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Ken Ward's Writing Pages


Writing Contents

Page Contents

  1. Readability Software
  2. Formulas
  3. Interpretation
  4. Sentence Length and Syllables per Word

Readability Software

If a piece of writing is clear and cohesive, then a readability test indicates the type of reader who will understand it clearly. Such tests do not normally distinguish between unclear and disorganised writing. For instance:
Red the Monday bit.
has a Flesch-Kincaid Grade level of 0, and a Flesch Reading Ease Level of 100, indicating that more or less any reader can understand it easily. Of course, none can.

Because we are poor at judging our own writing, such tests are useful, but the original text must be clear and cohesive to begin with.

I use the freeware program Flesh, obtainable from here.
It is generally claimed that text should consist of at least 200 words for the tests to be meaningful.


The following formulas are used:

Flesch Reading Scores

The Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are defined as:


The Flesch Reading Ease score is interpreted as follows:
Flesch Reading Ease Score Readability LevelEducation LevelPercentage Adults (Optimistic)
0 - 29 Very difficultCollege Graduates5%
30 - 49 DifficultCollege30%
50 - 59 Fairly difficultSenior High School, A-level50%
60 - 69 Plain English13 to 15 year-olds80%
70 - 79 Fairly easy12 year-olds90%
80 - 89 Easy11 year-olds.
90 - 100 Very easy10 year-olds
We can take the Flesch Reading Ease score to indicate roughly the percentage of the population able to read writing at this level.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level uses USA Grades, which are equivalent to the following British Levels:

British stage British year Old British system Age USA Grade

Year 1 Infants 6 Kindergarten

Year 2 Top Infants 7 1
Key stage 2 Year 3 Bottom Junior 8 2

Year 4 2nd Junior 9 3

Year 5 3rd Junior 10 4

Year 6 Top Junior 11 5
Keystage 3 Year 7 First form 12 6

Year 8 Second form 13 7

Year 9 Third form 14 8
GCSE Year 1 Year 10 Fourth form 15 9
GCSE Year 2 Year 11 Fifth form 16 10
A Levels Year 1 Year 12 Lower Sixth form 17 11
A Levels Year 2 Year 13 Upper Sixth form 18 12
University or College1st Year1913-14
2nd Year2015
3rd Year2116
The University or College rows do not reflect the USA Grade system. They reflect the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

We can add 6 to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, to get an approximate age of the reader who has completed all normal education to that age level. So an age of 17 means that the person has been in full time education to age 17 and has successfully acquired the ability of a student of that age (whatever the person's actual age is).

Sentence Length and Syllables per Word

GradeSyllables/wordAverage Sentence Length
College/University1.8519 (14-23)


PublicationReading Ease

Ken Ward's Writing Pages

The Last Place in Space
- by Ken Ward

When pilot Philip Turner is accidentally transported by an anomaly and marooned on an unknown planet, he discovers the planet is threatened by a group of ruthless aliens similarly marooned. With the help of a group of young women with superpowers, and a powerful being called a god, he reluctantly uses his advanced knowledge and technology to help the planet's inhabitants, but will he succeed when outnumbered by aliens, opposed by greedy and squabbling kings, and limited by his gentle nature and moral beliefs? Paperback and Kindle:
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The Last Place in Space