Fast ForWord Review: Exploring the Innovative Approach to Dyslexia Intervention 

fast forword review

Fast ForWord is a unique, computer-based reading program for children. It applies principles of neuroscience to target the underlying causes of language and reading difficulties.

The Fast ForWord program is one of many Dyslexia intervention programs available. Developmental Dyslexia accounts for approximately 80% of all learning disabilities, making it the most common type of learning disability. Research shows that the innovative approach behind the adaptive Fast ForWord program can lead to significantly improved reading and language abilities. 

Using my expert knowledge as a Speech-Language Pathologist, I’ve created this comprehensive guide to the Fast ForWord reading program. Follow along as I discuss the components of the program, the science behind it, and my own professional review. 

What is the Fast ForWord Software?

Fast ForWord is an online, interactive reading program. It’s designed to retrain the brain by targeting the root causes of an individual’s reading difficulties.  

Who is it for?

The Fast ForWord scientific learning program is designed to be used with children in elementary school (starting at age 5) up to high school. It can be used to improve reading and language skills in children with: 

  • Dyslexia
  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) 
  • Reading difficulties 
  • Mild to moderate Autism 

How it Works

Fast ForWord claims to not only build better readers but also build better learners. 

Here’s the science behind the online, interactive Fast ForWord learning program. 

The process of reading is complex, and requires several areas of the brain to work together. Developing strong systems in the brain for cognitive skills like attention, working memory, and processing allows us to effectively read. 

Fast ForWord develops these cognitive systems, as well as reading systems (phonics, word identification, and vocabulary). Using principles of neuroscience, Fast Forword initially targets gaps in underlying cognitive skills in 2 phases: 

  1. Builds a learning and cognitive foundation 
  2. Trains reading fluency and comprehension  

The program explicitly cross-trains these systems through interactive, personalized exercises. This can lead to more proficient readers. By supporting strong, smooth neural networks, these areas of the brain become more concentrated, intense, and efficient when activated during reading tasks. 

Students engage in intense, individualized practice using the Fast ForWord software, which is internet-based, by accessing it on an iPad, desktop computer, or laptop. 

The 3-Part Model

The Fast ForWord reading program uses a 3-part model which includes: 

  • Prepare: Foundational language and cognitive skill building by targeting underlying memory or processing challenges a student may have. 
  • Practice: Intensive, personalized, progressively complex practice of reading skills. 
  • Reinforce: Real-time corrective feedback to reinforce newly learned skills and build fluency. The computer listens and provides feedback as students read aloud. 

Skills Targeted

The Fast ForWord program targets the 5 pillars of literacy development:  

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Phonics
  4. Comprehension
  5. Fluency

But Fast ForWord is more than just a reading program. It targets the underlying cognitive skills that are crucial for reading and learning. These are referred to as MAPS skills: 





According to research, cognitive skills such as these are drawn upon when utilizing reading skills such as reading comprehension. 

What is the Recommended Use?

Students should engage in the Fast ForWord program:

  • Three days a week for 30 or 50 minutes
  • Five days a week for 30, 40, 50, or 90 minutes
  • 4 to 16 weeks

The intensity, difficulty, and rewards within each exercise on the Fast ForWord program are automatically adapted to fit the needs of each student. It is designed for one on one instruction, though students may engage in the program on their own devices within a group setting or computer lab. 

According to Carnegie Learning, which owns Scientific Learning Corporation (the creators of Fast ForWord), the reading program produces 1-2 years gains for any struggling learner in as little as 40-60 hours of use.  

Is Fast ForWord Evidence-Based?

The research supporting the effectiveness of Fast ForWord is mixed. 

There have been studies on improving reading through video games and digital apps showed statistically significant results supporting the use of Fast ForWord to improve reading skills.  

Another study on Fast ForWord concluded that there was no evidence from the analysis completed that the program is an effective treatment for reading or oral language difficulties.  

