Spache Readability Score
Most readability tests are focused on readability results for fourth-grade students and above. That is why they can be used for a variety of industries.
However, the Spache Readability Score is more age-specific than others. It is best used for English texts aimed at fourth-grade students and below. As such, the Spache reading test is not the best assessment tool for general readability.
The Spache Readability Score was first introduced in 1952 by George Spache. It features a word list that helps compare the words found in a text with a set of everyday words that young children up to the fourth-grade level could understand. The Spache Diagnostic Reading Scale was formulated to account for the younger age group usually neglected in readability tests designed for adult readers.
The Spache Readability Score takes into account two variables: sentence length and specific words. This formula uses the Spache word list, which features ‘familiar words’ that most young children will know. With the word list, you can analyze how many words in the text are familiar or unfamiliar.
Since some texts tend to be long, the original Spache Readability formula only required a sample passage of 100-150 words. With today’s technology, accuracy is not a problem because you can use automated means.
The revised version of the Spache word list was created and 1978 and had about 1,000 words. It is the version still used today. But don’t be surprised if it is revised again. Spache believes that readability formulas should not be static and should evolve with the times.
The Spache Readability Formula is quite straightforward but tedious to do. All you need to remember are a few easy steps.
Step 1: Choose a sample passage of at least 100-150 words.
Step 2: Count the total number of words in the text.
Step 3: Count the total number of sentences in the text.
Step 4: Divide answer from Step 2 by answer from Step 3 to get ASL.
Step 5: Count the total number of words in the text that cannot be found in the Spache word list.
Step 4: Divide answer from Step 5 by answer from Step 2. Multiply by 100 to get PDW.
Then, use this formula:
SRL = (0.141 x ASL) + (0.086 x PDW) + 0.839
ASL = Average Sentence Length
PDW = Percentage of Difficult Words
SRL = Spache Reading Level
Spache Readability Index Level outputs the US Grade Level. So you want to aim for a score of 3 or below.
Familiar Words vs. Difficult Words
In the Spache Readability Score, you need to differentiate between familiar words and difficult words.
Familiar words are easier to identify since they are the words found in the Spache Word List. Other words included are:
- Variants of the words in the Spache Word List with different suffixes (e.g., ing, -ed, es)
- Plural and Possessive forms of the words in the Spache Word List
- First Names
- Single letters as words
Difficult words are the words that do not appear in the Spache Word List. Other words included are:
- Variants of words in the Spache Word List with irregular verb form endings
- Variants of words in the Spache Word List with adverbial endings
- Variants of words in the Spache Word List with comparative and superlative endings (e.g., est, -er, -ly)
The Spache Readability Score is a highly specialist readability assessment tool. As such, it cannot be used for general readability. This formula is best used by primary grade teachers and children’s book authors because of the specific aged audience that this test has.
How to Improve Score
If you want to score well within the Spache Readability Scale, make sure to use simple words. You can also score higher if you avoid difficult words and stick to familiar words. If you find the work of looking into the word list too tedious, you can always use a Spache Readability calculator.
