How To Watch Lectures At Double Speed (Useful Med School Hacks)

The best way to watch lectures at double speed is to use it as a review (so as not to skip important information) and slow the speed down whenever you hit hard or complicated concepts.

This article takes a deeper look at the subject. Here you’ll learn:

  • Why you may want to watch lectures at double speed
  • Useful tips to keep in mind when watching lectures back at increased speed
  • The best tools to use to speed up lectures

Let’s get started.

Why Watch Lectures At Double Speed?

We all know students (especially med students) are stressed and busy. Attending lectures only adds to that. One way of overcoming the problem besides skipping lectures and missing out on the information? Watching lectures at double (or increased) speeds.

Here are the possible pros:

  • Time: watching lectures played back at faster speeds will save you time. The faster the speed, the more time you’ll save. But that does potentially come at a cost.
  • Improved focus: listening or watching at faster speeds can urge you to pay more attention to the subject at hand. It’s hard to be passive.
  • Backed by science: consensus says watching videos at double speed is normal and a trainable skill. But there is a limit to how fast (it caps out around 4X speed).

And of course there are a few cons:

  • Learning style: not everyone can handle listening to information at more than its natural speed of delivery. Visual learners, or those who prefer other modes of studying, probably won’t see that much direct benefit.
  • Comprehension: there is some debate on the scientific consensus outlined above. A University Carolina-Wilmington study argues there’s a drop-off in comprehension of about 50% at 2x speed. The sweet spot tends to be under 1.5x (at which point the pros above become marginal). 

Evaluating both, the technique could be worth experimenting with.

And if you’re interested in the debate as to whether watching videos at 2x speed leads to poorer retention, this video is a good watch.

What To Do When Watching Lectures At Fast Speed

A few helpful tips to help you get starting watching your lectures at double speed or less, include the following:

  • Review the lecture slides first: looking at the information more carefully during your first pass can help improve your understanding and ensure you don’t miss anything when playing the lectures back. It might be a good idea to make flashcard decks of critical information too. If you feel it’s likely to show up on tests.
  • Pause when necessary: don’t feel that just because you’re watching lectures back at a faster speed you can’t pause them. Stopping the lecture to pay closer attention to the key points (or things you’re unsure of) can help a lot.
  • Use for the second pass (never the first): it’s important you pay attention to learn the core concepts first. You’ll need to do this by going slowly. Only speed up for review.

How To Watch Lectures Faster

There are several apps and programs you can use to watch your lectures back faster. First you’ll need to check that you can download them though. But even if you can’t there are a few ways to play videos back from learning platforms etc.

Video Speed Controller

Video Speed Controller is a Chrome plugin you can add to the browser to speed up or slow down videos you’re streaming live from the web. Just head to the download page and then activate the plugin to get started.

VLC Player

I’ve been using VLC for a long time to alter the playback speed of the various videos I download from the web. It’s one of the best video software applications out there. And it’s free.

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player comes as default with all Windows computers. You can change the playback setting of the videos you watch easily enough. Right click the mouse and then go to enhancements > playback speed

How to Speed Up Lectures On Blackboard

Blackboard Collaborate (the platform used by my med school) isn’t the most intuitive when it comes to altering the playback speed of the things you watch. Thankfully there is a handy Chrome plugin you can use to get round that. Check it out here

Watching Lectures at 2X Speed: Reddit’s Tips

This Reddit thread has some good tips on best practices when watching lectures or learning materials back at faster than normal speeds. Here are the best points:

  • Go fast for revision only: just to ensure you go over all the details at least twice and don’t waste time on the less high yield concepts.
  • Gradually increase over time: don’t just jump in at 2x speed starting out. Work up to it. Maybe by going 1.25x and getting used to that first.
  • Invest in good headphones or speakers: high-quality gear ensures the sped-up sound doesn’t lose any integrity.

Personally I like a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. They’ll block out any distractions in a cafe or library (my two favorite places of study). 


I’m a big fan of watching sped up lectures to get through med school. It’s actually one technique I mention often, especially when it comes to how to memorize pathology and the like.

Maybe it’s right for you.

Image Credit – @andytyler at Unsplash