It’s important to consider multiple sources of evidence such as these when deciding whether to use the program for reading intervention. 

Who Can Become a Provider?

Clinics, learning centers, or private practices across the United States and Canada can become a Fast ForWord private provider. According to the creator, Scientific Learning, a provider should be familiar with neuroscientific theory and research applications in order to implement the Fast ForWord computer program. 

Providers should be qualified professions such as: 

  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Reading Specialists
  • Educational Therapists
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Interventionists 
  • Psychologists 

In order to become a provider, you must complete an application to determine qualification and fit. Parents can search online to find a qualified Fast ForWord provider. 

FastForword Program Method: An SLP’s Review

As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) with experience in Dyslexia intervention, I’ve had the first hand opportunity to assess the Fast ForWord program. Here I’ll provide a detailed analysis of the methodology, teaching strategies, results, strengths, challenges, and expert tips to keep in mind when considering using the Fast ForWord program for dyslexia intervention. 

Methodology & Process 

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I see the value of the Fast ForWord program being backed by principles of neuroscience. I believe that many reading programs do not focus on core cognitive skills such as memory and processing, which can help develop a strong reader. 

Although research on the program’s effectiveness at improving reading skills is mixed, I believe this to be the case with many reading programs. In my practice, I consider the individual needs of a student when determining whether to incorporate the Fast ForWord program in intervention.  

Teaching Strategies

Individualization: Fast ForWord is highly individualized to address the specific needs of each student. I’ve found that the program does adapt automatically and provide real-time feedback to the user, which is helpful in providing individualized treatment. 

Effectiveness: The program’s effectiveness varies, depending on factors like the individual and  the time they spend practicing. Overall, there seems to be a range in some showing significant improvement and others demonstrating more modest gains through the program. 

Usability: The user interface of the program is intuitive, and easy for both instructors and students. 


Some students who use the Fast ForWord reading program have positive long-term improvements in reading and language skills. Dyslexic individuals may require ongoing support over time for reading and language skills.   


The cost of the program depends on factors such as location, type of subscription or license (individual or institutional) and any additional services or features that may be included. 

To obtain the most accurate, up to date cost, those interested should contact the official website or a Fast ForWord provider directly. 

According to online sources such as private providers, learning centers, and parent forums, the monthly fee parents are responsible for ranges from $150-$500 per month. 

Parents and professionals should contact Scientific Learning directly for an updated quote to fit their specific needs. 

The cost can be a barrier for some. Parents can consider potential long-term benefits that the program may have on the student’s reading and language skills. 


Instructors should provide ongoing support to students and communicate regularly with parents and caregivers about the child’s progress and goals being targeted in the Fast ForWord program. 

Carnegie Learning provides implementation support, content and pedagogical support. This can help providers in school districts, private practices, and families on their journey to improve the child’s literacy skills. 

User Reviews

In my research and analysis of user reviews on the Fast ForWord program, there are a range of opinions. Positive reviews cite the significant progress in reading skills that their child made, and the benefits of the program’s focus on cognitive skills for children who struggle with skills such as auditory processing. 

Others report they did not observe their child making gains through the program and that it was not cost-effective. Overall, users appear to be satisfied with the results of the Fast ForWord program for struggling readers. 

Strengths of the Fast ForWord Program

In my opinion, the Fast ForWord program has several strengths. First, the program is based on principles of neuroscience. Several underlying cognitive skills are involved in the process of reading. Fast ForWord is unique in its focus on these skills as part of the program. 

Another strength of Fast ForWord is how it adapts for each child. The intensity, difficulty, and rewards within each exercise are automatically adapted to fit the needs of each student, which provides an individualized treatment approach. 

And finally, the real-time corrective feedback provided in Fast ForWord helps reinforce newly learned skills and build fluency. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I believe the computer listening and providing feedback as students read aloud can help improve the child’s self-monitoring and attention during these tasks.  

