Common Sense Review
Updated March 2013

Reading Trainer

Speed first, comprehension second in one-sided brain-training app
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Timed number searches and word searches teach teens to look for relevant information quickly, increasing reading speed.
  • Pairs of unrelated words flash quickly across the screen, and teens have to retype them correctly. This is an exercise to encourage looking at words as images instead of reading them fully.
  • Within each unit, exercises are repeated so teens can track their scores. Even without focusing on the speed-reading training, this could be used as a teaching tool.
  • Clear instructions introduce each activity and explain its relevance to increasing reading speed. The developer says the exercises are founded in brain research.
  • Teens can see their statistics after they complete each unit, allowing them to track their improvement.
Pros
Games can be used for brain training, and progress stats can motivate teens to get even faster.
Cons
It doesn’t address many of the skills students need to focus on beyond speed.
Bottom Line
Beyond the focus on reading speed, these brain exercises can help teens think fast, too.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

This is a straightforward, results-oriented, no-frills app. There's not much to engage kids beyond the goal of self-improvement.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Activities increase or decrease in challenge based on a teen's performance and are repeated to solidify learning. The tasks are all about speed, so there's not much other learning baked in here.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Teens see how practice boosts their performance as they view the statistics showing their improvement after each activity.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

You may find the reading speed tests informative to use with teens or older kids, just to see where they're at. The brief reading excerpt test gives a WPM (words per minute) score; it also tests comprehension with four questions, giving a percentage score. While Reading Trainer does claim to improve reading comprehension, be aware that speed-reading programs generally consider a lower reading comprehension rate to be successful; you be the judge.

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What's It Like?

Reading Trainer is an app designed to increase both reading speed and retention using eye exercises that its developer says will improve mental capacity. It starts by assessing teens' current reading speed in WPM (words per minute) and then takes them through about a dozen units of study with several exercises each to train their brains to read faster by focusing only on important characters or information. Some exercises are simply eye-brain training -- like following a moving circle across the screen with eyes only, or reading numbers flashing across the screen. Others require some speedy feedback from students -- like typing in words or numbers that flash quickly across the screen. The app tracks progress at every step, and teens can take a reading speed test at any time to see how they're progressing. Users are encouraged to complete one unit a day -- about 10 minutes of training -- and then rest their brains to allow them to process the new connections.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Yes, kids can learn to read quickly, but the app ignores skills they're working on beyond speed, like deeper comprehension, vocabulary development, reading for information, literary analysis, and reading for enjoyment. For these, students need close, careful reading more than speed.

Still, the brain exercises in Reading Trainer can help kids think and react clearly and quickly in addition to boosting their reading speed. The speed-reading part of the training teaches students to look at information in chunks, to read images rather than words, and to focus only on relevant information. The stats after each activity allow students to see how practice improves their performance.

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See how teachers are using Reading Trainer