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How to Calculate Words Per Minute Reading Speed

Updated on 12/19/22

Have you ever wondered how fast you read compared to others? It is easy to calculate your word per minute reading speed and can be beneficial to do so.

The easiest way to get a quick assessment of your reading speed is by setting a timer for one minute, hit go, and start reading. Once the timer ends, count how many words you read in that minute. The basic formula is the number of words read divided by the minutes it took to read.

This is the most straightforward way to calculate your reading speed, but you may want to be more precise.

Words Per Minute Speed

To calculate words per minute more accurately, you can first convert your time into seconds to get a precise decimal calculation.

To do this, you take the number of whole minutes you read, multiply it by 60, then add the extra number of seconds.

(Whole Minutes Read x 60 + Extra Seconds Read = Total Seconds Read)

Then you simply divide the number of words you read by the total number of seconds read.

(Number of Words Read / Total Seconds Read = Words Per Second.)

You now have words per second, so you multiply your answer by 60 to get your final words per minute speed.

(Words Per Second x 60 = Words Per Minute)


You read a 550-word article in 2 minutes, (Whole Minutes) and 29 seconds, (Leftover Seconds.)

2 x 60 + 29 = 149  Total Seconds Read

550 / 149 = 3.69 Words Per Second

3.69 x 60 = 221.47 Words Per Minute

221.47 is an average (wpm) reading speed.

If you don’t want to take the time to calculate your speed by hand, you can find a speed reading test online. These make the process very easy and automated.

What is the Average Reading Speed?

The average reading speed is 200 to 250 words a minute for adults reading non-technical material.

If you calculate your speed, you can see where you stand and learn what you may be able to do to speed up your reading a bit.

Learning to increase your reading speed and comprehension can make reading for school, work, or even fun, a lot easier.

Check out some easy ways to calculate your reading speed and see if you are a speed reading champion, or if you need a little improvement.

Words Per Minute Factors

When calculating your reading speed in (wpm), there are some essential things to consider for accuracy.

Reading Level of Material

The reading level is crucial as an adult will more likely score higher if they are reading a children’s level book instead of something like a news article.

You should read something at your level when testing your speed, and try to keep it at that same level, or higher, to challenge yourself on further tests.

Text Size

It’s also important to consider text size when testing your speed because smaller text is naturally harder to read than bigger text.

This may not be a huge deal, but it is something to think about for reliable testing.

Familiarity With Material

If you have already read the material you are using to test your speed, it can skew your test score. It just becomes easier to piece things together if you already know a little about it or have read it completely.

For each test, try to use some new material that you haven’t read before.

A reliable way to test your reading speed on unfamiliar material is by using reading speed tests online. These are very useful as they allow you to set the reading difficulty and time for your reading. They also test you for comprehension.

Reading Speed Charts

Once you have figured out your words per minute speed, now you can see where you stack up.

You can use this chart to better understand how much work is needed for you to become a speed reading champion.

Reading Speed Chart

Average Reading Speed For Adults

The average reading speed for an adult is around 200-300 (wpm).

An average adult will normally read around 200-250 (wpm), while an adult college student will more likely read closer to 300 (wpm).

The fastest readers in the world claim to read more than 25,000 words per minute!

However, the current speed reading champions are tested and proven to be able to read in the 1000-2000(wpm) range.

Reading Words Per Minute By Grade Level

Here are the average reading speeds for schools grades level 1-12.

The below stats are the words per minute for youth without any vision issues.

1st Grade – Less than 81

2nd Grade – 82 – 108

3rd Grade – 109 – 130

child reading

4th Grade – 131 – 147

5th Grade – 148 – 161

6th Grade – 162 – 174

7th Grade – 175 – 185

8th Grade – 186 – 197

9th Grade – 198 – 209

10th Grade – 210 – 224

11th Grade – 225 – 240

12th Grade – 241 – 255