Personal Reading Improvement

The Basic Program -

  • Two or three times a day, read something you enjoy for 15 to 20 minutes without stopping. See how much you can read within 30 seconds.
  • Record your reading rate and chart your progress. Recording and charting are essential if you wish to make real progress.

Things to Work On

  1. Speed - Push yourself gently as you read. If your mind wanders, get it back on track.
  2. Vocabulary - Wait until you've finished reading to look up unfamiliar words. (If you stop, you'll reduce your level of comprehension.)
  3. Comprehension - To improve comprehension, recite the chapter after closing the book. See how many specific details you can recall. The more you interact with your text, the more you'll recall. Recollection and comprehension require a vigorous approach.
  4. Practice - Twice a week for an hour, use Speed Reader II at the Academic Skills Center. This excellent computer reading program will boost your rate, eventually resulting in skill transfer. Phone us to reserve a time slot.
  5. Rate Goals - Set reading rate goals for yourself. A 10% increase in your reading rate over the previous record is a good rule of thumb.
  6. Skimming & Scanning - Find an interesting newspaper column or magazine article. Rapidly read the article, sampling just the first sentence or two of each paragraph and a few key words. Jot down all the facts you can remember. Then reread the article slowly, giving yourself a point for every item you can recall.


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Calculating Words Per Minute (WPM)

Example Problem

Using the information below, determine your reading speed (WPM) if you read 14 pages and 15 lines in 10 minutes from Sample Book.

Sample Book's Characteristics

Average number of Words per Page: 237

Total number of Pages: 339

Average number of Lines per Page: 27

Total (approximate) number of Words: 80,343
237 × 339 = 80,343

Total (approximate) number of Words per Line: 8.8


  1. Multiply the number of pages by the number of words per page:

    14 × 237 = 3,318 words

  2. Multiply the number of lines by the number of words per line:

    15 × 8.8 = 132 words

  3. Add the products of steps 1 and 2:

    3,318 + 132 = 3,450 words

  4. Divide the total number of words by the reading time:

    3,450 / 10 = 345 WPM

Your reading speed = 345 WPM


The overall WPM value is affected by round-off error. However, the previous method (above) provides a good approximation of one's reading speed (Words Per Minute).

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Works Cited

Deese, James and Ellin K. Deese. How To Study (3rd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1979.

Johnson, Sue. The 4 T's: Teacher/You, Text, Talk, Test - A Systematic Approach To Learning Success. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Pauk, Walter. How To Study In College (2nd Ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Raygor, Alton L. and David Wark. Systems For Study. New York: McGraw- Hill, Inc, 1970.

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