- Press START TEST. Read the text at your own pace.
- In the end press STOP TEST. Your reading speed is displyed on the screen.
- Press OK and complete immediately the questionnaire for conclusive results.
- Press SHOW MEMORY RESULT, check the correct answers and SEND QUESTIONNAIRE.
Andrew was heading towards a fancy restaurant, in which he knew the food was excellent. Some time ago he had the chance to meet the chef, a veritable Italian, whom the third youth already passed, but so did his third wife. Now he was together with a girl, at least twenty years younger than him. As he heard, the girl was truly in love with him. The Italian’s heritage was an extraordinary pasta receipt, a sauce which would have satisfy even the fiercest critique. Andrew loved the fact that the sauce always had the same taste. As if the Italian made the sauce years ago in huge amounts and now, he lived of the stored jars. Andrew allowed himself a smile. He was alone in the car. The streets were dry and kind of empty for that time of the day.
The man who was waiting for him in front of the restaurant wasn’t even by far the way he imagined him, meaning a grey-haired old man, with a prominent beard, grey as well, with a belly he didn’t even try to hide anymore. No, the man in front of the restaurant was young, with an age close to his, slender, elegant, with a nice haircut, clean. The perfume he wore increased his masculine stature and his confidence as well. For a few moments, Andrew told himself this was not the psychologist he had a meeting with.
- Mister Andrew? – the young man approached him, exactly when he was going to search for the psychologist’s phone number to ask him when will he arrive.
The formalities and the introduction to the discussion were carefully chosen, each of them trying to show as accurately as possible their status. The meal was, as usual, delicious. Both of them were hungry and thirsty. They ordered a bottle of wine. The restaurant had a familiar vibe, having only a few tables inside and most of them with maximum four seats. It was fancy, without strident colours and on the ceiling, there was a wallpaper with a house in the middle of a vineyard, probably somewhere in Tuscany.
- Delicious meal! – the psychologist exclaimed at the end of the dish. I would like to meet the chef! I would like to invite him to some of the parties that I organize.
- I can get you in touch with him – I said to him, founding myself delighted by the fact that the food was just as I told him it would be.
The psychologist waved his hand to show he doesn’t care, taking a big sip of white wine, from a tall glass.
- The mess created in our minds by the multitude of information we get from our environment gave birth to the need of dealing with this situation more effectively. So, some people speculated and “invented” all sorts of methods, which they promote in a strongly motivational manner. It is the case of speed reading as well! They promise outstanding results, such as doubling or even tripling the reading speed, all this in a weekend-long intensive course. Obviously, very expensive. But the presented methods suffer a lot in the substantiation chapter. The principles that stand at the base of speed reading are superficial or just partially understood and presented. Or there is a confusion between speed reading and practical methods to skim through a text, such as scanning and photoreading. The most “sold” methods on the market under the name of speed reading are just methods of skimming the text. They emphasize on identifying some important aspects in the text, keywords, verbs etc. and extracting the meaning of the text with these. The anchors are those words that you remember by photoreading a text. It is far from me to criticize these methods. They can be really helpful when we don’t have the necessary time to read a text or when we have to decide whether it is interesting to read or not. Their main deficiency is that this way you don’t read the entire text, thus exposing yourself to understanding it wrongly or incompletely. Speed reading doesn’t have his deficiency. Speed reading means that you read the entire text, but in a faster manner than what we are used to. Although, this fast manner to read is not something new for us. By speed reading we do not change the way we read, we just optimize it. Meaning, we still read from left to right, from up to down, but we read groups of adjoined words and not word by word, this way reading, understanding and memorizing faster and easier. All these have a well-known scientific background. This is what I would like to discuss today. What do you think, when we read, which part of the information is more important? The visual aspect or the meaning of the information?
- I don’t get it…
- The scope of our meeting is speed reading, am I right? Well – he continued after Andrew finished nodding his head as a sign of affirmation – I have to start somewhere. And for you to understand as well as possible what speed reading means, I will make a short incursion in the anatomical sense behind this action. You probably didn’t think about how the brain works while you read. Well, the two types of information that I mentioned are in different centres. Visual information is processed in the brain’s frontal lobe and the meaning of it is processed in the occipital lobe, at the back of our head. What is more, one of these ways of processing is dominant. I am talking about the one that processes the meaning of the information and not it’s visual aspect. You have probably seen those texts where some letters were switched to numbers that looked like the letters (A with 4 etc.) and that you could still read them without any problems.
- Yes, I’ve read texts like these! But I still don’t understand what does this have to do with speed reading…
- Normal reading doesn’t highlight enough the dominant character of the brain of processing the meaning of the information. A part of our psychical resources are used on useless processes, which don’t have a place in speed reading. The emphasis is on the visual aspect of the text (the format and colour of the letters etc.). Sometimes it happens that you have to return to a text to understand better what you’ve read?
- Yes, sometimes quite frequently, if the text is more complicated. And…
- Before we clarify the issue of processing the information let’s stop and focus a bit on how the eyes function. The eyeballs’ muscles are the fastest ones in our body. But you already knew this! What you don’t know yet is that the visual field can also be extended to read more words at once, and to word by word how we were taught to do when we were little. All you have to do is, when you look at the text, try to focus on adjoined words, not just a single word. You can get to the performance to group and read at once even seven words. In this case, you peripheral vison needs to be trained as well and your attention needs to be on capturing the words and then, gradually on understanding and memorizing the text.
- Yes, and this is not all! Since we were small children, we learned to read aloud, meaning by moving our vocal chords. Meanwhile, we gave up on this action and moved on to mute reading, meaning that we read in our mind. However, our vocal chords continue to move when we read. It is a reflex that we learned and associated with reading while we were learning it. This is the main cause why our usual reading speed is approximately 250 words per minute.
- You mean, that when I read, I move my vocal chords?
- Exactly, thing that slows down your cognitive processes, you brain having to execute more actions at the same time, of which at least the moving of vocal chords is useless and resource consuming. Imagine how it would be like if you stopped using your vocal chords and your brain could use all this saved energy to stimulate the dominant way of processing the information, thus improving your reading speed and your memorizing capacity.
- So, should I understand that this is your role in the story of speed reading? To tech me how to stop moving my vocal chords while reading?
- Yes, this as well. At a certain moment, when you will manage to read faster, your vocal chords won’t be able to keep up with the pace at which you will move your eyes on the text. Then, this automatism will be disabled, and the resources your brain uses will be redistributed.
The wine made their voices to sound a bit tangled. After some time, they both decided that it was better if they stopped now and continued at another time, Andrew saying that he was convinced by the discussion they had. He wanted to continue, to get to read a lot faster. He needed this.