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.
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
Percentage Adults (Optimistic)
0 - 29
30 - 49
50 - 59
Senior High School, A-level
60 - 69
13 to 15 year-olds
70 - 79
80 - 89
90 - 100
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:
Old British system
Key stage 2
GCSE Year 1
GCSE Year 2
A Levels Year 1
Lower Sixth form
A Levels Year 2
Upper Sixth form
University or College
The University or College rows do not reflect the USA Grade system. They reflect the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
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).
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