How Fast Do You Read? I Share My Reading Speed

reading speed, speed reading test

A few days ago, I was looking for a resource to determine how fast professionals should read. Going in, I knew that the average college student was said to read at 300 words per minute, but I was told that the average adult reading speed was lower.

During my search, I came across a 2012 article by Brett Nelson on Forbes. I read the article and I was amazed. Look at this snippet:

According to a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples as part of an e-book promotion (brilliant marketing, by the way), here are the typical speeds at which humans read, and in theory comprehend, at various stages of educational development:

  • Third-grade students = 150 words per minute (wpm)
  • Eight grade students = 250
  • Average college student = 450
  • Average “high level exec” = 575
  • Average college professor = 675
  • Speed readers = 1,500
  • World speed reading champion = 4,700
  • Average adult: 300 wpm

To put those rates in meaningful context, I applied them to the kind of serious reading regimen favored by the super-successful set.

Wow. So, it looks like the averages went up all around. But, are eighth- and third-grade students that fast?

How Fast Do I Read?

A few years ago, I took a reading speed test of sorts as part of a course. It was difficult, and I know that I just didn’t make the cut (for college students or the adult average). I forgot the number, but I didn’t even crack 200 wpm at the time.

So, I went to the Staples website to do their reading test. And guess what? I was estimated to be able to read 219 words per minute! (I even got all the questions right!) I’m not at 300 wpm, but I made a vast improvement.

Is this number right?

Well, I certainly hope so. In some ways, I can see improvements in my reading speed and it’s all because of the choices I made and assignments I’ve had.

For one thing, I have done a lot more general reading and writing this year than I have in years past. From my freelance work, I had to do more research than I’ve ever done before. My featured posts have certainly helped me in this regard.

Also, I am learning more and more about SEO. There is so much to learn about search engine optimization to make anyone’s head spin. So, there is a lot to read about on that subject.

This has been the most productive year I’ve had in terms of blogging. I was able to push myself to write longer posts and to format them in a better way.

Now, I know I need to read even more. This will help me to become a better writer, to get facts straight, and to really make a living from writing. And from what I read from Brett Nelson’s article, a faster reading speed will help me save time and use my free time more productively.

What’s Your Reading Speed?

You don’t necessarily have to tell me your results if you don’t want to. But why don’t you give this test a try?

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

11 thoughts on “How Fast Do You Read? I Share My Reading Speed

  1. took a while for me to find the test as I was so busy comparing prices and types of ereaders…lol….okay bucko, you asked. please just remember that. (smiles gently) My score was 1213…..yea, I know, I posts do not sound as if I have an education much less manage to read anything with comprehension..but there it is. 1213. I did it twice to make sure…….and got 1227 the second time. In all fairness it was the same test each time so I can assume I didn’t read any faster I just remembered more the second time. not bad for this old lady with the bad bifocals, eh?


      1. i read about 10 to 15 books a week. And no I don’t read those icky harlequins….lol Non-fiction is my fav…biographies, history that sort of thing, then fiction. I will read almost anything. I am working my way through the library stacks and am into the botany section and up to the R’s in fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. IIRC, you worked at a library for children, yes? Could you tell me more about that?

          I suppose I need to start reading more nonfiction. But don’t know romance novels. I say as long as someone finds something they like to read, it gives them another reason to. The problems arise when people shy away from current events, historical text, and any informational text that expands their applicable knowledge.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. good points. yes I worked at a library. I founded one actually. Our town didn’t have one and I badgered the city council (of which I was a member) to give us a building to use, begged donations, collected books in every category of a library, coordinated the place and ran the place for three years. Started literacy classes, ESL classes, etc. I created a reading program for kids to get them away from their phone apps….lol it worked too. Kids want to read, they want to learn. One of the things I noticed with the soon as they started to read “romance” they tended to shy away from anything else. I don’t know if it was simply the prurient nature of the genre that sucked them in, or some other aspect. When they first started reading, any genre was fun for them…the science fiction was generally the most checked out genre. It was interesting watching the books they chose. The more they read in historical fiction,science fiction and biography the higher their grades went in every subject. Once they got into the “bodice ripper romances” though grades went back down again. I wish someone would do a study scientifically about it.


  2. Interesting topic. I might share that I taught Speed Reading in College as part of my courseload. As your sample test shows, reading rate really means little if you don’t factor in comprehension of what one has read. Typically, my course goal was to help my students read at 200 words per minute at 80% comprehension rate. A good test to test your college reading test with comprehension might be the Nelson Denny Inventory. Skimming Rate however can be near 1000 wpm.


    1. Thanks for the info. I will make not of it.

      I wanted to take a speed reading course, but I was once told that most of those courses were based on skimming. While skimming can be useful, I generally want to read the content and retain what I’ve read.

      My goal now is to reach 300 wpm. After that, 600 wpm should be my goal for optimal efficiency.


  3. Selka

    I did this some months ago. Avg 800wpm with all the questions right. I’ve always been perceived as a freakishly fast reader, and read faster than anyone I know, so 1200 is crazy fast!
    I read about two books a week, and my theory is that when you read a lot, you start to see sentence fragments as shapes, beyond recognizing the shapes of words.


  4. Pingback: How Fast Do You Read? I Share My Reading Speed — Shmaltz and Menudo | Arrowhead Freelance and Publishing

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