Friday, 19 Apr 2024

What Is The Average Reading Speed

Reading is a fundamental skill that allows us to access and comprehend information. The speed at which we read plays a crucial role in our ability to efficiently process large amounts of text. While speeds vary among individuals, there is a general average speed that most people fall within. In this article, we will explore the concept of average reading speed, factors that influence speed, and techniques to improve speed and comprehension.

Understanding Reading Speed

The speed refers to the rate at which an individual can read and comprehend written material. It is typically measured in words per minute (WPM). The speed depends on various factors, including the complexity of the text, an individual’s reading ability, familiarity with the subject matter, and reading goals.

Average Reading Speed

The speed can vary significantly depending on the reader’s proficiency, purpose, and reading material. However, studies have shown that the average adult speed ranges from 200 to 300 words per minute. This range generally applies to silent reading, where individuals read without vocalizing the phrase.

Factors Influencing Reading Speed:

Vocabulary and Language Proficiency: 

A more extensive vocabulary and better command of language can enhance speed by reducing the time spent decoding words and understanding their meanings.

Comprehension Skills: 

Good comprehension skills allow readers to understand and process information more efficiently, increasing speed.

Familiarity with the Subject Matter

When reading on a topic one is familiar with, the speed tends to be faster due to prior knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Text Complexity

Complex texts, such as academic or technical materials, can slow speed as readers need to spend more time understanding and assimilating the information.

Reading Purpose

Different reading purposes, such as leisure reading or studying for exams, can influence speed. When reading for pleasure, individuals may read at a slower pace to savor the content, while studying or researching may require faster reading to cover more material in a limited time.

Improving Reading Speed:


Like any skill, regular exercise can improve speed. Engage in consistent reading sessions to build momentum and fluency.

Avoid Subvocalization

Subvocalization is the habit of pronouncing words internally while reading. Minimizing this habit can significantly increase speed.

Expand Vocabulary

Building a strong vocabulary will help reduce the time spent deciphering unfamiliar words, thus improving overall\ speed.

Use a Pointer

Using a pointer, such as a pen or a finger, to guide your eyes along the lines can help increase speed by reducing unnecessary eye movements.

Eliminate Distractions

Reading in a quiet environment free from distractions can improve focus and concentration, increasing speed.

Speed Reading Techniques: Various speed reading techniques, such as skimming, scanning, and chunking, can help individuals read faster while maintaining comprehension. These techniques involve selectively focusing on crucial information and utilizing peripheral vision. Read Also:-What is the speed of sound in fps



While the average speed falls within the range of 200 to 300 words per minute, it is essential to remember that speed can vary among individuals and is influenced by various factors. Individuals can enhance their speed and comprehension by understanding these factors and employing effective reading strategies. Regular practice, building vocabulary, and implementing speed reading techniques can all contribute to becoming more efficient readers, ultimately enabling us to absorb information quickly and effectively.


Determining your average speed is a straightforward process that can be completed in just a few minutes. To calculate your speed, follow these simple steps:

  1. Obtain a book in a language you are familiar with.
  2. Find a quiet place where you can read without distractions.
  3. Set a stopwatch or timer for 10 minutes.
  4. Start reading the book and continue for the full 10 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, stop reading and take note of the total number of pages you have read.
  6. Count the total number of words on those pages.
  7. Divide the total number of words by 10 (the number of minutes you read) to calculate your speed in words per minute (WPM).
  8. If you wish to determine your speed in words per hour, divide the WPM value by 60.

The formula for calculating average reading speed is as follows:

Average Reading Speed = Total number of words / Time in minutes (WPM)

Let’s illustrate this formula with an example:


Suppose a student reads 500 words in just 3 minutes. What would be their average reading speed?

Using the formula:

Average Reading Speed = 500 / 3 = 166.66 words per minute

Understanding the Importance of Reading:

Reading is a complex process encompassing word recognition, comprehension, fluency, and motivation. It serves as a vital exercise for the brain and forms the foundation for learning various subjects, including language arts and mathematics. Moreover, reading is an essential life skill, as it is necessary for tasks like interpreting street signs or understanding prescriptions.

The act of reading involves:

  • Recognizing words in written form (word recognition).
  • Constructing meaning from those words (comprehension).
  • Achieving a state of automatic and accurate reading (fluency).

At times, we can extract meaning from written text without being able to identify every word. Consider an instance when you received a note with illegible handwriting. Despite the scribbles, you could still comprehend the message to some extent.

Frequently Asked Questions on Average Reading Speed

Reading speed is crucial to efficient reading, but what constitutes good speed? Let’s explore different speeds and their definitions for comprehension and learning.

Average Reading Speeds: 

A reading speed of less than 100-200 words per minute is considered normal for learning purposes. This pace allows individuals to absorb information effectively and engage with the content.

Regarding comprehension, the average speed ranges from 200 to 400 words per minute. At this rate, readers can understand and retain the information they are processing. Going beyond 500 words per minute may compromise comprehension and the overall quality of reading.

Reading Speed and Page Count: 

The speed at which you read can also be measured by the number of pages read per hour. While slow readers may cover around 30 pages in an hour, the average person can read approximately 40 pages within the same timeframe. On the other hand, quick readers can even go through 50 or 60 pages in an hour.

Factors Affecting Speed: 

Various factors can contribute to being a slow reader. Losing focus or lacking interest in the material can significantly impact speed. Complex texts containing unfamiliar or technical vocabulary can also slow the reading process. Excessive regression, meaning frequently returning to re-read sections, has also been identified as a cause of slow reading.

College Students and Average Reading Speed: 

On average, college students read at a rate of around 350 words per minute. However, a “good” speed typically falls between 500 and 700 words per minute. Remarkably, some individuals can read up to a thousand words per minute.