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Can You Read Faster Than The Average Person? A Free Test by the Wall Street Journal

From the newspaper to financial statements, reports and even scientific journals, we're reading thousands and thousands of words per day - both on the screen as well as on paper. But have you ever wondered how fast you're reading and how your reading speed compares with everyone else?

It's something that's been on our minds ever since the mid 90s when they had those speed-reading infomercials on the TV but we never got around to testing it. Well, now the Wall Street Journal has come up with a free and easy online speed reading test that not only tests reading speed, but comprehension as well. No more excuses for us.

Why Bother With The Test?

There are two main reasons why you might want to do the test. Firstly, it's a quick (under 5 minutes)  gauge of how your reading speed stacks up against the average reader. If you're the competitive sort, it can be fun to compare your scores with that of your friends. Secondly and more importantly, you're going to be reading a lot in college and at work and this test provides you with your base number, which you can then improve with speed reading techniques if you're interested.

How The Test Works

You’ll be given an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article to read once you press the play button, which also starts the timer. Once you've finished reading the article, hit the stop button. You will then then take a short quiz to test your comprehension based on the article you just read. After which, both your reading speed and comprehension scores will be presented to you, along with some speed-reading tips. Once you’ve taken this first quiz, try again using some recommended speed-reading tips and see if your score changes.

The Results

On our first attempt, we got a score of around 400 words per minute and 3/3 questions correct. On our second attempt, incorporating one of the suggested speed reading techniques, we managed to bump our score up to 575 words per minute - an almost 44% increase but our comprehension dropped to 2/3. The holy grail of course, is to improve your reading speed while maintaining 100% comprehension.

How You Can Read Faster And Retain Comprehension

At the end of the test, the Wall Street Journal presents three tips that you can use to improve your reading speed. The first is to not subvocalize, or read aloud in your head. Secondly, follow the words as you're reading with your finger or mouse cursor, so that you don't lose track of where you are. And lastly, expand your scope of reading by for example, focusing on every third word instead of the next word.

Now there are skeptics, such as this lifehacker article, as to whether speed-reading actually works or if it's just one big con. While we are a little doubtful about claims of reading speeds of 10,000 words per minute, we tried not subvocalizing and followed the words with our finger and were able to get a speed of 740+ words per minute while getting 2 out of 3 comprehension questions right.

As we mentioned in our Essential Excel Hotkeys article, picking up new techniques involves practice as well as an open mind to try out something can be a little uncomfortable at first. But once you get the hang of it and see the improvement, you'll wonder how you ever did with out it in the first place. We think the same applies to speed-reading.

Just imagine - going from the average reading speed of 250 words per minute to 500 words per minute means you can read twice the number of books in the same time! These 3 tips just scratch the surface and if you're interested in find out more, there are numerous books as well as courses on the subject that you can explore.

You can take the test here and stay tuned for more interesting sites from around the web!      


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