Usually when people realize how many books I read in an average week/month/year, their immediate response is to exclaim: “WOW. You must read really fast.” This remark has always struck me as rather odd because I don’t picture myself as a very fast reader; rather, I’ve always though that the reason I read so much is that I simply spend a lot of time reading. However, recently I watched a video by Ariel Bissett called “Can You Read Faster?” that made me ask myself: How fast do I actually read?
In this video, Ariel embarks on a mini challenge of sorts to increase how many words per minute (wpm) she reads, aided by assorted video tutorials giving tips on how to speed read. Though the prospect of speed reading sounds pretty enticing at times, I’ve always been a bit wary of its impact on how much someone comprehends while reading. Apparently there are ways of improving comprehension levels alongside increasing one’s wpm, which I’m sure involve a great deal of forcing yourself to focus solely on the words on the page rather than thinking of that delicious piece of cake waiting for you at the end of your reading assignment.
Anyways, after watching Ariel’s video I decided to try a little experiment of my own. A quick Google search brought me to dozens of websites dedicated to calculating one’s reading speed. I tried the first three that popped up and ended up with 472, 513, and 507 wpm, which averages out to a solid 497 wpm. This is obviously just a rough estimate, but considering that the average adult reads around 300 wpm and the average college student reads about 450 wpm, I would say this is a fairly accurate result. A little faster than the average college student, but nothing extraordinary.
So, am I a speed reader like people generally seem to assume that I am? My verdict: nope. Again, I think the reason I’m able to read so many books is that I simply spend more time reading on a regular basis than the average person normally would.
Perhaps I’ll try learning how to speed read in the future (summer break?) but for now I’m happy with my current reading speed. I feel like I strike a good balance between reading briskly enough to make quick progress and reading slowly enough to comprehend the maximum amount of information that I can. Still, there’s no denying that speed reading would be an incredibly valuable skill to have, especially as a college English major.
Do you consider yourself a slow, average, or fast reader? Have you ever tried speed reading before? How many wpm do you read? Let me know in the comments section below!