[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an occasional series of guest blogs from a variety of AceReader users.]
I’m currently in the 10th grade at Richard Montgomery High School, and I’ve been using the AceReader program on-and-off since I was about eight or nine years old.
Reading has been a part of my life for pretty much as long as I can remember, though I don’t consider myself to be a particularly active reader. When I was in kindergarten, I enjoyed both reading and being read to – they were fun and interesting. As I grew older, I read less, mostly picking up something to read through only in my free time.
Around the time I was eight or nine, my family became friends with Miriam Ruff, AceReader’s head of content development, and she introduced me to the program. At that time it was a desktop program, so I had to download and install it, but it worked great. I started using it to better understand the material I was given in school, and I expected it to be something that would improve my reading speed. It has not only met but exceeded my expectations in that way.
When I started using AceReader, I would practice every other day. It took a little time until I saw results, but then my reading speed went up fairly quickly, and my eye span definitely got wider. As I got older, I got in the habit of using the program about 35 minutes per week, and I’ve been able to keep improving my scores. Now I read at more than double my starting speed while maintaining above 80% comprehension on the readings. This is also the case when I read material on paper instead of the program’s readings on the screen. Now it’s a completely online platform, which means I can use it from anywhere. Mostly I work in the Course Mode, performing the activities in order, but I sometimes use the Menu Mode if I want to take another comprehension test or assessment to see where my scores are at.
I find the content very interesting, and I enjoy learning new things each time I read a passage. I find that this also helps me approach my school material, and I am able to understand it better than when I wasn’t using the program.
I think the drills are probably the best part of the program. You have to read the passage four times, and for the second and third times you have to read significantly faster than the first; the last time you read it a bit slower, but it’s still faster than the first time you did it. I think these exercises really push my speed and allow me to increase my speed quickly. After I do a set of drills, I can tell that I have improved my reading skills at least a little. The Course Mode, though, puts a game directly after the drills and before a comprehension test, and I think if I were tested immediately, my scores would be even higher. I mentioned this to Ms. Ruff, and she told me that it is possible to change the settings so that you can do the exercises “out of order.” This is one of the ways you can customize the program to fit your personal needs. There are many other options available, like changing font size and color and the way the material is presented on the screen, and you can even upload your own material for practice.
I’m heading into Montgomery’s IB program next year [Editor’s Note: From the IB website (www.ib.org): Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programmes of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.], and I know I’m going to have a lot of “small print” reading to do for my courses. I will continue to use the AceReader program to stay on top of the material, as well as to help me on timed tests like the SAT.
In all, I would recommend AceReader for anyone who wants to improve their reading speed and comprehension in a way that challenges you but doesn’t overwhelm you.