You want to learn to speed read and you're doing a web search on the topic. Unless this is the first thing you have read, you have probably come across much negative talk about the possibility of ever really reading super fast and achieving good comprehension with speed. (Usually that comes from people who have either not engaged in the right type of training, or didn't train in the proper manner, but that's not the point here.) Many people have tried and failed to master comprehension at super fast speeds. Here is why that happens, and what you can do to overcome it.

Effective reading comprehension means your mind has the ability to interpret and respond to the visual stimuli of the print. It does not mean vocalizing aloud, or saying to yourself the words as they are written. That may be how you have been trained in the past and how you read now, but it is not effective reading and has speed limits of about 500-600 words per minute.

What this means is that we are creatures of habit. To master comprehension at fast speeds means we must build new efficient habits of our mind's response to print. All speed reading programs will teach you to move your eyes efficiently, but very few teach you how to mentally process what you see at these increased rates.

The problem of comprehension at high speeds is limited by these habits:

1. Your Own Brain Speed Comfort Zone - Your brain is habituated to work at certain speeds. More than likely, you are operating at a fraction of its capability. Almost anything can be learned at 2-10 times faster by merely thinking of your brain as a mental muscle. The more you exercise it, the more it grows and performs. By "playing with" (experiment, have fun, etc.) whatever you want to speed up in double, triple, quadruple speed, your brain will stretch its comfort zone to newer levels.

2. Old Programmed Expectations. Expecting to "read" and understand only comes from seeing the input (words) in grammatical order. This is a habit formed long ago. Using speed reading lingo, the term is sub-vocalization. Effective reading is not "talking in our head" the author's words in the order written. The brain can understand meaning without grammatical order. In fact, rarely do you think in grammatical structures. Me understand you do? How's that for an example! At first the sentence threw you off because of the grammatical sequence. But after a brief consideration, you understood the meaning of the sentence. Remember, since reading is thinking (responding to print in a meaningful way) we think in ideas, concepts, feelings, and images, not grammatical structures.

3. Reading Passively, not Actively. Most people think of reading as a passive activity. Observing from outside the reader, it appears very quiet. Many people use reading to fall asleep. But effective reading comprehension requires our mind to be actively thinking about the print, questioning the author, relating to previous knowledge, etc. Effective readers in fact show lots of brain wave activity in many areas of the brain. By not questioning, comparing, associating, feeling, seeing, etc. your reading is passive, regardless of whether you are reading fast or not. Ineffective readers display far less activity throughout the brain. Wake up your mind's response to the print!

4. The habit of reading words versus reading for meaning - you expect that only after reading each word in a sentence or paragraph, then the author's meaning comes to your understanding. Building word upon word to construct the ideas and concepts is how you now build your comprehension. This habit is a result from the previous two mentioned. On the other hand, brain science has shown that the brain makes connections in non-linear pathways. You are actually reading and comprehending in a far less efficient manner when your understanding comes from linear grammatical expectation.

This point on words versus whole meanings can be demonstrated by looking at a chair. When you "see" the chair, you don't first see a leg, then another leg, then another, then the seat, then the back support. You see the whole chair. Without this "whole," the brain struggles to make sense. This is true for reading. Learn to see the "wholes."

This requires a perceptual shift on how to comprehend. This shift in comprehension needs clear direction, practice, and repetition in order to retrain yourself to comprehending better at high speeds.

My experience teaching these skills has revealed two different challenges when it comes to learners.

1. If a learner is very good with comprehension when starting the program, they tend to hold themselves back on speed because they resist the change in how to comprehend. If you already comprehend well, know that there is another more efficient approach. Let yourself go when practicing at high speeds and learn the difference in comprehension.

2. If the learner is weak or merely satisfactory with comprehension, they tend to resist reading in the first place and often will not do the necessary skill building. In fact, one of the best ways to improve reading skills is to read more in a wider variety of subjects than you normally choose. This gives the brain more paths to making the associations mentioned earlier.

You can overcome the above challenges then, by getting proper effective training, proper practice, and a willingness to sit through some uncomfortableness while you perceptually transition your skills and build better approaches to comprehension so you can read really fast!

If you really want to overcome your inefficient reading habits and want to achieve succees in these skills, then go to:

Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn to read more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at He is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and, Inc. You can learn more at and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading." To read more about the Dynamic Speed Reading Masters program go to: