I had a few minutes of fun today checking my reading speed on this site. Probably a not very accurate test, but it does check your understanding of the text you’ve just read, by questioning you on aspects of it at the end of your reading time. I got 100% accuracy each time I tried it, and a very fast reading speed each time. I wanted to average out my speed, but there were only 3 sample texts, and repeating them wouldn’t be very accurate, so I had to settle for the average of the 3 texts: 754 words per minute.That seems to put me above “college professors”, and below “high-scoring college students” (ok – that seems slightly back-to-front, but hey-ho!) on their scale.
The need for speed
Now, although I’m actually generally a very fast reader anyway, I think that years of doing legal research has actually trained me to be a more accurate skim reader. I may not necessarily understand the details of what I get asked to research (I’m not a lawyer, so the esoteric points that they may want to find out more about are quite often entirely new areas for me), but I can usually pick out the relevant material from the content quite quickly. I don’t have time to read everything I’m looking through in-depth, but in the process of skimming, I end up assimilating some basic information about the topic too. It means I can retain or discard materials quickly, and collate only the relevant stuff to pass on to the enquirer. Of course, it also means I can get a response together more quickly than if I had to read every item in full…and everyone is happy when they get a reply to their query fast!
And the best bit? I only have to do the skimming – the really hard bit, when you have to read the whole thing, and interpret how that relates to a specific situation, is down to the enquirer to do. And *that* is why I would never want to be a lawyer – too much thinking involved! 😉
One thought on “The need for speed”
Back when I was an undergrad, I (rather stupidly) bought myself a speed reading book (obviously in the hopes of reading it to improve my speed reading). Humph – so much for that!!!
Ironically, I never read it. It's still sitting on the bookshelf at my parents' house!