The average reading speed of a child in primary school is around 200 words per minute (wpm). By the time we reach adulthood, it hasn’t improved very much, as, on average, most adults read at a rate of about 200 – 250 wpm. While comprehension at this rate is considered reasonable, at 250 wpm it will be difficult to read large amounts of information in a short period of time.
Certain individuals claim to read at speeds of 10 000 wpm or even 25 000 wpm and say they are still able to understand all they have read. Even though rates like this may be achieved by these exceptional individuals, a speed of 1000 – 1200 wpm is the rate at which contestants read at the World Championship speed reading competitions. Therefore, if your average reading speed comes anywhere near this rate, you can consider yourself doing fantastically well. Do not feel that you need to reach championship levels in order to achieve your learning and reading goals. It is up to each and every individual to decide how far to push the speed limits!
For a person interested in increasing his abilities, a goal of 500 – 800 wpm is an excellent target. At this rate it is possible to get through large quantities of work in a short time and maintain a comprehension level of about 75% or more. This is an excellent level of comprehension and probably more than adequate for any of your required purposes. Compare this to the average reading rate 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. In order to have reached this level, an individual may have invested in an excellent speed reading course and practiced speed drills. Believe it or not, comprehension at this level is also outstanding, reaching levels of 100% or very close to 100%.
Results of 100 – 200 wpm is considered a basic reading rate. In adult terms this is a below average speed, but for children between the ages of 6 and 12, it may be considered as average. Only low levels of comprehension are achieved at this rate. An adult who reads at this pace will be amazed at what some of the simple techniques will do for his reading speed. Reading at any pace below 100 wpm will probably 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 rate comprehension will be difficult.