

While there might be many cool reasons as to why read fast, the most vital one is always being able to avoid any spoilers.

However, in fact, reading on the slow spectrum side actually becomes quite beneficial, both for intellectual and mental growth. Here are a few good reasons to go slow while reading.

  • Slow reading reduces stress- Reading slowly in an engaging manner means putting away social media and phone (as they’ve got a negative effect on attention spans). Your mind can focus at one place while you’re reading. This keeps you from often checking for mail, social messages, and scrolling news.
  • You get better knowledge- This is among the key benefits of slow reading as it can affect the ability to absorb new information and connecting to new facts as well. This helps your brain to absorb facts of anything that you’re reading (whether it is a short newspaper article or non-fiction book) you make it easier for connecting, “web of knowledge” that you already possess, and it is covered with ideas, facts, and memories in brain.
  • Slow reading improves thinking ability- According to an article in the Guardian, our online reading habits damage mental faculties required for understanding and processing lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock new feeds can leave us hyperlinking from one article towards next.

This happens without necessarily totally engaging with any content. You might think that hopping between different articles in a day can do opposite.

However, it actually keeps you from learning new things and grasping that information.

Slow reading is more engaging

Imagine you’re watching your favorite movie in fast forwarded mode and haven’t understood the climax. While going through speed reading books, you’re doing the same. While indulging in the story plots and essence of books, you can actually have more fun.

It helps in reading more

While this might seem counterintuitive, but through reading more in slow pace, you can read more than going in speed reading mode.

Why you would want to? To read slow and intently, you need to spare some reading time. Whereas quick readers grab around 15 minutes on commute or 30 minutes prior to falling asleep at nighttime.

Slow readers make reading ritual, and commitment while gradually working their way through more books in a month compared to another reader squeezing around.

So which is better for whom?

Not all methods of reading deliver the same outcome. There are three general ways to consume content, and significant differences are there in the reading speed.

  • Better mental reading – It is when you’re sounding each word in internal way, as if you’re reading yourself. It is a slow reading form, with average of around 250 words read per minute. You can try reading again this paragraph inside your head by clearly sounding each word. It is also known as silent speech or subvocalization.
  • Auditory reading – It happens each time after listening to an audiobooks and hearing the words out. It is a quick process when compared to the process of mental reading, which is at around 450 words in a minute on average.
  • Visual reading – There isn’t much research available but the visual reading form is after understanding the meaning of words without hearing or sounding them.

This has been supposed to remain like getting images popped in the head as you’ve read content, with increase in speed of around 700 words each minute.

What style of reading works better for you help you in consuming content quickly, but, eventually, no magic wand is there with special training available for making you read quicker than average words in a minute without damaging the comprehension?

And there isn’t any point of quick reading if you’re not able to understand or recall a thing.

The case with slow reading is that it shouldn’t need to wait, but if it isn’t scheduled. Blocking the chunks of time for deep focus on book is among the best investments for the mind. Rather than reading quicker, you can also strive for better reading.

How to read faster?

The use of lots of vocabulary is meant for describing the process of speed reading and it might sound like science. With speed reading, you have methods like scanning, chunking, reduction of subvocalization and use of Meta guiding for quicker reading.

For example, reading first sentence of a paragraph for determining whether it is worth for seeking details or whether moving on is better.

You can visually guide eyes through the use of finger, so the eyes can move well along passage text length.

Fortunately, many researchers have spent lots of time while looking into speed reading for understanding whether it works well or not.

Have you got the paperwork for getting through with the deadline? Or do you have to read? Would you simply like to read quickly? Whether it is for personal reasons or is it for work?

How can you read quickly? Here are some proven ways for helping in increasing reading speed.

Stopping Inner Monologue

Inner monologue or subvocalization is highly common among the readers. This is the process of speaking words in the head as you’re reading, and it is also the largest obstacle getting in way of you increasing the speed of reading.

When listening to voices in the head when you’re reading, make sure to not fret. If you wish to increase the speed, it is the first thing that you should overcome.

Why it slows you down? The average reading speed is the same as the average talking speed. According to Forbes, the average reading speed for adults is around 300 words in a minute.

Word Chunking

It is similar to the idea of terminating inner monologue. By this we mean reading various words once, and this the key to faster reading. People can take in various words at a time, even though we’re trained – mentioned in inner monologue – for reading each word at a time while not missing one single article.

Use of peripheral vision is a great way to ease this step.

Avoiding Rereading Words on Page

If you look at an average reader, you’ll notice that they jump and also flit about. Not only have they evenly flowed back and forth.

This is because the average person- you also do this – tends to backtrack over words already read. It is one thing preventing from increasing reading speed.

Use of Peripheral Vision

You can use from above techniques for viewing and comprehending various words at once. Rather than chunking in little word groups, you can read one line at a time. It also involves looking at the line center, and using the peripheral vision for reading the rest.

Are you dumb if you read slow?

Slow readers generally read slower than everyone else and try to grasp everything.

However, this might give them the inferiority complex and it might feel like forever while reading. Slow readers easily relate to anxiety and self-doubt. While watching everyone around finishing, slow readers often get stuck on the same one, but all of this is relative.

While you might feel like a dumb person if you haven’t finished early, this isn’t the case with reading. There can be many reasons as to why you’re reading slowly such as:

You’re not an avid reader – If you’re new to reading, you might not be equal with everyone else and it would require some time and patience to finish reading and thoroughly understanding that book.

You get bored – It is common to get bored when you’re reading the same book for a long time. Slow readers generally get dispirited while they’re on the same book for long.

Considering that intelligence comprises various cognitive skills and abilities, and processing speed is only a single aspect, assuming someone isn’t intelligent due to their slowness is not logical.

There isn’t any consistent link between intelligence and speed. Also according to various researches, it has been suggested that taking additional learning time results in information getting processed deeply, resulting in better accuracy in the long run.

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