How Fast Can You Read?

Staples has created a pretty nifty online test where you can compare your reading speed to the national average. The test times you while you read a few passages, then asks you some questions to gauge your comprehension level.

I scored 993 words per minute, which made me almost three times faster than the national average. But that's still much slower than most speed readers who can read at about 1,500 words per minute at 50% comprehension (the world speed reading champion, Anne Jones, can read at an astounding 4,700 words per minute at 67% comprehension).

The site told me that if I maintained this reading speed, I could read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy in a mere 9 hours and 51 minutes and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien in 8 hours and 2 minutes.

How fast can you read? Take the test.


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When my mom was in grade school (she is 55 now, you do the math;-) speed reading was the thing of the future, and, for that reason, was included as a standard part of her learning. Now, because it is so ingrained, she can't NOT speed read; she would have to completely retrain to read slower.

My own reading speed is average.
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I'm afraid my score will suffer from the odd habits I've picked up as a blogger. If I am reading something to see if it is worth posting here, then I skim the first sentence of each paragraph only. I'm in a hurry to get to the point. Then if it is good enough to use, I go back and find the relevant facts.

If I am reading for pleasure (meaning something I want to read but know I can't use so I am in hurry), I use the first few paragraphs to judge the writer's style, so I can figure out how many sentences I can skip along the way while reading the rest of it.

Those are horrible habits, but time management is crucial in this business.
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I know this is only a bit of fun, but only a couple of paragraphs of text and only 3 questions makes for a pretty bad test! I took it three times (the fourth time I got the first text again so I assume there are only 3) and got scores ranging from 1000 to 1450 words per minute and 100% on the questions. I'm a fast reader (not a speed reader) but there is no way on Earth I'm that fast in reality! (Plus reading a novel at that speed would be just horrible!)
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I took a speed reading class in college. Two tips from there:
1. Take the test and then immediately attempt to double your speed. Most people lose only 10% comprehension at double speed.
2. Crib the night before on tomorrow's subject matter. I once got infinite speed by not reading and getting 67% on the test.
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