Are Slow Readers Less Intelligent?

When it comes to reading speed, there are a lot of myths that are out there.

For example, some people believe speed reading is the best way to go about reading while others believe reading slow is a more effective way of consuming information.

All in all, it comes down to preference and what works for you. Therefore it would be unwise to read a certain way just because “it is the only way to read”.

Being a good reader is all about developing your own process and having it work for you to achieve the desired outcome.

This post will discuss a common question that I’ve gotten from readers.

The question is “are slow readers less intelligent?”

So let’s address that….

Slow reading doesn’t mean less intelligence. Some people are naturally born slow readers but this doesn’t have any effect on their intelligence. Other people choose to read slow because they find it effective.

Therefore reading speed doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact on a person’s intelligence.

It’s a matter of preference. Unless a person has a medical condition that shadow’s their intelligence and inherently makes them slow readers.

Intelligence in reading

Let’s look at what intelligence actually means with regard to reading books.

Ability to understand

First things first, intelligence in reading is basically the ability to easily grasp what one reads.

People are different and the way they consume information is just as different.

Therefore we can judge intelligence as the ability to understand what one reads.

People that read slow can just as easily understand what they read as fast people. Which means we cannot say a person isn’t intelligent just because they read slow.

Most well read people actually say that people that read slow stand a better chance of understanding a book as compared to people that read fast.

Ability to recall

Another thing we can use as a measure of intelligence in reading is the ability to recall what one reads. From the above point we can easily figure out that ones ability to recall greatly depends on their ability to understand what they read.

With that said, we can easily establish that intelligence is a function of understanding or comprehension.

For both slow and fast readers, the ability to call upon memory may be difficult or easy depending on their understanding of the material read as well as the strength of their memory.

Which is why we have to understand the implication of intelligence in reading.

Ability to apply what is read

Another thing that determines the intelligence of an individual reader is their ability to use what they read in their own lives.

Both slow and fast readers can do this.

Just as you might have guessed, the ability to apply what one reads depends on how well they understand what they read and their ability to make it usable in their own lives.

Closing in on intelligence

As we’ve discussed above, intelligence is a function of understanding and we can settle at that for the purpose of this post. We can the conclude that the ability to understand is what determines the intelligence of an individual, NOT the pace at which they read.

The benefits of reading slow

Let’s look at some benefits of taking your time when reading.

More comprehension

Reading isn’t easy and the fact is, it makes your brain work hard because of all the information being thrown at it.

Which is why some people refer to reading as mental exercise. This is certainly true and it is for this fact that reading slow may prove useful.

Taking your time to read can increase your ability to comprehend and understand text much easier.

Controlled pace

When we read books, speed is everything and the quicker we try to read the harder it is for us to keep our concentration for long.

Reading slow can help you control your pace and discover your strengths as you read.

Pace is everything when you read because it determines the outcome of your reading.

For example, a controlled pace of reading can help you focus better as well as read for longer.

Rather than reading without an established pace and trying to make your brain do what hasn’t been nurtured.

Easy focus

Reading fast is great because you can obviously get through a bunch of stuff faster.

But one problem with reading fast is that it makes it hard for you to concentrate.

Reading slow in this situation can help you read better with better attention and better focus.

If you’re a person that doesn’t necessarily read fast. You might want to try reading slowly.

You’ll most likely understand what you read easily. it will also be easier for you to zero in on important things necessary for your overall comprehension.

Easy to digest complex material

Hard books exist and most people read them. If you’re one person that finds it hard comprehending complex books then you might want to adjust and adopt a change in pace.

Hard material needs the necessary attention as well focus to properly decode all relevant pieces of information that have to be understood by the reader.

Slow reading can be very useful in such endeavours because it  allows you to process information more deeply and diligently.

Two qualities that are important in reading complex text.

Therefore consider Reading a tough book more slower and see how well it helps you grasp information as well as retain your knowledge.

Best ways to read slow

Now that we’ve discussed the various benefits of slow reading, let’s get into some of the best ways reading slow can be carried out.

Take notes

Reading slow and taking notes is a good combination. It can help you tackle information and express it through writing.

This is important for comprehension and a good way to come back to specific points when you need to.

Grasp chapters and then move on

A great way of reading slow is taking enough time on each chapter you read….in order to fully grasp what is being said before moving on to the next chapter.

When reading slow is used best

Below are some ways you can apply slow reading to get the best results.


Studying works best when you take your time and understand what you’re studying.

This is one use of slow reading.

Rather than moving through study material quickly, take your time and read slow.

You’ll retain the information better.

Reading complex material

When it comes to reading tough material, your ability to slow read will literally save you.

Hard books demand more attention than the average book which is why reading slow to understand every word is the best way to go about things.


Research involves a number of steps. You have to first find material then go over it to vet it, then decide whether it’s of use or not.

Vetting research material is best done by reading it slow to avoid missing anything that may be of use.

Advantages of reading fast

Now that we’ve discussed a number of things surrounding slow reading let’s get into fast reading. Specifically its benefits.

Faster to get through material

One benefit of reading fast is that it will help you get through a lot of material quickly.

This is useful for those that are able to process information at a quick rate without their focus being lost.

Good for scheme reading

The second advantage and use of fast reading is scheme reading.

When you wish to go through information quickly in order to understand what it’s about, fast reading can be a great way to touch on many things so you can make calculated guesses as to what the material you’re reading is about.

Helps you read more books

For those people that believe in reading a lot of books. Fast reading can serve an important function in helping them achieve this.

Downside to reading fast

As with anything, fast reading has its downsides let’s get into each of these

Poor comprehension

One thing associated with fast reading is Poor comprehension of information.

While some people may find it easy to go through a book fast and retain a decent amount of information for others, reading fast essentially means zero comprehension.

Which is one downside to reading fast.

Poor retention

The second downside to reading fast is essentially Poor retention on your part.

It may be hard to recall everything you read especially with tricky books that have complex ideas that require a decent pace of reading to understand.

Missing important details

When you read fast, the chances are very high that you’ll miss important details that are key to understanding the book you’re reading.

Can’t be used to read complex material

Fast reading may be great for going through material quickly but it’s of no use when it comes to decoding complex books.

Illusion of understanding

Fast reading may help you get through books quickly and this can easily delude you into thinking you’ve understood the book.

Which is bad because you may not be able to remember most of what you read.

Related Articles You Should Read

Are Book Worms Introverts?

Can You Be Smart And Not Well Read?

Helpful Resources

Are speed readers bigger bookworms? – Pan Macmillan

Is There Anything Wrong With Being a Slow Reader? – MEL Magazine

7 Struggles Every Slow Reader Knows To Be True – Bustle

Why Some Intelligent People Struggle with Reading – RTS Success