• The chosen book must be unpublished, fictional novel (not a biography) as it is important the competitors could not have any prior knowledge.
  • The book must be in ‘perfect bound’ paperback format. For example, a review copy.
  • The author or publisher should state the number of words in the book.
  • The comprehension text must consist of 20 questions, ideally set by the author.
  • The passages to which these refer should be approximately evenly spaced throughout the book. They must be detailed and require 1-2 sentences to answer (not multiple choice).
  • Model answers and page number where the answer is located should be listed to refer to if necessary when marking.
  • The author should be invited to attend the tournament to assist with marking, present awards and sign books for competitors.


Ideally the room should be spacious with lots of natural light.  If not, the artificial light should cast an even light over all the desks. The room should be completely silent so competitors can concentrate on reading.


  • There should be a large, flat, stable table for each competitor.
  • The table should be big enough so the reader can rest their arms to comfortably hold the book and have space to make notes on A3 paper.
  • All tables should be positioned facing forwards.
  • A clock should be clearly visible or a timer projected or displayed on a video screen.


Supplies of A4 and A3 blank paper should be made available to the competitors for note taking. Although we recommend that water is made available for the competition it is preferred that this be in closed bottles rather than open glasses to prevent accidental spillage. Printed comprehension question papers with space to write several sentence answers under each question. One copy per competitor plus some spares.


During the reading phase the following timing announcements should be made:

“You have one hour remaining”
“You have 15 minutes remaining”
“You have 5 minutes remaining”
“You have 1 minute remaining”


  • A separate quiet room should be set aside for the Arbiters to mark the comprehension papers.
  • Each paper will be marked by one Arbiter and reviewed by the author. (If the author is not present or the number of competitors makes this unfeasible then each paper should be marked by two Arbiters.)
  • A plentiful supply of ‘model answer’ marking schemes and copies of the book to refer to should be made available for the Arbiters.
  • A computer to collate and record all marks should also be provided for the Arbiters’ Room with the final score sheet forwarded to as soon as the scoring is complete for onward media release.


  • Count number of words read (or word count of full book)
  • Convert time to Minutes e.g. 2min 30sec = 2.5min
  • Words/Time = Raw Speed (wpm)
  • Raw Speed x Comprehension% = Effective Speed.


  • A dedicated area for presenting the awards to the winners should be established.  In a smaller competition this may be at the front of the room but in a larger competition an “Award Ceremony” may be more appropriate and prestigious.
  • Facility for Press and other photographs and videos should be made available.
  • Time should be taken to celebrate all of the competitors and not just the winners.