This is my review of PhotoReading, which is a system that promises to help you learn to read at a much faster rate. I first encountered PhotoReading in the summer of 2006, and I've updated this page in July 2008, so this review is based on roughly two years of PhotoReading experience.
I evaluate a LOT of personal development products, partly because publishers send me review copies of their offerings. Most of those products you'll never hear me mention because for one reason or another, I didn't find them to be good enough to recommend. PhotoReading is one of the few I can genuinely recommend, mainly because it will teach you a valuable new skill that you can use for the rest of your life.
My first impression of the PhotoReading system was very positive because the packaging was all pro: full color binder, professionally recorded CDs and DVDs, and an easy-to-follow manual. It sure looks great as you take it out of the box. As I went through the program, my impression only got better. Paul Scheele's voice is pleasant-sounding, positive, and encouraging. From the first CD, I realized this was going to be something unusually good.
Before studying PhotoReading, I'd already learned traditional (Evelyn Wood style) speed-reading. PhotoReading is a lot more than that. I wouldn't exactly call it a speed-reading course. It's probably more accurate to call it an information extraction course.
The rapid photographic reading is the most attention-getting part of the system, but PhotoReading is really an integrated system of flexible reading strategies. If you think of speed-reading as a hammer, PhotoReading is the whole toolbox. With PhotoReading you learn to efficiently extract the key ideas from whatever you decide to read.
Before I went through the PhotoReading system, I considered myself an avid reader. I've read at least 1,000 personal development books, averaging about a book a week. That's pretty good, isn't it? But even with speed-reading, I still read in a very linear manner -- page by page and word by word. I thought that was the best way to read, aside from trying to read even faster. However, when I learned PhotoReading, I realized that linear word-by-word reading just isn't very efficient... and that there's a better way to get information out of books and into my brain.
PhotoReading takes advantage of the fact that all books are not equally valuable to you. There's tremendous variation in the information value of different books. Some books are a complete waste of your time. Other books will only contain one or two useful ideas that you'll remember -- the rest you'll quickly forget. A few books will have you hanging on every word. But regardless of each book's value to you, you still have to invest a lot of time to read each one. The Catch-22 is that you have to read each book to determine whether it was worth reading in the first place.
PhotoReading solves this dilemma by training you to use a nonlinear, multipass method of reading. You don't just blindly dive in and read books word by word. Instead you'll make multiple passes through each book, going deeper each time until you reach the point of diminishing returns. Sometimes you'll finish a book in 15 minutes (if that's all it takes to extract the ideas that are important to you), while other times you'll spend 2 hours with a book that's loaded with great ideas.
With PhotoReading your first pass through a typical book takes about 5 minutes. In some cases you'll stop there because you've extracted all the key ideas you wanted, and it wouldn't be worthwhile to invest any more time in the book. In other situations you'll continue making additional passes until you've squeezed as much juice out of the book as you're going to get -- that might take you as long as 2 hours total. With PhotoReading the amount of time you spend on each book is proportional to its value to you. The system will give you the tools to do this. I was quite impressed with how synergistically the various techniques work together -- it's very engaging and actually makes reading more enjoyable.
I appreciate that PhotoReading taught me a new way of thinking about reading. I used to think reading meant processing every word in order. Now I understand that reading is really about value extraction. In most cases it's very inefficient to read a book linearly from start to finish if your goal is to extract the core ideas you can apply. PhotoReading's progressive reading methods are much more efficient. Not only does PhotoReading save you time, but it also increases your comprehension and memory because your focus is on value extraction, not word scanning.
Keep in mind that after you learn PhotoReading, you can still read books linearly if you choose to. If you want to read a fictional story like Harry Potter, I'd recommend that you slow-read it to immerse yourself in the story and enjoy the surprises and plot twists as J.K. Rowling intended. But PhotoReading is great for nonfiction books where the goal is simply to extract the ideas that are important to you. In that case, the sooner you can extract and apply those ideas, the better.
Here are some of the key benefits of PhotoReading -- I've personally experienced all of these:
Since I first recommended PhotoReading in 2006, the feedback I received from readers who've completed the course has been very positive overall, especially from students and people who do a lot of research. PhotoReading enables them to consult many more outside sources in additional to getting through their usual materials more quickly. One suggestion for students is to PhotoRead all of your textbooks during your first week of classes -- I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much more you learn and retain.
The Classic PhotoReading Course is $245, and the Deluxe PhotoReading Course is $530.
Most StevePavlina.com visitors who purchased PhotoReading bought the Deluxe course. I also recommend the Deluxe course because it includes extra DVDs featuring live PhotoReading seminars. The instruction of the Classic course is excellent by itself. What the DVDs do is help you get into the mindset of really wanting to practice and apply PhotoReading and knowing that it works. When you see a class full of students actually doing it, I think you'll be motivated to grab a book and start PhotoReading as well.
When you're asked for a customer code, enter E1106V-5. This code will give you bonus instructional emails to guide you through the course basics. You can use this code when you order by phone toll-free at 1-866-292-1861, by fax, by email, or online at the Learning Strategies web site.
Just so there's no risk to you, you also get a 30-day money-back guarantee. Try the PhotoReading system for 30 days (extendable to 6 months by request), and if you aren't happy with it, just return it for a full product refund.
Before recommending PhotoReading, I also did my homework on the company behind it. Learning Strategies Corporation has been in business for 25 years and is a leader in accelerated learning (hence their company name). I've met their President, Pete Bissonette, in person more than once and learned a lot about their business and how they treat their customers. I feel very confident recommending this company and the PhotoReading system. I evaluate a LOT of personal development products, and PhotoReading is one of the few I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Here's some additional free info from Learning Strategies that will explain more about PhotoReading:
Have fun with this. I think you'll really enjoy PhotoReading lots of books once you get into it. The PhotoReading course makes a great additional to your personal development library because it enables you to read through that library a lot more quickly. :)
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