The Tachistoscope for Reading Fluency

A tachistoscope shows a flashcard image of a word or phrase for a very brief period of time, with the goal of developing the subject’s sight comprehension of what was shown.

During World War II, the US Armed Forces, led by Samuel Renshaw (1892-1981), an American psychologist, taught sailors and pilots how to identify enemy/friendly craft in a split second. The pilots were shown images of planes and ships for only a few hundredths of a second, and they had to determine what it was they had seen.

This training, known as the “Renshaw Training System for Aircraft and Ship Recognition,” was a success. Upon completing the program, subjects could identify more types of planes and ships (enemy and friendly) with greater accuracy and a faster recognition time.

Also known as FRT (Flash Recognition Training), the tachistoscope is still being used today to help train military and law enforcement professionals.

The tachistoscope is also being used to teach young children how to read faster and with greater comprehension.

During the 1920s, scientists began to believe the human brain reads in words, not in single letters. What trials showed was that the brain can absorb a coherent block of information by looking at a word or phrase on a flashcard after viewing it for only two milliseconds.[1]

Since tachistoscopic techniques can be designed to approximate the processes of normal reading, it’s become important as diagnostic tool for lagging students and a process for remedial measures. It can be used for an entire classroom of kids or adapted for individual diagnosis and training.[2]

AceReader has a built-in tachistoscope function to aid with faster and more accurate word recognition. Many of the Drills and Games rely on this function as part of the learning process, and students can adjust any included text, or text imported into the program, to display information in this way.

For more information about how the AceReader program can improve your reading speed and comprehension, visit us at




[1] 7 Speed Reading. (2023). “The Not-So Secret History of Speed Reading.” Retrieved from

[2]APA. (2022). “The use of the tachistoscope in diagnostic and remedial reading.” PsycInfo Database Record. Retrieved from


Author: AceReader Blogger

The AceReader blogging team is made up of specialists in a number of different areas: literacy, general education, content development, and educational software. For questions about posts, please submit them in the form below. For suggestions about blog topics, please email them to

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