Does Increasing Reading Speed Decrease Comprehension?

If you ask someone if they want to increase their reading speed, the answer is usually yes, but they don’t end up trying because they’re afraid of losing comprehension in the process. Do you really lose comprehension, or is this just a myth?

The answer is a bit of both. Increasing speed is, like learning any other skill, a process. When you first start a new subject in school or training at work, you probably feel a bit overwhelmed, uncertain if you’ll ever be able to incorporate the material into your normal routine. Because the path is new, you’re liable to make mistakes until you see how everything fits together and understand what it means.

The same thing is true of reading. When you start to open your eye span, the number of words you can absorb at a glance, you’re making demands of your peripheral vision that you haven’t done before. The process is bound to feel a bit uncomfortable, and as you try to figure it out, your comprehension  wavers. This is completely normal.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you should let your comprehension hit rock bottom. You’re likely to see values of about 75-80% while you’re making the transition. In fact, that’s the lower value AceReader sets as you move through the comprehension tests and drills. It’s the amount that provides enough comprehension so you know what the material is about, but it’s not so low that you have no idea what you’ve just read.

The 75% is also not an endpoint goal — it’s the acceptable value while you adjust to the higher speed and new techniques you’re learning. It may feel like you’re taking a step backward, but since you’ll be taking a big leap forward when you come out of the transition, it’s worth putting up with for the time being. Once things start to “click” in a couple of weeks, your comprehension will rise again to 90-100% of the material you read.

Readers: What’s been your personal experience with increasing reading speed? Do you have any insight to share with other readers? Please leave us your comments in the section below.

To view a selected list of important developments in American education, see “A Brief History of Education in America” here.

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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