Average Reading Speed by Age – Are You Fast Enough? | Iris Reading
Average Reading Speed by Age - Are You Fast Enough?

Average Reading Speed by Age – Are You Fast Enough?

Average Reading Speed by Age - Are You Fast Enough?

The average reading rates for kids in grades 1-6 are between 80  and 185 words per minute (wpm). Teens have an average reading speed of 195 to 204 wpm. For college-aged adults, the average reading speed is between 200 and 300 words per minute. This speed declines steadily with age.

Did you know that reading can affect your quality of life? 

Reading is a wonderful but complex skill. It combines your cognitive, visual, and kinetic abilities to help you understand words and phrases.

We earn this skill through practice and learning.  But, not everyone learns this skill from childhood. This is unfortunate because you experience a lower quality of life if you have reading difficulties.

The first step is to find out your reading speed. Then, you can gauge whether your reading speed falls within the average for your age group.

This article will delve into the average reading speed for kids, teenagers, and adults. We also explain how you can improve your reading speed (and quality of life) if you fall below average.

Let’s dive in!

What is the average reading speed for kids?

The average reading rates for kids in grades 1-3 are 80 words per minute, 115 words per minute, and 138 words per minute respectively. Grade 4 and 5 kids have 158 and 173 words per minute, respectively. Lastly, grade 6 students have an average reading speed of 185 words per minute. 

Average reading speed for kids’ age groups

Brysbaert references Taylor’s (1995) study on reading rates in 2,203 children. The study showed that the average reading speed increases from 80 words per minute (grade 1) to 185 words per minute (grade 6). As kids grow older and practice their reading skills, their reading speed increases.

Here is a tabulated average reading speed for each grade level:

Grade

Average reading speed 

(words per minute)

1

80 

2

115

3

138

4

158

5

173

6

185

 

From the table, you can see that the reading rate increases at each grade. The average reading rate for middle-school students aged between 11 and 12 is 185 words per minute. This is slightly more than double the average reading speed for 1st graders (6-7 years).

Though not shown in the table, the average reading rate for a kindergarten-aged child is 10 words per minute.

This reading test can help you find out your child’s reading speed. You can also listen to how your child sounds out words. 

If your child reads one word at a time or takes lots of pauses when reading, then they may be having trouble extracting and comprehending what they read.

Another test is to check your child’s processing ability. If your child exerts a lot of effort to decode a text, they’re probably having difficulty reading fluently. 

Ideally, your child should exert little to no effort to decode text, word by word. They should spend most of the energy trying to understand the text.

Good readers have a higher cruising speed. However, most readers fall within a certain average score. 

If your child falls below the average reading rate for his/her age group, it could be because of:

  • Visual difficulty
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Cognitive difficulty
  • Reading disabilities

Here are four tips to improve your child’s reading speed

  1. More practice on comprehension and memorization
  2. Create a reading culture in your home. Children from homes where reading is common practice have a broader vocabulary. They also have more comprehensive knowledge and are more likely to enjoy learning to read different words.
  3. Help them learn how to clap for sounds in three-letter words. It teaches them to associate sounds with the different letters.
  4. Make reading practice enjoyable by using material that appeals to the child.

What is the average reading speed for teenagers?

The average reading speed for teenagers is 190 words per minute (for contextual sentences) and 140 words per minute (for random words). Teens in grades 7-8 have an average reading speed of 195 to 204 words per minute. This increases to 250 words per minute in grade 12.

By the time a teenager turns 18 years, their average reading rate is 250 words per minute. This is significantly higher than a child’s reading speed.

While the highest reading rate for children is 185 words per minute, teenagers have a reading speed between 195 and 250 words per minute.

Average reading speed for teenage age groups

The average reading speed increases steadily from middle school to high school. 

Here is a breakdown of the average reading speed for grades 7 through 12.

Grade

Average reading speed

7

195

8

204

9

214

10

224

11

237

12

250

 

By grades 7 and 8, most teenagers will read within the 195 – 204 words per minute range. In grades 9 and 10, their reading speed will have progressed through practice and memorization. 

