How Fast Is Considered Speed Reading? (Quick Facts) | Iris Reading
How Fast Is Considered Speed Reading

How Fast Is Considered Speed Reading? (Quick Facts)

How Fast Is Considered Speed Reading

Have you ever felt you have so much to read and so little time to cover it all? Many people have been there – the student with many textbooks, the leisure reader with many interesting fiction books, the professional with many documents to review, etc.

Interestingly, with speed-reading, you can read much more than you currently have to read and in far less time.

But what exactly is speed-reading, and how fast is considered speed-reading? This article will answer these questions.

Let’s get started with some quick facts about reading speed.

  • The average reading speed for an adult is 250 wpm.
  • The normal reading speed when reading fast is 300 – 400 wpm.
  • Speed reading helps you perform better than normal fast reading, taking your reading speed to 400 – 700 wpm (without losing comprehension)
  • Some speed reading experts can read as much as 1,000 wpm.

What is the average reading speed for an adult?

The general adult population read 150 – 250 words per minute, while adults with college education read 200 – 300 words per minute. However, on average, adults read around 250 words per minute.

An individual’s reading speed depends on several factors, such as education, the difficulty of the material, the purpose of reading, etc.  

Factors affecting reading speed

Let’s discuss each of the factors affecting reading speed in more detail to understand what their role is. 


College education requires a lot of reading. It often feels like there’s so much to read and too little time to read it all. Thus, speed reading is a must for college students

The more you read, the better and faster you become at it, so college education would cause people to read more and faster than they would usually read. As a result, the reading speed of college-educated adults tends to be faster than the normal reading speed.

Nature of the material

The more complex a material is, the slower an individual would read it. For example, while you may coast through Dr. Seuss’s children’s books, it will not be so when reading fiction or magazine articles, and you’ll go much slower with technical materials like Advanced Physics textbooks, for instance.

Purpose of reading

The reader’s motivation also affects reading speed. For example, people read faster when reading for pleasure than when reading to understand and absorb essential details (like when reading for a test).


  • When trying to analyze or memorize something, people read at a very slow rate of about 100 – 150 wpm. 
  • When wanting to understand a text, people read at a slow to moderate speed of about 150 – 250 wpm.
  • When reading just to get the gist of a text, people read at a fast rate of about 300 – 400 wpm.

What is considered speed reading?

Speed-reading is using special techniques to read super-fast without losing comprehension. A reading speed above 300 – 400 wpm is considered speed reading.

But speed-reading is not simply reading fast. It entails comprehending what you read as you coast through the material.

Know that as reading speed increases, you reach a point where comprehension starts dropping. Speed-reading means getting to a super-human reading rate without reaching that point of losing comprehension.

What is the average speed reading rate?

When people read fast, the rate is about 300 – 400 wpm. Speed reading helps you perform better than that, as it takes your reading rate to about 400 – 700 wpm, with the average speed-reading rate being about 550 wpm.

Speed reading helps some people achieve a reading rate of about 1,000 wpm. However, this insanely fast reading rate comes with a slight dip (about 15%) in comprehension. 

How to speed up the reading process

Interestingly, virtually everyone can learn to speed-read so that they can read at super-fast speed while fully comprehending what is read.

Some techniques that can help you achieve this include:

  • Reducing subvocalization
  • Using meta guiding
  • Practicing with an RSVP (Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation) reader
  • Chunking words when reading
  • Taking a speed-reading course

Reduce subvocalization to read faster

Subvocalization means speaking the words in your head as you read. It affects virtually everybody because that is how we are taught to read.

Unfortunately, subvocalization limits your reading speed to your talking speed. When you speak the word in your head when reading, you’ll be able to read only as fast as you speak.

If you can stop the inner monologue (repeating words in your head) when reading, you’ll be able to read faster than you can talk, setting you on the path to speed-reading.

Use meta guiding to pace the eyes as you read 

Meta-guiding is simply guiding the eye with a pointer so that it moves faster along a line of text. The easiest way to apply meta-guiding is to run a pen or your finger under the words of a text as you read.

The key to the success of meta-guiding is running the pointer faster than you usually read. As the pointer goes faster, you’ll reduce fixations because your eyes will follow it, and you’ll find yourself reading more quickly.

Practice with an RSVP (Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation) reader

Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation (RSVP) reader is a tool that flashes words at you at a set speed and tasks you to read the words.

An RSVP reader helps you practice speed-reading. The key is setting the reader to flash the words at a rate a little faster than you usually read. When you get comfortable with that speed, you can set the reader to flash the words faster.

One of the best RSVP readers you’ll find is AccelaReader. The reader is customizable, allowing you to set how fast you want to read (how fast it flashes words), how many words it flashes at once, the text size, and much more. 

Chunk words when reading

Chunking words means reading a group of words at once instead of reading the words in a text one by one.

The human eyes can take in about 1.5 inches of text at a time, covering about 4 – 5 words in a line of text. So, instead of reading the words in a line of text singly, you can read faster by reading them in groups of 4s or 5s.

Chunking words when reading improves reading speed because it reduces fixations. When reading, the eyes do not glide smoothly along the line of text. Instead, it stops briefly to take in words before moving to the next. So, when you read words singly, your eyes will have too many “stops” as you go along a line of text.

You can use an RSVP reader like AccelaReader to practice word chunking. You can set the reader to flash you multiple words at once. Then, you try to read the words as it flashes them. You may start with three (3) words at once, and when you get comfortable with that, you may increase it to 4, 5, etc.

Take a speed reading course

While you may succeed at anything with effort and will, having expert guidance always makes it easier. Expert guidance comes in the form of specialized courses prepared to help people speed-read.

Experts in the field of speed-reading and memory come with specialized knowledge about how words are fed to the eyes, how the mind processes words when reading, how comprehension works, and more. As such, experts know what works and what doesn’t when an individual tries to improve reading speed. Thus, expert guidance helps accelerate the time it takes to learn speed-reading.

For example, consider the Speed Reading Foundation Course, perfect for students and professionals just getting into speed-reading. Its lessons include how to overcome some things that reduce reading speed, which you may not even realize are there (such as a slight pause at the end of a sentence, end of sentence restart, etc.). The course also teaches how to optimize the use of the RSVP reader.


The normal reading rate (from slow to very fast) is 100 – 400 words per minute. 

Speed reading means reading faster than this normal range without losing comprehension. Speed readers read as much as 400 – 700 words per minute, with some speedsters reaching 1,000 words per minute.

Thankfully, everyone can learn to speed read, by reducing subvocalization, using meta guiding, practicing with an RSVP reader, chunking words when reading, and taking speed reading courses.

Talking of speed reading courses, Iris Reading, the largest and most trusted provider of speed-reading training, has some of the best speed-reading courses you’ll find. These include the Speed-Reading Foundation Course, the Speed Reading Master Course, the Speed Reading for Business Professionals Course, etc.

Iris Reading strongly emphasizes comprehension and retention so that while you coast through texts at super-human speed, you understand and remember what you’ve read.

Ready to master speed-reading so you can cover more material in less time? Get expert guidance from Iris Reading. Register for an Iris Reading speed-reading course today!

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