A reader's average reading speed per minute depends on the age, education level and the fluency level of the individual. Fluency refers to the ability of an individual to read quickly and to accurately comprehend written materials.

Reading Development

If a student starts reading early, her average reading speed per minute will increase with age.
If a student starts reading early, her average reading speed per minute will increase with age.

If a student begins learning to read in early childhood, her average reading speed per minute increases with age as the student develops fluency. Reading comprehension is an important factor in reading speed because an individual must read quickly enough to move smoothly through the material, yet maintain the ability to understand and remember what he is reading.

Expert Insight

Average reading speed increases throughout childhood.
Average reading speed increases throughout childhood.

Average reading speed increases throughout childhood and adolescence. LD Online quotes Ronald P. Carver, who states that the average reading speed of a third grader is 135 words per minute, which increases to 177 words per minute in the sixth grade. A ninth grader reads at 219 words per minute, which increases to 261 words per minute in twelfth grade.

Average Adult Reading Speed

An adult's reading speed is influenced by their level of education and frequency of reading.
An adult's reading speed is influenced by their level of education and frequency of reading.

The average adult's reading speed is influenced by the level of education of the reader and the frequency of reading. According to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, college students read at a rate of 300 words per minute, while adults as a whole read at an average rate of about 250 words per minute. Interventions are available for readers at any age who need assistance in improving reading speed and fluency.