How to Calculate the Words Per Minute for Reading

If you've ever wondered how quickly you read compared to others, you're not alone. Reading quickly, with a high comprehension rate is a useful skill that will make work, school and pleasure reading more efficient. Reading rates vary between fiction and non-fiction; people typically read fiction more quickly as it is generally more entertaining. Calculate fiction and non-fiction rates the same way, using different reading material.

Figure out how many words are in the passage you're reading before you start. The easiest way to do this is to use a passage on the computer and put it into a program that performs a word count on the selection. If the passage you’re using is not online, you can either count the words yourself, or get a rough estimate by counting the number of words in a line and multiplying by the number of lines in the passage.

Set the timer or stopwatch.

Start reading. Ensure that you’re reading at a normal rate, and that you comprehend the material.

Take the number of words in your selection and divide it by the number of minutes it took you to read them. This number will tell you the number of words you read in a minute. For example, if you read 1,000 words in five minutes, you would perform the following calculation: 1000 / 5 = 200. Therefore, you read at a rate of 200 wpm. If your numbers don't come out evenly, you need to convert the time into seconds for the calculation, and then back into minutes at the end. To do this, you take the number of minutes, multiply it by 60, then add the number of seconds. Then, like before, you divide the number of words you read by the number of seconds. Then you multiply your answer by 60 to get your final wpm count. For example, if you read 994 words in 4 minutes and 33 seconds, your equations would look like this: (4 x 60) + 33 = 273. Then, 994/273 = 3.64. Then, 3.64 x 60 = 218.46. Therefore, you read 218.46 wpm.

  • If you prefer, there are online tools to test your reading rate. See the Resource section.
Items you will need
Reading material
Stopwatch or timer
About the Author

Jillian Hahn is a freelance writer with about two years experience in internet content, business correspondence and training manuals. Hahn's work has been published on and She holds a Liberal Arts Associate's degree.

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