How fast do you read?

by Grace

Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?

That’s the question posed by Brett Nelson in Forbes.  He sees a link between speedy reading and success.

The most successful people I know don’t just read—they inhale information.

Average reading speeds:

Average adult:  300 WPM
Average college student:  450 WPM
High-level executive:  575 WPM
High-scoring college student:  800 WPM
Speed readers:  1500 WPM

Staples has on online test you can take to get a sense of your reading speed.  It seems a bit flawed because it only includes a very short passage.  Wouldn’t a lengthier test be more accurate?  I believe I read faster after a few minutes as I get into the groove of a book.

I took the test and the results showed I’m a relatively slow reader.  Most of my reading these days is on the Internet, and I’ve developed a habit of skimming that does not lend itself to deep comprehension.


I’m informed that if I kept up this pace, I could finish War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy in 27 hours and 7 minutes.

Confession:  This was my second try at the test after my first attempt put me even closer to the average reading level.  I’m embarrassed to be average.

I invite you to try the test and post your results in the comments.  Click the image to go to the test.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

Related:  Using the Internet is ‘supereasy’, but ‘deep reading, advanced math, scientific reasoning’ is hard (Cost of College)


4 Comments to “How fast do you read?”

  1. I had 462 words per minute. However, this was a piece of fiction, which is pretty easy to read. You just skim it and note the details. You can’t read technical or scientific texts in the same way. The problem is, my students try to approach reading their textbooks and other materials in the same way they would approach this text – skim and note details. It doesn’t work! I have to constantly tell them to slow dow, and reread key sections over and over. So I think being a fast reader can actually be detrimental when you need to read material that isn’t fiction.


  2. I think that the reading speeds reported are greatly inflated. Most executives I’ve met read relatively slowly—what they do most often is read very selectively, considering a report read if they have understood the executive summary and dipped into a page here and there.

    Is Brett Nelson selling a speed-reading course? (Most of them are snake oil.)


  3. CSProfMom — I don’t usually just skim fiction, maybe because the few fiction books I read have language or stories that I enjoy reading slowly.

    “So I think being a fast reader can actually be detrimental when you need to read material that isn’t fiction.”

    I agree. I tested my speed using a 30-minute time spend reading the current nonfiction, somewhat technical book I am currently reading and my time was even slower than the Staples test! However, I was rereading sections, making sure I understood newly introduced terms, and highlighting sections. Yeah, that type of reading can go slowly.

    So it appears that I am just a slow reader for both fiction and nonfiction. I envy speed readers. I noticed that people who enjoy thrillers often rush through their reading because they want to get to the next section — “page-turners” is what they call these books. I rarely read these.


  4. “Most executives I’ve met read relatively slowly”

    A comment from the Reddit thread where I originally found this test described the typical executive as looking at a paper and then handing it over to his assistant to read it for him. 🙂


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