Keyboard Skill-Building Speed Vs. Accuracy

By Jimmy Boyd , last updated March 13, 2012
Nowadays, computers are everywhere. The inability to type on a keyboard can cost you a job or make it difficult to keep up with family and friends online. In keyboard skill-building, the two primary skill factors are speed and accuracy. Although you should focus on both of these skills, the relative importance of speed and accuracy depend on your specific goals in using a keyboard for typing.


Software programs that test keyboard typing measure your skill in words per minute. The score is either corrected for accuracy or uncorrected. With corrected scores, some programs reduce the word per minute score by one for each word with an error. Other programs give a simultaneous accuracy rate based on the percentage of words without an error. An uncorrected score does not consider accuracy.

Practice Software

Software programs teach you skills that improve both speed and accuracy. If you are a beginner, programs focus on accuracy to help you learn the position of the keys on the keyboard. Until you learn all the keys, accuracy is your focus. When you can type entire words and sentences without looking at the keys, then speed becomes the focus because you no longer have to fumble around to find the right keys. As you pick up speed, you may notice that when you push yourself, you start to make mistakes even though you know the keys. You may have to slow down or go back and practice individual finger movements to shore up accuracy problems. With practice, you discover the best speed level for your natural ability that also allows you to maintain reasonable accuracy. Along the way, software programs provide timed testing so you can measure your progress in both skill-building areas.


When you take a keyboarding course, you improve in both accuracy and speed. For example, the Dixie State College of Utah Keyboard Skill-building course has a target rate of 40 words per minute with an accuracy rate of at least 90 percent for satisfactory completion of the class. Although anyone can achieve an accuracy rate of 100 percent by correcting mistakes during testing, this may result in an unacceptably low speed count. Thus, you must balance accuracy with speed.

Importance of Speed

Some jobs require a specific minimum typing speed. For example, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires at least 40 words per minute for clerks. Certain typing-related positions require a higher speed. For example, the Venetian Resort requires at least 80 words per minute for executive assistants in corporate finance. However, all kinds of jobs these days require some basic typing skills. Maintaining a decent speed in typing may be necessary to keep from falling behind at work. Even in a casual setting, such as chatting with a friend, speed is still somewhat important because the other person has to wait for you to finish typing to read your responses.

Importance of Accuracy

If you create documents at work, accuracy is vital to maintain professionalism. For example, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's test allows only three errors in five minutes of typing. If you use a computer only to send emails or text messages to loved ones, then accuracy becomes less important because your friends and family don't care if you misspell a few words.
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