What is the average reading speed and the best reading speed?
The average reading speed of an elementary school child is about 200 words per minute (wpm). By the time we reach adulthood this has not improved much as on average most adults read at around 200 – 250 wpm. While comprehension at this speed is considered reasonable, at 250 wpm it will be difficult to read large amounts of information in a short period of time.
Some people claim to read at 10,000 wpm or even 25,000 wpm and say they can still understand everything they read. Although similar speeds can be achieved by these exceptional individuals, a speed of 1000 – 1200 wpm is the speed at which competitors read in the World Championship Speed Reading competitions. Therefore, if your average reading speed is anywhere near this speed, you can consider yourself doing fantastically well. Don’t feel like you have to reach championship levels to reach your learning and reading goals. Everyone decides for themselves how far to move the speed limits!
For a person interested in increasing their abilities, a goal of 500 – 800 wpm is an excellent goal. At this rate, it is possible to tackle large amounts of work in a short time and maintain a comprehension level of around 75% or more. This is an excellent level of understanding and probably more than enough for any of your needs. Compare this to the average reading speed of adults (200 – 250 wpm), where their comprehension level is only half or slightly more of the material they have read.
800 – 1000 wpm would be an outstanding achievement. To reach this level, one may have invested in an excellent speed reading course and practiced speed exercises. Believe it or not, comprehension at this level is also exceptional, reaching levels of 100% or very close to 100%.
Scores of 100 – 200 wpm are considered basic reading speed. For adults, this is below average speed, but for children between the ages of 6 and 12, it can be considered average. Only low levels of understanding are achieved at this rate. An adult reading at this pace will be amazed at what a few simple techniques will do for their reading speed. Reading below 100 wpm is likely to be read by someone who is still learning to read, or perhaps by someone who is reading in a second or third language. At this speed, understanding will be difficult.
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