However, this progress is slower than in the primary-school level because most teenagers pursue different interests outside school work.

By grade 12, their reading rate will have increased to 250 or more. This could be because they are practicing more in preparation for their exams. It is also when they learn the art of skimming. 

Below are 6 tips for improving your teenager’s reading speed

  1. Create a daily reading habit. Fifteen minutes of daily reading can improve your reading speed.
  2. Incorporate skimming into your reading practice.
  3. Practice reading in chunks instead of focusing on every word in a sentence or paragraph.
  4. Create visual images of what you read. This will improve your mental cognition, which increases your reading speed.
  5. Address any physical handicaps that affect your reading. For instance, you could consider buying glasses or contact lenses to help you see clearly.
  6. Where possible, you can change the typography and contrast of the text. 

What is the average reading speed for an adult?

The average reading speed for a college-age adult (18 years to 24 years) is 193 words per minute (for contextual sentences) and 137 words per minute (for random words). The average reading speed ranges from 200 words to 250 words per minute in older adults.

Fast readers can read from 350 words to 600 words per minute. Most times, they don’t read every word in a text. They read in chunks, skim and create visual images to increase their comprehension.

Average reading speed for adult age groups

College-aged adults have a higher reading speed of 300 words per minute than post-college adults. This is because their coursework influences them to practice reading.

Age

Average reading speed

20-25 years

300

26 -30 years

250

31- 45 years

200

46 – 60 years

190

Above 60 years

180

 

A 2019 study found that the average reading rate for fiction books is 238 words per minute. The study contradicted general knowledge that the average reading rate is 300 words per minute.

As adults age, their reading speed declines steadily. The figure below illustrates this.

Source

After 45, you may experience visual impairment that affects your reading speed. Your eye-tracking ability declines with age as well.

By 60 years, your contrast sensitivity will reduce and impair your reading ability. At this age, your vision goes through physiological changes. The pupil size becomes smaller, and the crystalline lens increases in density, which reduces retinal illuminance. 

When this happens, your ability to read at an average rate reduces. This is based on a comparison study of reading speeds, reading acuity, and ability among different age groups.

Comparison of average reading speed across different age groups

Here is a graphical representation of the average speeds among different age groups

Source

From the figure, teenagers and young adults have higher average reading speeds than children and adults.

There are common factors that affect the reading speed across the board. These are:

  • Age of the reader
  • Typography – font type and font size
  • Eye movement
  • Contrast
  • Quality of vision
  • Reading disability

How to test your reading speed

You can test your reading speed by reading three types of material:

  • Easy such as a magazine or online article such as this one.
  • Intermediate such as a novel.
  • Difficult such as a textbook or scholarly article.

For each material, record your reading speed in words per minute. You can set a 1-minute timer and then count the number of words you read in that period.

This will give you a set of three scores, one for each material type. You’ll know your reading speed for easy material, intermediate-level material, and difficult material from these scores.

Reading these different material types will help you see how your reading speed fluctuates.

Your reading speed with easy material is your higher speed range, and the reading speed with difficult material represents your lower speed range. So you’ll have an upper and lower speed reading range instead of one arbitrary number.

You can then compare your upper and lower speed reading rates with the average reading rate for your age. If it is below average or you would like to have an above-average rate, this speed reading course will train you to increase your reading speed.

Conclusion

On average, the reading speed increases from childhood into teenage and young adulthood. It then reduces steadily in adults. For kids in grades 1 to 6, their average reading speed falls between 80 words and 185 words per minute. Teens in grades 7 through 12 can read between 115 words per minute and 185 words per minute.

College-aged adults can read between 200 and 300 words, while adults have an average reading rate of 200 words and 250 words per minute. This speed declines steadily with age.

If you fall below these average figures for your age group, worry not! Our free and paid speed reading fundamental courses will help you improve your reading speed. We recommend taking speed reading to boost your performance in our memory improvement course.

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