Average reading speed and memory capacity. Interesting statistics.

1st Graphic — Reading Speed at DEMO

The data presented in this article was gathered using SpeeRead, an expert training system for optimized speed reading. This article purpose is to demonstrate the statistic reality of some statements that you will find in many places about average reading performances. The data gathered from SpeeRead came from sources:

  1. Demo test and questionnaire with 395 valid results, gathered from those users that tested the training platform
  2. Test and questionnaire 1, 2 and 3 with 216 valid results, gathered from those users that started to learn speed reading using one of the training programs

Let’s see first the graphic representation of the results and further we will discuss about them:

  • 1st graphic represents the reading speed distribution from the DEMO results.
  • 2nd graphic represents the memory capacity distribution from DEMO.

On the left side of the graphics you can find the frequencies intervals and how many results belong to each frequency. The graphs are shown to us the shape of each distribution and were are the most of the results placed.
Here is the information I want to highlight.
For the DEMO test (a short text with approximate 200 words) the most of the reading speed results are placed in the following intervals: 150–200 wpm, 200–250 wpm and 250–300 wpm. The most frequent memory capacity is 75% (the memory questionnaire has only 4 questions). The average reading speed calculated for this 395 valid results is 255 wpm. The average memory capacity in this case is 79%. The statements that you will find in many places that are supported by this results sounds like this: The average reading speed is around 250–300 wpm and the average memory capacity is around 70% when you read a text entirely, for the first time and answer some questions from that text.
Let’s see now the results for T1-T3 and Q1-Q3 and than discuss them:

  • 3rd graphic represents the reading speed results distribution from the Test 1, 2 and 3.
  • 4th graphic represents the memory capacity results distribution from Questionnaire 1, 2 and 3.

This results are gathered BEFORE starting the training program by the users. So, they have the same statistical value like the DEMO results. 216 results were found valid. The most of the results for reading speed are in the following intervals: 200–250 wpm, 250–300 wpm and 300–350 wpm. The most of the results for memory capacity are in the interval of 70–80%. The texts used here are longer then for DEMO (1000–1500 words) and each questionnaire has 10 questions. The average reading speed in this case is 303 wpm and the average memory capacity is 72%. This results show us that the statements we made for average reading speed and memory capacity for DEMO results are true also T1-T3 and Q1-Q3 results.
There are also some small differences between this two sources of the results.
The maximum density interval for reading speed are different and the average result is near 250 wpm for DEMO and near 300 wpm for T1-T3. This can be an explanation for the fact that people who read faster have much motivation to continuously increase their reading performances. In other words increasing your reading speed leads you to higher motivation for reading.
For memory capacity we can see more precise estimated results for Q1-Q3 comparing to DEMO. Explanation can be related to the number of questions for each type of questionnaire. A 10 questions questionnaire is more precise than a 4 question one and it gives us more accurate results.

Psychologist, MSc.

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