Quick facts about reading
- The national average in North America, Europe and Australia is 240 wpm (words per minute).
- To keep up with reading assignments in college, students need a reading rate of at least 400 wpm.
- The average business professional needs to spend about 2 hours a day reading, just to keep up.
- Top speed for linear reading (reading every word on a page without skimming) is 1,200 wpm.
- Most people can easily go beyond 600 wpm once a few reading mistakes have been corrected. Video in STEP 3 explains how.
Your wpm result and what it means
Below 120 wpm: Far below average. You may experience difficulty with basic word recognition. Most likely you need vocabulary training. If English is your second language, your reading rate will go up if you expand your vocabulary and do more language training. It may also be a good idea to consult a reading specialist through a local school or reading clinic since there is a chance you have a problem that is more deeply rooted.
120–180 wpm: Below average unless you are under 16 years of age. Your biggest problem may be that you’re not reading enough. Try to put in an extra 30 minutes of reading per day to build a reading habit.
180–240 wpm: Average. You are reading ineffectively, but have many possibilities for improvement. Reading more on a daily basis will most definitely be worthwhile. The fastest progress, however, will come from going past your “speech rate,” which for most people is right in the 180–240 wpm range.
240–400 wpm: University student. This is a normal level for people who read for a few hours a day and have gotten into the habit of learning and studying. Still, there are several slow-reading habits that are holding you back (these are explored in the video on the next page).
400–600 wpm: Above average. You have reached a level where you’re starting to overcome some of your worst slow-reading habits. You’re taking in larger groups of words and your reading is reasonably effective.
Over 600 wpm: Excellent. On this level slow-reading habits have ceased being a problem. You read more or less visually and are taking in larger groups of words. You’re also likely to have good concentration and comprehension, which is a trademark of readers at this level.