WPM: Words Per Minute
CPM: Characters Per Minute
WPM is actually an approximation, taken by dividing the CPM by some number which is supposed to simulate actual word composition of the piece being tested. If you suspect someone over-inflating their typing ability - ask what CPM they can do, and if they are a fraud they will not have an answer.
Typing tests frequently emphasize WPM, CPM, accuracy (i.e. number of characters or words mistaken), difficulty of the piece being tested, and time. There is a non-trivial difference in results based on what kind of text is being typed - the Berenstein Bears vs. Dante's Inferno, for example.
There are numerous resources online and offline for testing your typing ability, and more importantly improving it. If you are a hunt and pecker it would probably greatly behoove you to learn touch typing if you spend any amount of time with a command line. Some places to start would be google, selftestonline.com, and typingtest.com. The latter two offer free "demo" tests - there "professional" tests being an offered service for companies that want to certify typists without the hassle of on-site testing.
I started at about 40 WPM as a non-touch-typist. Taking a class in junior high raised me to over 80 WPM, and working in IT since then has carried me up to ~120 WPM. The only downside is now everyone expects me to take meeting minutes!
Here is a sample of a test I took last week:
- Test Duration: 5.00 minutes
- Uncorrected WPM: 124 words per minute
- Uncorrected CPM: 618 characters per minute
- Percentage accuracy: 99%
- Average corrected WPM: 123 words per minute
To analyze this a bit, you can see that they are using a division value of 5 to get from CPM to WPM. 5 tends to be an "industry" standard, but it can vary... I've seen 4-6 as a typical range. Also note that these are all averages -most people can type chord words faster, that is words with letters that are physically close on a keyboard in close succession. Conversely words that are separated across the keyboard in different locations take longer... so there is an ebb and flow in touch typing, and that is smoothed out by averaging it.