Flesch Kincaid Grade Level Readability

Introduction

Out of the many readability tests that you can use, the most trusted and most used is the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level. It is actually a modified formula of another noted readability test, the Flesch Reading Ease.

The Flesch Kincaid Grade Level is the improved formula developed by John P. Kincaid in the late 1970s. He used the readability formula made by Rudolph Flesch during the 1940s and modified it for the US Navy. Fishburne, Rogers, and Chissom aided Kincaid.

The reason for the modification is because the Flesch Reading Ease results aren’t immediately meaningful and requires a conversion table to understand it. So it was modified by the US Navy to quickly determine whether or not their technical manuals are easy to understand. The Flesh Kincaid Grade Level is best used for educational texts.

Flesch Scoring

If you are already familiar with the Flesch Reading Ease test, then you won’t find it hard to understand the reading levels in the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level. How to read Flesch Kincaid scores will be easy if you understand the numerical grade level system of the US.

The Flesch Kincaid Grade Level has the some of following levels: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. The higher you score, the more difficult the text is to read. As a general guide, it is a smart idea to aim for a Flesch Kincaid reading level of 8. This is because the average reader will have reading skills equivalent to 8th graders.

Flesch-Kincaid Formula

Like the Flesch Reading Ease test, the basic idea behind the Flesch Kincaid reading test is simple. Use simple words and short sentences for better comprehension. If you follow this rules, you can easily get the Flesch Kincaid Reading Age (FKRA).

Thus, the building blocks of their formulas are formed from sentence length (how many words in a sentence) and word length (how many syllables in a word). In formula form, you will need to calculate for the Average Sentence Length (ASL) and Average Syllables per Word (ASW).

For you to work out the grade level of your text, you will need to use:
FKRA = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) – 15.59

Once you get your reset, analyzing it is straightforward. A score of 4 will tell you that the text can be read by a 4th grader while a score of 14 can be understood by college students.

Grade Conversion

FKRA Score School Level Comprehension
5.0-5.9 5th Grade Very easy to read
6.0-6.9 6th Grade Easy to read
7.0-7.9 7th Grade Fairly easy to read
8.0-9.9 8th & 9th Grade Conversational English
10.0-12.9 10th , 11th & 12th Grade Fairly difficult to read
13.0-15.9 College Difficult to read
16.0-17.9 College Graduate Very difficult to read
18.0+ Professional Extremely difficult to read

Uses

The improved formula of the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level was developed for education purposes which is why it is best used in this field. It is pretty straightforward, and will give you the results you need quickly. As such, many industries (even those outside of education) use it as a diagnostic.

The Flesch Kincaid Readability Test is ideal for website content, advertisements, textbooks and training programs, editing and proofreading, and writing novels. You can also use it to write terms and conditions that can be understood by the layman and even for communicating with a non-specialist audience.

How to Improve Score

Improving your readability score in the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level is very much the same with the Flesch Reading Ease. That’s because they operate under a similar ideal. Long story short, keep your text simple and you’re good to go.

To do so, you will need to:

  • Shorten your paragraphs. Five sentences per paragraph is a good guide.
  • Use simple words. Words used in everyday conversations are easier to understand.
  • Use simple sentences. Running sentences are a no-no. Break up your sentences if you need to.
  • Write for your audience. Research your target audience and their reading abilities. Write in their own language and lingo so they can easily comprehend your text.

Further Readings

Wikipedia

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is:

See Grade Conversion Table to interpret the score.