How To Accurately Measure Your Reading Speed
How To Accurately Measure Your Reading Speed

How To Accurately Measure Your Reading Speed

How To Accurately Measure Your Reading Speed

Do you have lots of paperwork to get through with the deadline stalking you at every corner? Is there a lot of reading involved? Are you keen on learning how to master the art of accurately measuring your reading speed?

Improving your reading involves determining your reading efficiency by measuring your reading speed. It consists in reading a section for one minute and counting the number of words you’ve read. The answer you get is your reading speed per minute (words per minute – wpm). 

Speed reading is imperative if you wish to succeed in assignments requiring lots of research, proficiency tests, timed writing, and lectures. 

Read on to learn more about measuring your reading speeds.

Measure Your Reading Speed 

The first step you must take to measure your reading speed accurately is to understand that most of the reading material you encounter will generally fall into three content categories:

  1. Easy reading material
  2. Medium-level reading material
  3. Difficult reading material

If you want to measure your reading speed accurately, you should do so for all three ranges of difficulty that you read (easy, medium & difficult). Doing so will give you a “reading range,” which provides a more accurate assessment of your reading speed. For example, you may read 300 words per minute (wpm) through accessible material, 200 wpm through medium-level material, and 100 wpm through complex material.

What if you could be 50% faster? How much more of this material could you get through daily, and how much more free time would you have?

Reading speed calculation formula

These are steps to follow when calculating your reading speed. 

  1. Estimate the total word count on one page. Determine the total words in two lines, then divide them by two. For instance, if there are 38 words in the two lines, words per line are 19.
  2. Determine the lines on one page. Multiply them by the total words per line. Thus, if there are 60 lines on a given page, it translates to 60*19=1,140 words on the page.
  3. Go ahead and read the whole page. Count the total seconds it takes to complete it.
  4. Divide the words per page by the total seconds taken, multiplied by 60. For example, let’s say it takes you 5:30 (330 seconds) to read a page. 1,140 words/330 seconds * 60= 207.2 WPM.
  5. Keep measuring your reading speed periodically. Technically, you should use the same book to determine your improvement. 

The words per minute formula:

WPM=Words on a page/total seconds used to read the page * 60

Slow > 200 – 250 WPM

Average > 250 – 280 WPM

High Average > 280 – 300 WPM

Fast > 300 – 400 WPM

Extremely rare > 400+ words

Steps to accurately measure reading speed

To accurately measure your reading speed, you need to complete the following seven steps:

  1. Use a stopwatch or a phone as your timer
  2. Select a reading test
  3. Set your timer and begin reading
  4. Turn off the timer once done with the reading
  5. Note down the time taken when reading the text
  6. Use the formula above to determine the reading speed in WPM
  7. Select and complete ten true/false questions to know your comprehension level

What kind of reading material should you use?

You want to start by measuring your reading speed with medium-level material. This is probably the material you often read as part of your daily routine. This can include general news, blog posts, and magazine content (Perfect Examples: Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, New York Times, or The Economist). Bestseller fiction and non-fiction would also fall in this category.

To measure your reading speed, you simply read for one minute and count how many words you read in that one minute. This is your “words per minute” (wpm) reading speed.

If you would instead not count every single word, you can approximate your reading speed by counting the number of lines you read and multiplying that by the average number of words per line.

After measuring your reading speed in medium-level material, you will want to measure it again with accessible material. Straightforward content would be considered light fiction or nonfiction, general news, comics, children’s books, and anything else that seems like simple reading to you. Typically, you’ll read this kind of material at a faster pace than medium-level content. Measure your reading speed again in this type of material.

Now that you have figured out your reading speed in medium-level and accessible material, you will want to determine your reading speed in more difficult reading. Doing so will give you a better analysis of your reading speed across different types of material.

Difficult reading comes out as dense, technical material. Philosophy, the sciences, textbooks, work material, industry, trade, or academic journals can fall in that category. This also includes the most time-consuming material and requires the most concentration on your part as a reader. This may also encompass most of what you read for school or at work.

Measure your reading speed for this challenging material. Now that you have done so, you can be confident that you have measured your reading speed in the most general way across all types of reading that you may do.

These three reading speeds are now the benchmarks that we want you to improve. It does not matter how low or how high they are. All that matters is your improvement.


That’s about it when it comes to accurately measuring your reading speed. It’s something worth mastering, and it helps readers ramp up their reading capabilities. 

To improve your abilities for a better reading speed score, allocate and respect your reading intervals. We have speed reading courses and a speed reading tool to take advantage of at Iris Reading.

Also, if you’re serious about learning how to calculate your reading speed accurately, we’ve laid out all the information you need to take into account. 

Use the comment section below for any questions or further clarification.

Paul Nowak

Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.

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