Areas for Improvement

The cost of the program may limit some parents of students with Dyslexia from being able to access it. Another area of concern is the controversy surrounding the effectiveness of the Fast ForWord program. Due to mixed results of previous studies, updated research on the results of the program would be beneficial.  

Bottom Line

Fast ForWord has been widely used over the 20+ years since it was developed, and I believe that the reading program can offer benefits to struggling readers though there are important limitations to consider. 

The program offers motivating activities on a digital platform, and adapts to fit each child’s unique needs. However, there is conflicting evidence on the program’s effectiveness and a potentially high cost are factors that should be kept in mind when considering the program. 

✅ Utilizes neuroscience principles to enhance cognitive skills essential for reading.❌ Mixed evidence on effectiveness with some studies showing minimal impact.
✅ Features adaptive learning technology that personalizes exercises to the user’s performance level.❌ Can be cost-prohibitive, with fees ranging from $150 to $500 per month.
✅ Improves broader cognitive abilities that support overall academic performance.
✅ Offers real-time feedback during exercises, aiding immediate learning reinforcement.

Our Methodology: How We Reviewed the Fast ForWord Program

In our comprehensive review of the Fast ForWord, I utilized a multi-faceted approach to ensure a thorough evaluation.  By incorporating various perspectives and a detailed breakdown of key components, our review aims to provide a comprehensive, unbiased evaluation of the Fast ForWord program. 

This review was not sponsored, and I do not have any financial affiliations with the Fast ForWord program. The information I presented reflects my honest opinion on the program based on my professional experience with it. 

Below outlines the methodology I followed to assess the effectiveness and value of the Fast ForWord program: 

  • Evaluation Criteria: Our review was guided by clearly defined criteria, focusing on the educational effectiveness of the program, its usability for learners and educators, accessibility for users with diverse needs, and the quality of support resources provided. I selected information that reflects the impact of the Fast ForWord program on individuals and how the Fast ForWord program can improve those skills. The information reflects my professional experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I considered case studies and research from professional organizations and reputable journals. 
  • User Feedback: A pivotal part of our review involved gathering feedback directly from those who have used the Fast ForWord program. Through research on websites for therapy centers, tutoring organizations, and teachers, I collected insights on user experiences, the usability of the program, and the support provided, enabling us to gauge real-world impacts.
  • Expert Analysis: To ensure a balanced and informed review, I researched the opinions of educational experts and specialists in dyslexia. Their analysis of the program’s curriculum and teaching methodologies against current academic and pedagogical standards was invaluable in assessing its theoretical underpinnings.

Forbrain and Fast ForWord as Complementary Dyslexia Tools 

One tool that can complement the Fast ForWord computer program is Forbrain. Forbrain is a speech and language enhancement device designed to improve auditory processing, attention, and communication skills through bone conduction technology. Forbrain uses specialized headphones to transmit sound vibrations, amplifying sounds. 

Complementing the Fast ForWord curriculum with the use of Forbrain, an auditory stimulation device, may enhance the overall effectiveness of intervention for individuals with Dyslexia. 

The Fast ForWord approach addresses the core cognitive skills required for reading and oral language development. Forbrain is a digital learning tool that allows the user to hear themselves slightly louder. This amplified effect can make it easier for the brain to process and remember what the user says out loud, such as when engaged in the Fast ForWord computer-based reading activities. 

Forbrain and Fast ForWord can therefore be used simultaneously in the intervention of Dyslexia, as complementary tools designed to optimize a student’s progress. 

