As a former literature grad, who often had to whizz though 4 or 5 books in a week and still retain enough information to make salient remarks in tutorials I know the importance of being able to read and comprehend at speed. And speaking as someone with four volumes of Journey to the West waiting for me to crack open and plough through, it’s a useful skill to have. Books are cheap and plentiful – and more often than not a button press away. Couple that with easy access to long-form online journalism on the iPad and the benefits of being able to zip through text – without ruining the enjoyment or your understanding – should be apparent i.e, you can read more.
I’ve dabbled in speed reading before – primarily as a child after being exposed to Jonny 5 in the Short Circuit movies and then, slightly less whimsically, when I decided to read the 100 greatest books of all time in a year when I was 17. However, beyond a few loose techniques and half remembered hints like “stare at blocks” or “scan downwards”, I never really mastered reading at breakneck speeds. So I was keen to give Reading Trainer on the iPad a try. After all – who wouldn’t want to be able to speed read? It’s a totally underrated superpower.
The Reading Trainer app helps with the rapid recognition of numbers, letters and words, gives you flexible eye movements, increased vision span and improved concentration skills. As series of tests and games assess your level and continually mark your progress –which should hopefully motivate you to stick out the course of the program. The app will select a difficulty level for you based on a preliminary test. Once you clear that hurdle the exercises are broken up into short little chunks – giving you no real excuse not to have short daily ten minute stabs at it. Unless you are lazy.
The app is a little boastful (speed readers are a cocky bunch). ” Do you currently need 30 minutes to read the daily paper? Soon you will read two papers and, in addition, another chapter in an interesting non-fiction book – within the same time period…Trial users have used this software to increase their reading speed by an average of 143% in 10 days. ” I do wonder what level they started off at and how extensive these test were. But then again, you should really exercise a sensible amount of caution for pretty much all “scientific” marketing text.
As for me? I started out at an intermediate level and after casually using the app for a few days left a little faster. It’s fairy priced at $4.99 although you will get what you put in – so you do need to put the hours in to improve. You might be able to pick up a book of speed reading techniques for that price but I doubt it. Hyperbole aside, Reading Trainer seems like a good way to beef up your reading skills – it won’t be a radical overhaul, but if you are hoping to up your reading skill by a few notches it’s definitely work the money.
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