How fast of a typist are you? In our modern age of digital computing, being able to type quickly can make your work easier in a number of careers and not just the ones you would assume, like being a journalist or a computer programmer. A fast typing speed would also benefit teachers, doctors and business people, all of whom need to input information on a daily basis while still keeping up with the rapid pace of their jobs.

How Is Average Typing Speed Measured?

One of the easiest ways to calculate your typing speed is to take a typing test online. Online typing tests will calculate your average typing speed in words per minute, or WPM. Some tests refer to words a minute, or WAM, but WPM and WAM both measure the same thing: the number of words you have typed correctly in a minute.

An alternative average typing speed measurement is gross words a minute, or GWAM, also referred to as gross words per minute, or GWPM. GWAM measures your overall typing speed without the subtraction of mistyped words. Measuring typing speed in GWAM is more lenient, so GWAM is sometimes used as a measurement for people just learning how to type. However, it is important to note that learning how to type quickly and accurately is important, especially if you're in a career that requires answering a lot of emails or writing quickly on a deadline.

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How Do You Calculate GWAM and WAM?

If you don’t want to take an online typing test, you can calculate your WAM score on your own. All you need is a computer or typewriter, a source text to copy and a timer. You may want to ask a friend or coworker to time you instead. This will prevent you from having to switch tasks from timing to typing, and you won’t have to watch the clock, thus improving the accuracy of your score.

Choose a common source text that is easy for you to read, preferably one that doesn’t have any words over which you would stumble. "Aesop’s Fables," Edgar Allen Poe stories or Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are all good options that are available on the internet.

After you choose your story, start your timer and begin typing the story as quickly as possible while maintaining accuracy. Type for 3 to 5 minutes and then stop. Count the number of words you typed and then divide that number by the number of minutes you typed. This will give you your GWAM. For example, if you typed 300 words in 3 minutes, your typing speed would be 100 GWAM.

To calculate WAM, subtract any words with errors from your overall word count and then divide your word count by the number of minutes you typed. If you made copious typing errors, your WAM would be lower than your GWAM.

What Is a Good WAM Score?

Sean Wrona is one of the fastest typists in the world. His typing speed tops out at 256 WAM, but don’t worry. You won’t have to face Wrona head-to-head to get a job. Some jobs that require quick typing skills, like being a personal assistant, may list 60 WAM as a qualification to apply. Other jobs that emphasize word processing or numerical input may require typing speeds of up to 90 WAM.

How to Beat a Typing Test

If you wanted to become a faster runner, you would have to practice. Learning to type faster requires the same kind of diligence. Luckily, you won’t have to go to typing boot camp to pick up the pace. Invest in a computer game or make a habit of doing typing training online. Making goals and practicing a little every day until you meet them will put you on the path to beating your typing test.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.