The Use of Fast ForWord with and without Forbrain

Feature/AspectForbrainFast ForWordFast ForWord with Forbrain
FunctionalityHeadset that helps with the 3 main challenges of dyslexia: verbal memory, phonological awareness, and verbal processing speed. The combination of the dynamic filter and bone conduction amplifies the speaker’s voice and stimulates the auditory nerve, for better brain processing.Focuses on building cognitive and reading skills through adaptive online exercisesThe integration boosts cognitive skill development while enhancing auditory feedback, leading to more effective reading skill acquisition
UsabilityMeant to be implemented into daily routines, for 10-20 minutes a day. Individuals simply need to wear the headset when reading or speaking.Via internet access on computers or tablets. Usually lasts 4-6 months, on a 30 minutes a day basisCombining both can be easily managed within FFW sessions, adding auditory stimulation without complicating the user experience
Target AudienceSuitable for 3+ and older individuals with learning challenges such as dyslexiaSuitable for children in elementary through high school with Dyslexia, ADHD, APD, and other learning difficultiesThis combo is precious for Fast ForWord users needing enhanced auditory support, improving outcomes for students with auditory processing challenges
BenefitsForbrain helps to improve:
– speech
– communication
– attention
– focus
– memory
– learning
Improves reading through targeted training in phonics, comprehension, and other literacy skillsForbrain’s auditory boost may enhance FFW’s cognitive benefits, speeding up comprehension and fluency gains
LimitationsNot appropriate for individuals with :
– cochlear implant
– severe hearing loss
– epilepsy
Mixed evidence on effectiveness, and the cost can be prohibitive for some. Requires consistent, disciplined use to see benefits
Cost$299 for the Forbrain headset and accessories, with a 2-year warranty.Variable, generally involves subscription fees ranging from $150-$500 per month depending on the provider and program specificsHigher initial investment but can result in more robust and faster gains in reading and cognitive skills, possibly reducing long-term costs of other interventions
Support & ResourcesForbrain comes with:
– A secondary microphone that allows support from parents, therapists, or instructors.
– A headphone jack for listening to recordings or participating in online therapy programs.
Extensive support from Carnegie Learning including pedagogical content and implementation guidance
Clinical Evidence/ResearchForbrain uses neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire and change. Several scientific studies have shown the effects of using Forbrain or auditory feedback to improve the skills of those with reading or other deficits.Mixed results in studies: some reveal significant reading improvements, while others show no notable benefits

Final Words

The Fast ForWord reading program has been widely used across schools and private providers for over 20 years. Its neuroscientific underpinnings consider the complexity of reading. It aims to develop strong systems in the brain for cognitive skills like attention, working memory, and processing that allows us to effectively read. 

Pros of the Fast ForWord program are its design for building underlying cognitive skills that are important for reading, the motivation it brings for students by engaging in fun digital learning activities, and its adaptability for individual users. 

Potential downfalls of the program include potential costs and mixed evidence supporting the program’s effectiveness.  

To potentially complement the effectiveness of the Fast ForWord reading program, individuals can incorporate the use of Forbrain, an auditory stimulation headset. Improving reading skills can open the doors to a student’s future. 


Kim, Y.-S. G. (2020). Hierarchical and dynamic relations of language and cognitive skills to reading comprehension: Testing the direct and indirect effects model of reading (DIER). Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(4), 667–684.

Ostiz-Blanco, M., Bernacer, J., Garcia-Arbizu, I., Diaz-Sanchez, P., Rello, L., Lallier, M., Arrondo, G. (2021). Improving reading through videogames and digital apps: a systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 652948. DOI:

Strong, G. K., Torgerson, C. J., Torgerson, D., & Hulme, C. (2011). A systematic meta-analytic review of evidence for the effectiveness of the ‘Fast ForWord’ language intervention program. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 52(3), 224–235.

Yang L, Li C, Li X, Zhai M, An Q, Zhang Y, Zhao J, Weng X. (2022). Prevalence of Developmental Dyslexia in Primary School Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Brain Sciences, 12(2):240. DOI:

Amy Yacoub

Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist. She has over 12 years of experience working with children who have a variety of diagnoses and disorders, including speech and language delays, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and Autism. She is also an experienced consultant within the field.

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