Jade was born with a rare gift: photographic memory. While we see people with photographic memory in TV shows, meeting one with real life is extremely rare. Eidetic memory occurs in a small number of children and generally is not found in adults. In fact, there is no clear test for eidetic memory in adults, so it is considered somewhere between myth and reality.
I was immensely surprised when Anna told me that Jade, the girl who started 1:1 Skype sessions has photographic memory. Anna explained how it works:
Jade reads text with 2000 words per minute speed [e.g. as fast as I do after 10 years of training]. When being asked what she read, Jade cannot answer. She closes her eyes and reread the text. Usually she “loads” the right paragraph in her memory and reads ~200 wpm. Then she accurately answers all questions and may recreate the text exactly as-is. To improve her skillset Jade took 10 lessons – more than is usually required.
The goal of training was removing the painful need to reread everything from memory, and transforming 2000 words per minute into regular reading speed. Since the visual processing needs to be split between reading and markers, Jade’s reading speed initially reduced to 1000 words per minute but her retention went up to 80% without re-reading. On top of the regular training, Anna subjected Jade to intense analysis of the text: asking right questions, accuracy in details, larger and faster working memory, optimization of processing pipeline. With further training the reading speed went back to 2000wpm with 85% retention! This is competitive speedreading performance. The speedreading world championship is held by Anne Jones with 4,700 words per minute with 67% comprehension.
While Jade’s achievement was the best speed x comprehension ratio we registered with any student we had so far [better than my own], she used the perfect mix of inborn capabilities, motivation and hard work. Deep in my heart I hope that one day Jade will surpass the Anne Jone’s record and show the world full potential of speedreasding.
Disclaimer: to protect the privacy of Jade, her name and some details were slightly modified.