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Does Reading Speed Correlate With Intelligence?

This question is very interesting. Are you smart if you read fast? And are you dumb if you read slow? Research shows there is no strong correlation between reading speed and IQ. There is a stronger relation between reading and IQ.

People who read a lot are exposed to more information. This helps them to understand more. And yes… there are always outliers. Some high IQ people hardly ever read while people with low IQ may read a lot. 

Before we dive deeper into the whole reading speed and IQ story, it is important to define them. 

Defining Reading Speed

Reading speed is basically the number of words you can read in a certain time. Most of the time this is shown in words per minute. It can also be pages per minute if you read really fast. It is important to note that reading speed is not a measure of how well you are reading or how much you comprehend. 

Speed reading is often referred to as reading faster than average. There are many ways to increase your reading speed. I believe the first thing you should focus on is not just increasing your reading speed. Start reading smarter.

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This means that you can continue reading at the same speed as before. The difference is that you increase your comprehension! This way you don’t have to re-read the text. You save time this way.

Defining IQ

Webster defines IQ as a number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person. It is a score that shows how well you can use and combine information to find answers or make predictions. When you can do this with little resources or very fast, you score higher on the IQ scale.

IQ is a relative score. 100 is the average IQ. People with a higher than 100 IQ are “smarter” in solving problems. For instance, Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates have an IQ of 160. Note that having a high IQ doesn’t mean you only do smart things. There are many very smart people who live an average life. 

Now that we know what IQ and reading speed are, let’s investigate the two in more detail. Research shows that reading speed and IQ are not strongly correlated. You don’t need to be a fast reader to be more intelligent. It also means that when you have a high IQ, you don’t have to be a fast reader. 

This does create an interesting question…

Does Reading Increase IQ?

Reading helps you to raise your IQ. By exposing yourself to more information you learn more. This gives you more information to solve problems. Reading more also increases your vocabulary. Reading is an activity that requires focus. You build stamina to deal with difficult ideas and concepts. You become smarter by reading!

Let me be really honest with you. You don’t need to be a speed reader to study and graduate in time. Reading and studying on a daily basis are very important to have success in studying. If there is one skill you should develop to study smarter, it would be discipline. Make a habit out of studying to achieve academic success. 

Is Speed Reading a Skill?

Reading fast is not a talent you had when you were born. It is a skill that you developed. You can do this by reading a lot. You can also take a course or pick up a book on reading techniques. Apply tactics tested in real life and read faster. 

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Because reading and speed reading are skills, you can develop them. When you feel you are a slow reader now… there is a cure! You can become a fast reader by reading more. You don’t even need to take expensive speed reading training. Simply push yourself to read faster. The result is not only a higher reading speed. It will increase your focus and comprehension.

What Is Reading Speed Depend On?

I learned many years ago that people who talk fast often also read fast. This is because you subvocalize the words you read in your head. Many people tell you to stop subvocalizing. I notice that you can also speed up this vocalizing. This increases your reading speed. 

Of course, there are many other things that determine your reading speed. Some of them are:

  • language in your book (foreign, jargon)
  • state of mind (stress, tired)
  • interest in the topic
  • reading tactics
  • perfectionism

My advice to you is to start reading at a faster pace. Focus on comprehension. Reading speed without comprehension is worthless. Start reading more, and your reading speed will increase (and so will your IQ). 

Talking about reading speed and IQ…

Do Genius Read Fast?

Smart people often read faster than the average person. The main reason is that they read more. I know it sounds too simplistic… but it is! Reading more helps you to read faster. This doesn’t work for a genius only. Everybody who reads more starts reading faster.

To some extent, this works either way around as well. When you read more, you also become smarter! I’m not saying you become a genius by reading more (and faster). You will be able to increase your IQ by reading more. 

How Many Books Do Geniuses Read?

Geniuses read a lot. They read a lot more than “average” IQ people. High IQ is a measure of how well you can combine information to solve problems. When you have a vast amount of information and knowledge, you have a bigger pond to pick from. 

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When you read specific topics, you become better at that topic. Imagine you read all the books on thermodynamics in your local library. You will have a higher chance of understanding this difficult topic than a person who reads only one book. I read that if you read 5 books on one topic, you know more than 95% of all people about that topic. 

Now expand this from reading many books on one topic and do that for dozens of topics. The amount of knowledge will be huge! The number of “smart” connections you can make between them is astronomical. You will see relationships between topics your average Joe doesn’t even think about!

There is one important side note. You not only have to read the books of course. You have to comprehend what you are reading. Learn to use the information. Stay up to date. And most of all, enjoy what you are doing. 

Conclusion

Reading speed is not strongly correlated with intelligence. IQ does have a relation to reading. When you read more, you will become smarter. Reading helps you to increase your natural intelligence and present it more clearly. 

You don’t need to be a speed reader to have academic success. What you have to do is continue to read on a daily basis. Expand your knowledge. Create more connections between topics you study. This helps you to become smarter! 

Stop chasing that dream of becoming a speed reader who reads 1000 words per minute (or more). Focus on comprehension first. Become a smart reader. That is what I teach my clients and students. I help them not to double their reading speed. I help them to remember more in half the time when they read. It all starts by understanding more by reading smart! Let me know if you have any questions on this.

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