On Reading Speeds

Sometimes I feel like I’m a damn slow reader. Growing up and all throughout school, I always thought I was a pretty fast reader. Whenever we were given independent reading assignments, I was always one of the first to move on to answering questions (of course, some students might have just been lazy).

Lately, I’ve been conscious of the fact that some novels seem to drag along, and a page can easily feel like a lifetime. Other novels seem to make reading a lot easier, either due to the writing style or because of my own interest.  Curious about this, I wanted to put myself to the test.

I took two different tests. One before sleeping last night and one just now (with some background distractions.  These were my results from last night (Test taken on Reading Soft Speed Test) :

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 3.51.56 AM
333 WPM with 91% accuracy.


Now, that’s not too bad. My accuracy is well above average, but my speed is, at best, average, though the ranges vary widely by source. This afternoon, my score improved, albeit only slightly. (Staples Speed Test)

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 6.03.12 PM
Apparently just a high school junior.

Again, in the range of average (based on this chart), roughly, but the more pressing question to me is whether or not reading speed matters. Personally, I don’t think it does. Sure, speed readers can blow through a novel in an hour or two, but if there’s only 50% comprehension, what’s the point? You’re missing out on a hell of a lot of the story, prose, and linguistic acrobatics that writers perform. It’s more like eye exercise than pleasure at that point.  Unless you’re Harold Bloom, who could read 1,000 pages per hour in his prime with strong comprehension, it’s just rather pointless to speed read a novel.  Is it more important to take your time and enjoy the story? To me, the answer is a resounding yes. I make a pretty big distinction between reading for pleasure and reading for work or school (where I’m much more likely to skim or read quickly). Of course, a more complex work is going to take more time to read than something more simplistic in nature.

How did you score?  Is reading speed something you’re conscious of?




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