Avoid Regression When Speed Reading


Regression is the behavior we engage when reading a book and we go back to re-read something we already read in order to be sure if we really understood the message we read.

Regression is just a mechanism of laziness. Our brain relies in the fact that you can go back and re-read at any time, so it relaxes and does not concentrate properly. Why should it concentrate on the reading if you can check it later at anytime? The brain is sure that it can check the text again at any moment so does not give its best at the time of reading. The result is that you have to go an read again the text, with a huge decrease in your reading speed.

Additionally, it may happen that you loose concentration and start thinking about whatever. Your brain is now lost in space. Again, the brain doesn’t really care about what you are reading, since you can perform regression and re-read later. Then it decides to daydream.

Another cause of regression is to doubt about the skills of oneself. In those cases, you do not trust yourself and what you have read. Since you want to be sure that you understood what you read you go back and read again the text in order to confirm to yourself that you were right (or not). This behavior is actually a lack of confidence in oneself.

Fortunately, you can learn to avoid regression, and at the same time improve your concentration power and increase your confidence in yourself. All at the same time and for the same price! How can you do it? With a very simple and effective technique.

The Technique

The technique to remove regression in your reading is very simple. The technique consists of reading for a given amount of time while following the next two principles.

  1. First you must set yourself in a state of trying to concentrate and read for a given time. You must commit to the activity of reading. It does not matter if finally you do not achieve it, but you must try your best. The exercise is just a matter of trying, but trying with all your heart.
  2. Second, you will need a white paper to cover the text. I recommend you to have a sheet of paper folded by the middle. Take the folded sheet and put it on top of the book, on top of the line you just read, covering it completely (watch picture below). As you read one line, push the sheet down to cover that line. Keep reading and pushing the sheet until it covers the whole page. Then switch to the next page and do the same. Having the paper covering the text prevents you from having a look to your previous read text. Of course, you will have the urge to do it, but you should never remove the paper to re-read. Yes, it may happen that you loose concentration and miss some lines. Do not worry. Keep reading and forget about that part. You will discover that you actually understood more than you thought.


The Workout

The workout to remove regression from your bad reading habits is actually very simple, and it usually takes less than a week to get rid of the habit. Perform the following workout for as long as you need to remove the habit of regression in you (as I said it usually takes below a week).

  • Select a book on paper to read. It has to be an easy book, neither dense nor important for you. A novel would do it.
  • Set aside half an hour of your time to perform the exercise without interruptions. You should be concentrated the whole half an hour.
  • Set your self in the state of mind of concentration and of no regression
  • Then speed read the took making use of the sheet of paper as described in the technique above. Speed read for half an hour. Do not hurry yourself. Just apply the speed reading technique at the same time that you move the paper along the book.


Regression is one of the habits that makes us decrease our speed while reading a lot. Fortunately, is an easy habit that can be corrected with very few sessions of training. Avoiding regression can increase your reading speed by many words per minute, hence, it is worth to dedicate some training sessions to get rid of the habit. As a bonus, your concentration power and confidence will increase. Go for it!
photo credit: Phil Denton via photopin cc

4 Responses to Avoid Regression When Speed Reading

  1. nami 22/08/2016 at 16:07 #

    thanks helped me alot 🙂

    • Rick T. 19/10/2016 at 18:53 #

      Our pleasure!

  2. Lauren 08/07/2017 at 16:56 #

    Thank you for this article !

    My problem is with reading on the computer …..

    Please, can you advise regarding this situation ?


  3. Dev 09/10/2019 at 10:10 #

    Thnx keep posting about this topic as we need more information on stopping regression.

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