We may earn compensation from some providers below.

The 2 Fastest Readers in The World [Are they Legit?]

fastest reader in the world
Updated on 12/20/22

You may think that you read pretty well, but just wait till you hear about the world’s fastest readers.

The average adult reading speed is about 200-300 per minute, but prepare to have your mind blown.

Who is the Fastest Reader in the World?

Howard Stephen Berg from the United States and Maria Teresa Calderon from the Philippines both claim to own Guinness World Record for World’s Fastest Reader. They claim to be able to read anywhere from 25,000 – 80,000 words per minute with up to 100% comprehension.

While there is controversy on who actually holds the actual Speed Reading World Record, there have been speed reading records set and recognized as authentic.

This sounds amazing, but is it even humanly possible?

Let’s look at the world’s fastest readers and how they claim to be able to read with lightning speed.


Maria Teresa Calderon

fast reader

Maria rose to fame in 1968 when the story circulated that she had read a 3,135-word college-level essay in 3.5 seconds.

Not only was that the reading rate of 50,000 words per minute, but it is claimed she also did this with 100% comprehension.

She was tested over and over again at many universities to prove she actually had this magnificent speed reading skill.

She claims to have set the World Record for the fastest reader at 80,000 words per minute with 100% comprehension.

While many claim that she still holds this, there is no proof to be found of an official record.

Maria Calderon went on to make her life mission “the promotion to make reading a life-changing habit.”

To achieve these remarkable feats, Calderon said she mastered a technique called “gestalting.”

Put as simply as possible, this means she pulls from her vast stored knowledge to fill in the gaps as she skims the pages.

Her key to speed reading is mass reading and learning to be better able to predict context by reading key words.

While she had worldwide fame for a while, Maria does not seem to be recognized as the world’s fastest.

Howard Stephen Berg

There are two names mainly associated with the title of the fastest reader in the world, but it seems most agree that the title belongs to Howard Stephen Berg. Berg himself set the Guinness World Record, in 1990, for the World’s Fastest Reader, where he read 25,000 words per minute.

Guinness World Records

Even though his words-per-minute claims are lower than that of Maria Teresa Calderon, he did have a verifiable record at one point.

While the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records does list him as the record holder then, they no longer seem to recognize any speed reading records.

This may be because the exact word amount they read is hard to prove.

Some critics believe speed reading records can be broken by just pre-reading or memorizing the text.

While his records may not be written in stone, Mr. Berg’s abilities to read and learn fast are widely recognized.

His guidance and teachings are also considered to be a significant contribution to the understanding of learning.

So how does he do it?

Berg states that most of us read with just one voice in our head, and instead, we should look at reading like we watch a movie.

He says we should stop this subvocalization of words in our heads and that we must consume information on a page the same way as we do when we are watching a movie.

Exactly how do we completely change how we read and absorb words to mimic watching a movie?

Berg’s Speed Reading Exercise

One of Berg’s speed reading exercises may help start you on the right track as he claims this technique can increase your reading speed by twenty percent in just a few minutes.

He claims the secret to speed reading is the power of using your hand to guide your eyes while reading.

using hand to read

A viewer of one of his YouTube videos once made this comment, “He reads books by gently petting their pages.”

In fact, if you watch him in action, you might certainly think he is absorbing the words through his hands rather than his eyes.

The way you start his exercise is by first reading a page as you usually do and time yourself for a minute.

When you are done, simply mark how far you got with a pencil.

Next, start practicing reading with your hand for at least ten minutes. You do this by moving your hand from left to right to guide your reading.

Read as fast as you can comprehend, and if you feel like you don’t understand what you’re reading, then slow down just a little.

The whole purpose is to get used to using your hand for focus and pace.

Berg claims you can go back to test your speed after this exercise, and you will see a significant increase in speed using your hand.

Modern Day Speed Reading

While lessons learned from these remarkable individuals can increase your reading speed, is it possible to read as fast as Maria Teresa Calderon and Howard Stephen Berg?

As you might have guessed, most of the evidence shows that reading at this insane speed with any comprehension is highly unlikely.

Let’s look at the other fastest modern-day readers as an example.

fast reading

They have multiple speed reading championships around the world, and none of the champions are consistently reading over 2,000 words per minute.

For example, the 2018 European Speed Reading Champion was Alex Holloway. At this competition, they have every competitor read the same book and then test their comprehension rate.

This champion was able to read 1,700 words per minute while having the best comprehension rate.

The reality has to be there is nobody actually reading  25,000 – 80,000 words per minute.

The worlds best may be able to piece together the general information by skimming, but I think we all know they aren’t getting all the words.

The fact is they admit to skimming while still claiming to read every word. It’s pretty simple — if you are skimming, you are missing words.

However, if you can skim that many words and comprehend a reasonable amount of the meaning, it is still a very amazing feat.

While it may not be possible for you to learn to read every word on a page in a single second, we can still learn a lot from studying the world’s fastest readers.

Happy Reading!