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What is an Average, Really?

What’s your typing speed?  Okay, you got a number in mind?  Now, how did you decide on that number?

Is it your personal best on a typing test?  Is it your TypeRacer average, which averages your last ten races?  Is it your lifetime average on 10FastFingers?

It’s interesting how we have a natural tendency to omit from our memory the slower results we achieve, because we know we can type faster, and it’s easy to chalk up those slow results to difficult passages, typos, or “not being on our game.”  We tend to remember ourselves at our best.

As you can see, there is a certain difficulty in defining the metric of how fast one types.  Without a fully standardized testing procedure, there can be quite a range of results. As speed typists, tracking this metric matters, and defining it gets even more nuanced.

I’ve tried a lot of typing tests out there, but I enjoy typing the most on 10FastFingers and TypeRacer.

10FastFingers has, in my opinion, the simplest and best typing speed test.  It uses simple words, no punctuation, almost no capitals, and displays simple lines of text that show you just enough text at once, and scroll only when you’re done with each line.  I like that it penalizes you for typos in your final speed, but doesn’t make you fix them during the test if you don’t want to.  This way, it avoids jarring stops, but is still fair in rewarding accuracy and penalizing inaccuracy.  For measuring speed, this site gives the most precision due to its consistency and repeatability.

TypeRacer is a different animal altogether.  Here, you’ve got capitals, punctuation, proper nouns, numbers, varying race lengths, and you’re not allowed to continue with the text if you have typos.  Typing here feels different than on 10FF, in no small part due to racing against other people in real-time.  The thrill of seeing your little car move in those stuttery steps alongside other little cars is something that has to be experienced.

If 10FF is running on your treadmill at home to train your speed and endurance, TypeRacer is running on a track, jumping over hurdles (that Shift key), and maneuvering through a mini obstacle course.

I like both sites for what they offer, and both have their place in a speed typist’s repertoire.  I spend most of my time on 10FF because it offers that pure typing experience, and allows me to focus on practicing technique and speed.  Then, when I want a change of pace, TypeRacer gives me a place to take what I’ve practiced into a competitive environment.

With that said, what WPM rating do I like to use?  For ease of standardization, I think it’s easiest to say your WPM is the 10FF score you can achieve the majority (let’s say 75%) of the time.  For me, that’s 150 wpm (with a PR of 166), which is up about 20 wpm since I started practicing on 10FF a couple months ago, back when I first started really thinking about the mechanics of speed typing.


So!  We’re three posts in now, and we’ve covered the fundamentals of speed typing.  The importance of accuracy, the why and how of good technique, and this post about WPM and typing test sites (which has gotten much longer than I expected).  

In upcoming posts, we’ll be getting into the fun stuff for touch typists — practical tips, advanced theory, mentality training, keyboard hardware, and more!

Exciting stuff to come.  😀

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