Numerous education researchers have concluded that a key element to success in college is reading speed. The numbers vary a bit, but clocking between 325 to 360 words per minute with about 80% comprehension is the minimum for success. Unfortunately, after several years of teaching, I realized most of today’s college students just didn’t have that sort of speed.
My assignments required–or so I thought–nowhere near the time that I’d spent on reading in my day and still I had complaints about reading overload. Finally, I hazarded a brief reading speed test with my students. It was anonymous and simply for my own curiosity and theirs too. I did this for several semesters and was disappointed but not surprised by the results. While I had the occasional student who hit 500 wpm and a few who barely hit 100, most of my students averaged a dismal 160 words a minute. This certainly explained why so many of them complained about the reading load in college.
Curious about your own reading speed? Here’s a link to a nice little reading speed test.
Source: Staples eReader Department
If you aren’t happy with your results, hit your favorite search engine and look for tips on improving your reading speed. Learning to read faster isn’t all that difficult. As with most skills, it’s just a combination of technique and practice. I’m living proof. The reading instruction I received in my working class junior high school doubled my reading speed in a year.
Sigh. Those were the days.