How To Measure Your Reading Speed

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If you are learning speed reading you need to keep a record of your progress. Monitoring your reading speed as your train will allow you to observe your advances, and, when none is observed, detect where there is a problem and correct it.

Hence, you need to know your reading speed.

You should measure three things

When measuring reading speed, you may be interested in three measures, all three required to understand how your speed reading is progressing:

  • Average Speed

First, you should measure your average speed (AS). The AS measures the number of words you can read in a minute, even if you do not understand nor memorize anything of what you read.

To measure your AS choose a page of a book and count the number of words. Then use a timer to measure how long does it take you to read the page. Then divide the number of words by the minutes taken. Your AS is measured in Words Per Minute (WPM).

  • Processing Speed

A good reading speed measure should take into account the comprehension of the text, which is measured by the processing speed (PS). The goal of speed reading is to read fast, but also to understand what is read. Hence, you should read fast, but you should also try to understand everything you read. In order to measure how much you understood the text you read, you should answer some questions after the measurement of the AS (drawback: the questions must have been prepared by someone else). The number of questions answered correctly will determine your percentage of understanding.

For example, if you answered correctly 7 out of 12 questions, then your PS  is:

 PS = 7 * 100 / 12 = 58 %

  • Memorizing Speed

Your memorizing speed is the amount of words you can read and comprehending per minute. This number is obtained by multiplying your AS by your PS (in percentage). For example, if you AS was of 600 WPM and your PS was of 75%, your memorizing speed is:

Memorizing Speed = 600 * 0.75 = 450 WPM

 

As you may expect, the goal with speed reading is to have a very fast memorizing speed. And for that you must have a fast average speed and a very good processing speed.

Once you know your reading speed, you may want to know how good or bad your speed is. I do not recommend doing that comparison, because I advocate to focus on progress rather than on comparison against others. However, many students keep asking this information. Hence, read the following table (created by Turboread) that describes how the different reading speeds segments compare to each other.

1 – 100 wpm    Children learn to read within this range of reading speed. If a learner does not progress past this range, the reading ability is considered to be that of borderline literacy. A reader within this range will most likely have very little understanding and memory of what they have read. Reading is very hard work below 100 wpm.
100 – 200 wpm    Within this range, a reading speed quite typical of someone who has done only  theabsolute minimum of reading that is necessary to get by in life. For this person, reading is not thought of as fun, relaxing or entertaining. Within this range, it’s almost impossible to stay updated with world events, technology, etc. A reader’s understanding and memory is usually less than half (50%) of that which their eyes have seen.
200 – 250 wpm This is considered an average reading range. Without getting help, most readers will be stuck here for their entire reading lives. They are constantly dogged by regressions, reading sub-vocalization and concentration problems. Generally, their understanding is about half of what they read.
250 – 350 wpm Reading speeds in this range are slightly above-average of that of most readers. It is usual to find post-high school graduates or casually keen readers scoring these rates. Readers still suffer from regressions but they don’t sub-vocalize as many of the words on the page. Typically, readers here understand a little more than half of what they read.
350 – 500 wpm   If you score a reading speed within this range, you are well above that of average speed. As a result, your comprehension and understanding is usually quite good (50% – 75%). You probably enjoy reading. You still suffer from occasional regressions and sub-vocalization. This is because your mind still drifts away from your reading. You should read faster!
500 – 800 wpm Now this is a very respectable and useful reading speed. It is giving you excellent comprehension (75% and above). You find reading pleasurable and you have good control over your daily reading study and office needs. After all, you found the book better than the movie, didn’t you?
800 – 1000 wpm This is an extremely efficient reading speed. This is becoming ‘power-reading’. You have very slight sub-vocalization and you almost never regress. You can recognize and understand most of the words easily. You usually completely understand what you read. You have no reading pressures or reading time problems. You are most likely a top-class student or high business achiever. A reading speed here is typical of someone who has done quality reading improvement program.
1000 wpm & faster Wow – now we are talking! You are either a natural or tutored speed reader. Readers above these speeds most often completely understand what they have read. You have complete control over all your reading needs. Reading is a substantial part of your life. You regularly enjoy two or more novels per week. KEEP IT UP!

Be careful that here we are talking about READING, not talking about SKIMMING. Hence reading speeds above 1300 wpm are not possible.

Measuring your reading speed with a program

Above, I explained how to measure your speeds manually. However you can use programs that already perform all the calculations for you, and prepare the required questions for processing speed. Here it is a list of them:

  • Speed Reading test online: a webapp that provides a reading test with comprehension questions. However, it is a one time only test (since the text used is always the same).
  • Free Speed Reading Test, by AceReader: a webapp that contains several tests with questionaire.
  • My read speed: a webapp that measures your reading speed in WPM. 10 different tests, but does not include questions about comprohension of the test.
  • Speed reading test, by Staples: for me the best webapp to measure your reading speed. Many different texts to test you, also with questionaire. It is very interesting that, after you have completed the text, it will indicate you how long would it take you to read some famous books, based on your results. Funny!

Also, there are many apps for mobile or tablets that allow you to measure your reading speed. I would recommend the following:

Conclussion

Measure your reading speed every two weeks as you train to observe your progress or lack of. If you train properly, you should observe an increase in your Memorizing Speed.  Otherwise, there is a problem with your training and need to modify it. How to do that will be the subject of future posts.

What is your current reading speed? Share it with us.

 

 

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