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How to Measure Your Reading Speed

If you want to measure your reading speed, you have a few options.

The question is…

Why do you want to know how fast you read?

Is it to keep a record of your progress?

Or are you learning speed reading techniques?

Perhaps it’s something else altogether.

Perhaps your real goal is to simply start learning faster.

Either way, this page will help you.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Reading Speed?

The exact definition of reading speed is taken quite literally by speed reading gurus.

We’ll discuss what these metrics in a minute.

But here’s the ultimate question you need to ask:

Does it really matter how fast you can read if you’re reading the wrong books?

With that question in mind, let’s look at how reading speed is typically measured.

How to Measure Your Reading Speed

When measuring reading speed, here’s what people typically focus on in order to ensure that their speed reading is trackable and ultimately progresses over time:

  • Average Speed

First, measure your average speed (AS). The AS gives you the number of words you can read in a minute.

You should measure this, even if you do not understand or commit anything you read to memory.

Here’s how to do it:

Choose a page of a book and count the number of words. Then use a timer to measure how long you take 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

Next, you need to know how well you comprehend what you just read.

Your comprehension is measured by the processing speed (PS).

This metric is important because your goal is not just to read fast. It’s also to understand quickly.

For this reason, make sure you always try to understand everything you read when measuring this metric.


To measure how much you understand, write out a summary after you measurement the AS. If the book includes study questions, you can also measure these, but often you won’t have them. Writing a simple 2-5 sentence summary will have to do and will still help you generally 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 %

But if you don’t have questions and you write a quick summary, if you’re able to adequately describe what the text meant, you can give yourself a grade of A-D.

  • Memorizing Speed

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

Memorizing Speed = 600 * 0.75 = 450 WPM

Setting Realistic Reading Goals

As you might expect, many people mistake their reading speed with their comprehending and remembering speed. To improve these, you must work on developing a fast average speed and a very good processing speed.

Here’s a chart you can use to help grade yourself. You can use it to set some benchmarks too.

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. Most people reading this blog will struggle to read at 100 wpm, but it’s not a bad training exercise to try and slow down.
100 – 200 wpm    This range is the absolute minimum to get by in life. But someone reading at this speed probably doesn’t find it relaxing or entertaining. It’s highly unlikely you can stay updated with world events, technology, etc. at this rate. It may even reduce your comprehension merely by reading at this speed.
200 – 250 wpm This is considered an average reading range. There’s nothing wrong with this reading rate, but you will probably feel that you want to improve it. And you can.
250 – 350 wpm Reading speeds in this range are slightly above-average of that of most readers.
350 – 500 wpm   This rate represents above average speed, but comprehension is probably starting to suffer. One reason this happens is because you’re reducing subvocalization. Unfortunately, many people tell you to reduce it, but this simply isn’t true.
500 – 800 wpm If you can read this speed, a fiction novel will start to feel like a movie. Provided you can maintain comprehension, that is.
800 – 1000 wpm It is unlikely that you are comprehending anything at this speed.
1000 wpm & faster Note that a person who claims to have a Guinness World Record for this speed apparently hasn’t read his own record. It says he got it for convincing the most talk show radio hosts he can read this fast, not that he actually can read that fast.

As you consider these reading benchmarks, keep this point in mind:

We are talking about authentically reading books, not skimming or scanning them.

Can Software Programs Measure Your Reading Speed?

Theoretically, yes. Here are a few that exist online:

There are also apps for mobile and tablet that allow you to measure your reading speed. Here are some examples:


Although you certainly can improve your reading speed, it’s not necessarily the highest priority. Instead, you might consider these tips for how to read faster without needing to measure anything at all. Except perhaps how great you feel because you’re finally knocking back multiple books per week, remembering them and understanding them perfectly well.

Now that’s something worth racing towards!



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