Reading Rates

Rates of reading include reading for memorization (under 100 words per minute (wpm)), reading for learning (100–200 wpm), reading for comprehension (200–400 wpm), skimming (400–700 wpm), and scanning (more than 700 wpm). Specifically, normal reading involves the rates of "rauding" (or normal reading), skimming, and scanning which should be understood as having very different purposes and consequences. Reading for comprehension is the most important reading process because it is the essence of most people’s daily reading. Skimming and scanning are sometimes useful for processing larger quantities of text superficially at a much lower level of comprehension (below 50%).

Advice for the appropriate choice of reading rate includes reading flexibly, slowing down when the concepts are closer together or when the material is unfamiliar, and speeding up when the material is familiar and the material is not concept rich. Speed reading courses and books often encourage the reader to continually speed up; comprehension tests lead the reader to believe their comprehension is constantly improving. However, competence in reading involves the understanding that skimming and scanning are dangerous as default habits.