Reading speed: rate your results

A new test has cheered me up by calculating that I'm quick, but left me wondering what I miss. How do others add up?

Brilliant. Apparently I read 889 words per minute, which makes me 256% faster than the national average. Try it out: this site has been doing the rounds on Twitter, and it is fun, especially if you are competitive about how fast you read (like me).

Obviously, I don't read even nearly that quickly when I'm not trying my hardest. "If you maintained this reading speed, you could read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy in 11 hours and 1 minute," I am told. Well, I think if I maintained that speed, my brain would combust, and I was cheating a bit … but I know I am quite fast, and I did manage to answer their questions on the text correctly. I've just taken it again, and this time I read 939 words per minute, making me 276% faster than the national average. This time, though, the extract was the start of Alice in Wonderland … so it was easy.

Reading fast is both a curse and a blessing. It means that when I get in the zone, I'm hardly aware of the words on the page, I'm just inhabiting the story … until I realise this is what I'm doing, and am jolted out into reality. But it also means, I think, that books slip out of my memory as quickly as they went in, and that I don't spend hours contemplating the beauty of a perfectly crafted sentence.

How about you? Fast or slow reader? And how (she asks, competitively) did you do on the test?

Powered by article was written by Alison Flood, for on Wednesday 12th February 2014 10.19 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Kate Ter Haar