Who Can Benefit From Speed Reading?

Speed reading skills can be very advantageous to people in a variety of situations and circumstances. Some educational institutions, recognizing this need, offer courses and programs that promise to teach speed reading ability in a relatively short period of time. The popularity of these courses among students and teachers indicates a particular application of speed reading in academic matters, but the skill has relevant applications in other areas as well. It must be remembered, however, that speed reading is not for everyone, and it is not recommended for certain kinds of reading.

Many people embark on a speed reading program because they have a need for large amounts of information, but severe limitations on the time available for reading. The ability to read quickly can be useful for anyone in this situation. Students at high school or post-secondary levels frequently have long reading lists, and, depending on the kind of text books they are required to read, some skimming ability may be appropriate. Only a cursory understanding is needed for some required readings, and if this is the case, speed reading can be very useful.

Certain university courses tend to have much heavier reading requirements than others because of the nature of the course itself. Literature and history students, for example, can find themselves burdened with enormous amounts of required reading, and without some kind of speed strategy they would find it impossible to complete it in the limited time available. Many students enrolled in these programs find that speed reading ability allows them to achieve a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the basic texts.

Speed reading courses have also become very popular with white collar workers and others who are involved in the business and corporate world. Businesses today are information based, and employees are expected to be knowledgeable and up to date on a variety of issues and policies. Normal business procedures frequently require daily reading of new reports, letters, faxes, and memos, and the ability to read quickly and efficiently can be an enormous benefit to both employers and employees. But even for simple pleasure reading, the ability to skim information has its uses. Newspapers and magazines can contain enormous amounts of text, and readers who are skilled in speed strategies can find it useful to get the gist of articles by quickly skimming through.

Speed reading is not recommended for some readers. Children under ten who are still learning how to read, for example, should be encouraged to read slowly and carefully until they have mastered the basics of reading. Likewise, those who have difficulty reading or suffer from dyslexia, regardless of age, need to concentrate on individual words and phrases. Any attempt to speed read can be counterproductive for them. Also some types of reading cannot be skimmed because of their complexity and analytical format. Readings in philosophy, psychology, and science, for example, can be difficult to understand, and, in this type of text, it is necessary to focus on each point of an argument or expository account.

Speed reading programs are generally worthwhile for people who need to read large amounts of written text in a short period of time. It is not the solution to every reading problem, however, and it is not a skill that can be mastered easily. Nevertheless, students and others who feel it would be useful in their particular circumstances should not hesitate to consider enrolling in a speed-reading course.