Free Reading Speed and Comprehension Test

Do your students do well on the reading comprehension section of standardized tests? Practicing for these kind of exams and getting accustomed to the format and the type of questions asked can help boost scores. Here’s a website that offers a free Speed Reading Test. I suggest having students use it once a week or so, and see how quickly they can boost their reading speed.

I’ve always been a fast reader, and I enjoy the challenge of speed tests, so I gave the site a test run. There are short tests in several content categories that offer a look at both speed and comprehension. I took several tests from different levels, and discovered that for me, content makes a huge difference in score. My speed and comprehension scores were much better on the questions with history content than on the general questions.

How valid are these tests and scores? I believe they are moderately useful in giving students objective feedback on how many words per minute they can read. They are less useful in determining actual comprehension, because they test memory of facts, rather than actual understanding of the passage. I could easily answer the questions related to people, places, and things, but I was much less likely to correctly remember those that had to be answered with numbers. This isn’t because I didn’t comprehend the time, place, distance, or whatever, but because I process information visually and verbally, and numbers have to be connected to something visual or verbal before I can recall them.

Once you’ve established a benchmark reading speed, how can you improve it?

  • Read more books (Online reading does not improve speed– it encourages jumping around and lack of focus.)
  • Read in quiet places (Caveat: Students who have learning challenges may actually benefit from studying to a particular kind of music–do the same test with or without music, and find out.)
  • Focus while you read

Reading fast and reading well are not always the same thing, but it’s important to know how to read quickly and accurately for when you need to take in a great deal of information in a limited amount of time. We’ll talk about how to read slowly and analytically another time– it’s a skill that’s equally important, and there are things you can learn to make the most of your precious reading time.



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