A Guide to Speed Reading

The PX Project is a single 3-hour “cognitive experiment” designed to increase your reading speed. Average increases using the technique are apparently in the region of 386%. The technique seems to involve three steps:

  • Minimize the number and duration of fixations per line.
  • Eliminate regression and back-skipping.
  • Use conditioning drills to increase horizontal peripheral vision span and the number of words registered per fixation.

Derren Brown has embedded a short video discussing the technique (3m 38s) on his site.

When thinking of speed reading my first reaction is not dissimilar to Felix Salmon’s:

When you read fast and don’t subvocalize, do you start to miss the art of constructing or even just appreciating beautiful sentences? Would a speed reader, for instance, ever be able to write a book like [Nicholson Baker’s] U&I?

But this quote from the article made me realise that even if you can speed read, you don’t have to speed read:

Final recommendations: If used for study, it is recommended that you not read 3 assignments in the time it would take you to read one, but rather, read the same assignment 3 times for exposure and recall improvement, depending on relevancy to testing.

I would go one further and say; If the book is to be read for pleasure, don’t speed read. For all other instances, the above applies.