Should we care about words per minutes? 4 Speed Reading Tests
One activity most courses will ask you to do is to test your current reading speed. Doing those tests can be a hassle; at least I didn’t like them. After running such a test a few years ago (see suggestions below), I knew I was only an average reader with average comprehension and average bad reading habits.
Since then I certainly have tested my performance at various occasions seeing good improvements, but compared to earlier times I don’t actually mind the numbers anymore. Trust in my reading skills is more important than words per minute. So, is a speed reading test actually worth its time? Which tests are actually useful?
Speed Reading Test – Benefits
Good Start – Running a test to determine how fast you read is definitely a good starting point to increase your overall reading performance. You will know how many words you read per minute and how much information you could gather at this speed.
Type of Reader – Reading tests will allow you to classify what type of reader you are, whether you are a slow, average or good reader, or what your retention level is. Being labeled as slow or average can be frustrating, though most readers are average ones by the way, achieving speeds of roughly about 250-300 words per minute for a casual non-fiction material.
These ranges will drop significantly once your deal with more complex content, so it’s important to not compare apples and oranges here. However, the benefit is that you will know where you are and which areas to improve on. Cold water.
What’s the twist? – Anyway, at this stage the twist might start. It’s too easy to keep focusing on numbers and speed rates, and ignore intuition. I therefore wouldn’t take speed reading tests too seriously. Testing may be good for evaluation, but it’s less important for improving reading skills. Trust in your abilities is.
The word speed is in my option a bit misleading. Certainly, to read faster is a priority goal, but so is a high comprehension. Block out the word ‘speed’ of common phrases to see what’s left; e.g. ‘reading strategies’ or ‘reading techniques’. Speed automatically comes by mastering those techniques, e.g. previewing, hand pacing or word group reading. Practice and apply them daily and you will soon gain confidence in them.
Take it easy – As briefly mentioned above speed reading tests only provide information on average speed ranges, hence its results don’t apply to all kind of texts. I read entertaining content much faster than a text having a more scientific based background. Latter one can slow you down to as little as 150 words per minute to maintain a good comprehension.
Though reading speeds of 1000 words per minute might be achievable, it just a number you would be willing to hunt for. Just numbers! A way more interesting skill would be learning to visualize material, which will also increase your speed performance. Once you’ve mastered this skill, words per minute or reading tests aren’t important anymore. You simply know that you read fast and retain the content.
Keep in mind – Keep in mind that online tests may deliver slower results than testing with books or prints. Hand pacing, reading chunks of words or previewing methods simply work less efficient here. Using books or print outs allow you to use tactile senses too. It’s easier to flip through a book or use your fingers to adjust your focus stops.
4 Speed Reading Tests – Online Apps
So, what are popular tests that give you enough value and information? If you search the term online you will find a myriad of tests. Some of them are very simple, some include comprehension tests and additional settings such as font-size or different levels of complexity in regards to the material. I found the following four reading tests to be useful. Feel free to suggest other ones in the comments below.
1. WallStreetJournal Reading Test
The WSJ online speed reading test (run test) lets you evaluate and improve your reading speed. It’s clean, modern and user friendly. However, there aren’t many settings to customize the test.
On the main page, click the Play button to start the test and follow instructions. You will be asked to read a text passage. Once you have finished reading and stopped the test you will be forwarded to a result page that displays your reading score.
The app also includes a comprehension test in form of multiple choice questions. Read the questions on the quiz page and answer them. Once finished you will know your overall reading and quiz score.
The WSJ test offers speed reading tips to teach users more about the topic and to improve your test score. Three-speed tips will be displayed on the screen. Each tip will direct you to a separate page with more information. One cool feature is that you can restart a new round of testing from any of these pages using the tips.
You will need to read a text passage again, and once you have finished it you can see the reading score of your first attempt and — for example — using the subvocalize tip (second attempt). Answer the quiz afterwards to get an updated reading score test result showing all attempts.
This speed reading test (run test) lets you create your own, personalized comprehension passage. On the test page you will find three categories to set various options: Theme, Text Complexity and Story. Choose any you like to adjust the test to your needs, then hit the Begin button.
The ‘Theme’ category includes topics ranging from American history, earth and space science, famous people or fun facts. The ‘Text Complexity Level’ allows you to lower or raise the text complexity ranging from 01 to 13. Within each category you can also choose from different stories to get some variations.
After reading, proceed to the comprehension quiz and answer all the questions. You can use the ‘Cancel’ button to go back to the previous page if you wish to reset any test options. Once done, click on the ‘View Result’ button and check your reading speed and comprehension.
3. Staples Reading Test
A great feature of the Staples reading test (run test) is that you can compare your own results/speed with the national average. Before your start try to notice the little setting wheel in the top right corner which lets you change/adjust basic test options and preferences.
When ready click on the ‘Start Reading’ button. Read the full text passage at your usual pace, try not to skim it. Click on the Finish button. The screen will direct you to a quick test page. Press on ‘Go To Result’ to view your quiz score. You will see your current reading speed (words per minute) and your position compared on a national average level. Below is also a cool infographic explaining words per minute and respective grades.
Another great gimmick is the total reading time (in hours and minutes) you would actually take to complete various classic books such as War and Peace, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or The Lord of the Rings at your current reading pace.
Wanna challenge your friends? On the last page you will also find sharing buttons for the major social networks. This is probably the best speed reading test when it comes to having fun. It also takes away the pressure.
At myreadspeed.com (run test) you can do both take a test and read some of the best classic books absolutely free. To take the test, click on the green ‘Calculate Your Reading Speed’ tab. Select any of the ten classic books from the drop down menu. Customize font and line spacing to match your comfort level. Then click on the ‘Start Recording’ tab.
Read the full text at your normal reading speed. Your reading speed will be calculated in words per minute. Similar to Staples, the total days to read each of the classic books will be displayed too.
As said previously, you can also choose from a range of classic books to receive and read them at no extra cost. All you need to do is choose the book, select the time, days and how long you would like to read it. You will get to read the book in installments based on your chosen time and days. Not sure if that’s suitable enough, but it’s certainly worth a try.
Does a Speed Reading Test Make Sense? – Verdict
I personally think testing really depends on each personality. Some people like tests in order to know where they stand, others passionately dislike them. There are, however, quite a few benefits to run a test at least once or twice as it will show you what words per minute actually mean and what the correlation between speed and comprehension is.
The four speed reading tests I have introduced above offer interesting customization options, tips or useful stats. Choose any of them and let me know what you think of them.