Want to supercharge your reading speed while miraculously retaining every word? Well, don’t hold your breath.

The Guardian reports on a study just published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, which looked at the practice of speed reading in light of research on reading generally. Despite the many programs and apps out there claiming to help, they came away skeptical, saying there’s no “magic bullet” and suggesting that most of us can’t have it both fast and comprehensive.

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“It is unlikely that readers will be able to double or triple their reading speeds (eg from around 250 to 500–750 words per minute) while still being able to understand the text as well as if they read at normal speed,” the paper suggests. Don’t tell me what I can’t do!!!

One of the people who worked on the paper, University of California psychologist Elizabeth Schotter, said:

“The scientific field of reading research has discovered a lot about the process of reading over several decades (even over a century) and that knowledge has important implications for these speed reading techniques,” she said. “In fact, many of the claims of speed reading aren’t accurate, given what we know about how reading works. We felt it was important to communicate this to the general public so that they can make informed decisions before they enrol in speed reading classes or buy a speed reading app.”

War and Peace will just have to wait.


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.

Photo via Getty.