Typing test with a 5 wpm penalty for each error? Is that reasonable?

I’m trying to get a promotion at work. We’re talking about a basic secretarial/clerical kind of position–you know, a typical office grunt. I need to pass a typing test to get the job. The minimum speed required is 50 words per minute.

I’ve taken the test twice in the past six weeks. My best score was 49 words per minute.

But wait. My best speed was 64 words per minute with three errors in a two minute test. The problem is that I was penalized ** five words per minute ** for each error.

Okay, before last month, I hadn’t taken a typing test since 1997when the penalty was only one word per minute per error, so maybe standards have changed a lot. But could they have changed that much??!?

I feel very angry and frustrated right now, and I don’t know if it’s reasonable for me to feel this way or if I’m just being a sore loser.

So I want some feedback from anybody out there who’s familiar with speed and accuracy standards for typng these days. If anybody out there is a typing instructor, I’d especially like to hear from them. Is this pretty much the standard these days? Or is this employer making unreasonable demands?

Wish I had a definitive answer for you, but I do know that last time I took a typing test (15 years ago, maybe?) I was disproportionately penalized for errors. It struck me as unfair at the time, for the same reasons you mention.

Well, sounds fair to me. It would take me approximatley “5 words worth of time” to double back and correct the error.

Yeah, it sounds fair enough to me. Maybe a little on the harsh side, but perhaps they’re concerned about excess wear on the “Backspace” key.

I would think that a better test would simply give you a passage of text to transcribe, and measure how long it takes you to transcribe the whole thing without errors. That way, if you can correct your errors faster than most people, you won’t be penalized as much for them.

As a bit of unsolicited advice, I think next time you might want to slow down, counterintuitive as that may seem. If your skill is sufficient to make 64 wpm uncorrected, you’ve got almost a 25% leeway on the speed – you might try spending a little of that to reduce errors.

Yes, that penalty seems large, but it probably just means that they value accuracy over raw speed. 50 wpm isn’t tremendously fast, so what they’re really saying is “we require highly accurate typists with a modicum of speed.”

It’s been used for ages – it was part of a typing test I took back in 1989. Arbitrary, perhaps, but everyone who’s officially credited at 50+ wpm has managed to overcome it.

Removing it will affect all those who took tests previously. In addition, they’d probably just raise the threshold from 50 wpm to 65 wpm to compensate.

Expectations have gone up, but the difficulty of typing up to 50 wpm has gone way down. Keyboard typing is much faster and more efficient than typewriter typing. If I try typing on any kind of typewriter, it usually jams up because I type too fast.

A proficient typist usually knows when they’ve made an error, even before they look at the screen. A proficient typist can correct that error quickly, however, the time that elapses between realization of the error, backspacing, correcting it and regaining your typing rhythm is probably equivalent to the time it would take to type about 5 words, hence the penalty for an uncorrected error.

Generally, typists have become much more complacent about making errors because they are now so easy to correct. About the only time accuracy comes into play is when you’re taking a test. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for it because ultimately, it does make your job a lot easier.

I’m a word processor, hence I type for a living, but on the rare occasion I have been in the job market and knowing I’d have to take a typing speed test, I have always practiced for a couple days with a typing tutor/game program. You’d be surprised how much that improves your speed, accuracy and concentration.

You rarely type at work like you do for a speed test (sustained text typing without pause or interruption) and no matter how good a typist you are or how often you’re required to type, your speed will suffer without practice.

Slowing down a bit will definitely help your accuracy. What you have to do is establish a comfortable rhythm for your typing. Too slow and you won’t be able to maintain your rhythm; too fast and you’ll make mistakes. A typing program helps you accomplish both.

Really, I think the issue is that errors are really dangerous – they can be very hard to catch and can reflect poorly upon the sender. I don’t think it’s so much an issue of how long it takes you to go back and fix the error, since in the wild you don’t necessarily have an answer key. They’d probably just prefer that it’s done correctly the fitst time, to reduce the possiblities of something slipping through.

Yeah I know that these days, spell-checkers somewhat invalidates this argument but there are still many applications that don’t use one, or many errors that are still dictionary words (they’re, their, there, etc.).

It’s quite amazing at my work how many mistakes I spot in other people’s writing, even though we’re all using MS Word and MS Outlook with spell-checking. I suppose for a lot of internal communication, people just can’t be bothered to get it right.

Incidently, I’ve already spotted 3 typo/grammatical errors in my post above. :smack:

(sigh) Okay, I’m being a sore loser. Damn, I hate reality. Thanks for the advice, guys, I will definitely make serious efforts to improve my accuracy before taking the test again.

Seventeen years is “ages”? Lordy, I’m getting old. :slight_smile:

“Incidently”? :dubious:

Took a typing class in HS, about 35 years ago. The penalty for errors in that class was 5 wpm. Just one more data point.

I’m probably older than you are, sonny. :slight_smile: It was also the rule when I took typing in High School, 36 years ago.

It’s a two-minute test - a 5 wpm penalty for each error is equivalent to ten words’ worth.

If I ask a clerical person to type something up for me, I don’t really care if it takes 5 minutes or 10 minutes, but I do care that there are no errors. But this is something I haven’t done in the last 20 years or so, and I’m surprised that typing tests, measured in words per minute, have survived.

If you can’t type 50 wpm I think you are probably executive material. CEOs hardly ever have to take typing tests. Maybe you ought to be thinking in that direction.

I took one typing test for a temp firm that had disabled the arrow, insert, and delete keys. They claimed that it was unrealistic for a good typist to have to correct errors on the fly :rolleyes:

Interestingly, running notepad was accessible through the Window-R shortcut. So I typed in notepad, and pasted my typing into the typing test window :smiley:

When my office went from IBM Selectric typewriters (many years ago) to first-generation word processors, our office manager timed out at 80 wpm (no mistakes) on the IBM and, with no instruction, jumped to 130 wpm (no mistakes) on the Displaywriter.

I teach keyboarding classes, and we do emphasize the importance of keeping errors to a minimum vs. keying text as quickly as possible. While speed is important, it is generally more important to have as few errors as possible.

I think that the main reason for this is that errors can cost money to the company, if only by presenting a bad image to anyone receiving the document with the errors. Some errors can even present erroneous information, that could completely change the meaning of the message.

In addition, in the long run, it does take more time to find and correct errors than it does to key things a little more slowly to avoid errors.

At the same time, though, I think that it is important to keep the distinction clear between “word processors” and “typewriters.” Modern word processors have spell check features that help you identify some errors more quickly, as well as features that will automatically correct spelling as you go. The auto-correct features will actually allow you to add your own MFM (Most Frequently Misspelled) words, so that they are corrected automatically, or so that you can simply type in two or three characters instead of the 12-15 characters that you have to type over and over again, and never get right the first time.

Using a standard speed test, I can key between 50-60 words a minute with no errors. Using Word installed on my own computer, with my own foibles identified, I probably key more than 70 wpm, with no uncorrected errors.

In modern times, though, I do not agree with programs that prohibit you from using Backspace or Delete as you key. As someone else pointed out, a good typist will recognize the error immediately, and correct the error on the spot, which is definitely faster than typing everything out and proofreading later. We are long past the days of “what you type is what you see,” and modern testing equipment should recognize that fact. The keyboarding tests we use in my class does indicate if the student used the Backspace key at all, but I really don’t care if they do, as long as there are no errors in the finished product.

Wow, it’s late in the day, but that just managed to come in as the dumbest thing I’ve heard today.

I mean, why would someone care about how you arrived at the final product rather than the final product itself? This isn’t a math test.