"The Average Person’s Reading Speed Is Slower Than Previously Thought"

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“Most Comprehensive Review To Date Finds The Average Person’s Reading Speed Is Slower Than Previously Thought”

Brysbaert searched for all studies measuring reading rates in participants aged between 17 and 60 and in languages that use the Latin alphabet. The exact nature of the studies varied a lot: for example, in some, participants had to read a long passage before answering multiple choice questions about the text, while in others they read single sentences while their eye movements were measured. But Brysbaert included only those studies in which participants read for fun or comprehension, and excluded others that require memorization or other challenges. Altogether, he found 190 suitable studies conducted between 1901 and 2019, collectively involving 17,887 participants.

The average reading rate across all these studies turned out to be just 238 wpm – much slower than the popular 300 wpm estimate. However, there was quite a lot of variability between studies, particularly those that used very short passages, where the slowest rate was just over 100 wpm and the fastest nearly 400 wpm. With longer texts, the rates fell more closely around the average, suggesting that longer reading tasks might be a more reliable measure.

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