Rate of Reading Test


The Rate of Reading Test is designed to measure the effects on reading of visuo-perceptual distortions of text, distortions such as apparent movement of the words and letters, blurring and coloured halos. Patients are required to read text that looks like a passage of prose, but consists of random words. The reading is independent of syntactic and semantic constraints but requires all the usual visual and visuo-perceptual processing.

The Rate of Reading Test is used to compare an individual's performance under one set of visual conditions with that under another. For example, the test might be used to compare the effects on reading with and without coloured overlays. The effects of coloured overlays on reading fluency are reviewed elsewhere.

The test is not a conventional reading test in which the words become progressively more difficult. Such tests usually compare an individual's performance with that of other individuals of similar age, and express the performance in terms of a 'reading age'. In the Rate of Reading Test, reading ability is assessed in terms of rate and errors rather than in terms of the difficulty of the words read. All the words are of very high frequency in the English language and should be familiar to children of age 7 and above, as well as adults.

The individual is required to read the text aloud as rapidly as possible. The reading is timed and errors are noted.

Multiple versions of the test are available so that the reading of equivalent passages can be assessed under different visual conditions.

Performance of the Rate of Reading Test is reliable on retest. Re-test scores can be expected to be within 15% of the first test. Scores are not strongly correlated with age in the range 7yrs-12yrs, even though fast readers can read four times more quickly than slow. Among 7-8 year olds the correlation with the Young's Reading Test is 0.5, and among 11 year olds the correlation with the London Reading Test is 0.4.

There is no evidence that individuals who read faster do so because they tolerate a greater number of errors. In general, the conditions that give rise to errors also give rise to slower reading (Wilkins et al., 1996).

The text of the test is available as MS doc files in English, German, Italian, and Portugese and Arabic.


Wilkins, A.J. , Jeanes, R.J., Pumfrey, P.D. and Laskier, M. (1996). Rate of Reading Test: its reliability, and its validity in the assessment of the effects of coloured overlays. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 16, 491-497.

Jeanes, R., Busby, A., Martin, J., Lewis, E., Stevenson, N., Pointon, D., and Wilkins A.J. (1997). Prolonged use of coloured overlays for classroom reading. British Journal of Psychology, 88, 531-548.

Gilchrist, J.M., Allen, P.M., Monger, L., Srinivasan, K., Wilkins A. (2021) Precision, Reliability and Application of the Wilkins Rate of Reading Test. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. 41(6), 1198-1208.


Administration and scoring

The following instructions on administration concern the test published by ioo Marketing. This has four versions, and the testing can be given with, without, without and again with the overlay, so as to balance the effects of practice.

The effects of practice are now known to be maximal on the first test and minimal thereafter. An alternative procedure, suggested in "Reading through colour" by A. Wilkins (Wiley, 2003) is therefore to present the test initially once, just for practice, without the overlay. Then, once the reader is aquainted with the requirements of the test, and practice effects are negligible, the test can be given once with the overlay and once without. This gives a slightly less reliable assessment because there is only one measurement per condition, but is certainly quicker.

1.The reading test can only be given to patients who can correctly read the words printed in large type. Ask the patient to read aloud all the words printed in large type. If there are errors, correct them, and ask the patient to re-read the words. If the patient continues to make errors, stop the test at this stage.

2. Tell the patient the task is to read a passage with just these words in. (S)he has to read the words aloud as quickly as possible without errors.

3. Choose Version A of the test with the small typeface, unless the patient is unable to read it, or it causes pain.

4. Note the patient's name, date of testing, and the preferred overlay colour on the score sheet.

5. Place the preferred overlay on the text.

6. Start a stopwatch as you instruct the patient to begin.

7. As the patient reads, note each error by marking the score sheet above the word that is misread. Use any marking system that suits you.

8. Stop the patient after 1 minute and mark the score sheet with an oblique line ( / ) to indicate how far (s)he read. If (s)he finishes the passage before the minute is up, then note how many seconds were taken to read the passage.

It is difficult to watch the time and note the errors. Keep the stopwatch where you can see it out of the corner of your eye, or use your smartphone as a timer.

Most of the errors will occur when readers lose their place and skip or repeat words or lines. Other errors will be intrusions that may subsequently be corrected.