Lovett, B. J., Lewandowski, L. J., & Potts, H. E. (2017). Test-taking speed: Predictors and implications . Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment , 35 (4), 351–360.

Journal Article

Lovett, B. J., Lewandowski, L. J., & Potts, H. E. (2017). Test-taking speed: Predictors and implications. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 35(4), 351–360.


Attention problem; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Extended time; Intelligence test; No disability; Postsecondary; Reading; Student survey; U.S. context




Both postsecondary students with and without disabilities reported on factors associated with test-taking speed, in order to inform decision making about providing extended time for course examinations.


Postsecondary students, all undergraduates (n=253), from either a medium-sized public college or a large private university in northeastern states (U.S.), participated. Demographic information was reported, such as age (mean=19, mostly 18 or 19), gender, and ethnicity: 75% White, 9% Asian descent, 8% Hispanic/Latino, and 8% Black. About 24% reported having a disability, mostly attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or mental health condition such as anxiety or depression; 4% indicated being eligible for disability-related accommodations.

Dependent Variable

Several performance measures were administered, along with a student survey on demographics and perceptions. The Nelson Denny Reading Test (NDRT; Brown et al., 1993) Form G, presented without time limit, measured participants' reading comprehension scores for seven reading passages with 38 selected-response (multiple-choice) items. The NDRT was described as having a similar format to reading comprehension sections of the SAT and GRE, and was intended by the researchers to serve as "a proxy for a timed academic test (as in a teacher-made or high-stakes test), as most academic tests require reading comprehension to access the items" (p. 354). Both one-minute reading rates and completion times for the NDRT were also collected. Processing Speed Index was measured using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV; Wechsler, 2008) subtests on digit-symbol coding and symbol search. Reading fluency was collected using a subtest from the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement, Third Edition (WJ-III; Woodcock et al., 2001) was used to assess reading fluency. The Self-Evaluation of Performance on Timed Academic Reading (SEPTAR; Kleinmann, 2005), a nine-item student survey, gathered students' perceptions of their skills, with higher scores indicating more difficulties with timed comprehension-based tests.


Completion times for the reading comprehension task, on the untimed NDRT, exceeded the typically-provided 20 minutes for about 20% of all participants; most participants who did not complete the NDRT within 20 minutes reported not being identified with disabilities. Students' reading speeds were not related to their reading comprehension scores on the NDRT. Processing speeds from the WAIS-IV were found not to predict comprehension task performance; in addition, processing speed did not offer separate or additional information from either reading speeds or students' self-perceptions of their reading speeds, according to a multiple regression analysis. Postsecondary participants, both with and without disabilities, seemed to have accurate perceptions of their skills as measured by the SEPTAR, with significant connections to reading times, processing speed (WAIS-IV), and reading fluency (WJ-III), and reading comprehension (NDRT). The researchers concluded that time-limited performance measures—such as the typical administration of the NDRT, or by implication, academic course exams given under similar conditions—did not relate to untimed performance.