Spache Word List
Download Spache Word List
a | able | about | above | across | act | add | afraid | after | afternoon | again | against | ago | air | airplane | alarm | all | almost | alone | along | already | also | always | am | among | an | and | angry | animal | another | answer | any | anyone | appear | apple | are | arm | around | arrow | as | ask | asleep | at | ate | attention | aunt | awake | away
| b | baby | back | bad | bag | ball | balloon | bang | bank | bark | barn | basket | be | bean | bear | beat | beautiful | became | because | become | bed | bee | been | before | began | begin | behind | believe | bell | belong | bend | bent | beside | best | better | between | big | bird | birthday | bit | bite | black | blanket | blew | block | blow | blue | board | boat | book | boot | born | borrow | both | bother | bottle | bottom | bought | bow | box | boy | branch | brave | bread | break | breakfast | breath | brick | bridge | bright | bring | broke | broken | brother | brought | brown | brush | build | bump | burn | bus | busy | but | butter | button | buy | by
| c | cabin | cage | cake | call | came | camp | can | candle | candy | can’t | cap | captain | car | card | care | careful | carrot | carry | case | castle | cat | catch | cattle | caught | cause | cent | certain | chair | chance | change | chase | chicken | chief | child | children | church | circle | circus | city | clap | clean | clever | cliff | climb | clock | close | cloth | clothes | clown | coat | cold | color | come | comfortable | company | contest | continue | cook | cool | corner | could | count | country | course | cover | cow | crawl | cream | cry | cup | curtain | cut
| d | Dad | dance | danger | dangerous | dark | dash | daughter | day | dear | decide | deep | desk | did | didn’t | die | different | dig | dinner | direction | disappear | disappoint | discover | distance | do | doctor | does | dog | dollar | done | don’t | door | down | dragon | dream | dress | drink | drive | drop | drove | dry | duck | during | dust
| e | each | eager | ear | early | earn | earth | easy | eat | edge | egg | eight | eighteen | either | elephant | else | empty | end | enemy | enough | enter | even | ever | every | everything | exact | except | excite | exclaim | explain | eye
| face | fact | fair | fall | family | far | farm | farmer | farther | fast | fat | father | feather | feed | feel | feet | fell | fellow | felt | fence | few | field | fierce | fight | figure | fill | final | find | fine | finger | finish | fire | first | fish | five | flag | flash | flat | flew | floor | flower | fly | follow | food | for | forest | forget | forth | found | four | fourth | fox | fresh | friend | frighten | frog | from | front | fruit | full | fun | funny | fur
| g | game | garden | gasp | gate | gave | get | giant | gift | girl | give | glad | glass | go | goat | gone | good | got | grandfather | grandmother | grass | gray | great | green | grew | grin | ground | group | grow | growl | guess | gun
| h | had | hair | half | hall | hand | handle | hang | happen | happiness | happy | hard | harm | has | hat | hate | have | he | head | hear | heard | heavy | held | hello | help | hen | her | here | herself | he’s | hid | hide | high | hill | him | himself | his | hit | hold | hole | holiday | home | honey | hop | horn | horse | hot | hour | house | how | howl | hum | hundred | hung | hungry | hunt | hurry | hurt | husband
| i | I | ice | idea | if | I’ll | I’m | imagine | important | in | inch | indeed | inside | instead | into | invite | is | it | it’s | its
| j | jacket | jar | jet | job | join | joke | joy | jump | just
| k | keep | kept | key | kick | kill | kind | king | kitchen | kitten | knee | knew | knock | know
| l | ladder | lady | laid | lake | land | large | last | late | laugh | lay | lazy | lead | leap | learn | least | leave | left | leg | less | let | let’s | letter | lick | lift | light | like | line | lion | list | listen | little | live | load | long | look | lost | lot | loud | love | low | luck | lump | lunch
| m | machine | made | magic | mail | make | man | many | march | mark | market | master | matter | may | maybe | me | mean | meant | meat | meet | melt | men | merry | met | middle | might | mile | milk | milkman | mind | mine | minute | miss | mistake | moment | money | monkey | month | more | morning | most | mother | mountain | mouse | mouth | move | much | mud | music | must | my | n | name | near | neck | need | needle | neighbor | neighborhood | nest | never | new | next | nibble | nice | night | nine | no | nod | noise | none | north | nose | not | note | nothing | notice | now | number
| n | name | near | neck | need | needle | neighbor | neighborhood | nest | never | new | next | nibble | nice | night | nine | no | nod | noise | none | north | nose | not | note | nothing | notice | now | number
| o | ocean | of | off | offer | often | oh | old | on | once | one | only | open | or | orange | order | other | our | out | outside | over | owl | own
| p | pack | paid | pail | paint | pair | palace | pan | paper | parade | parent | park | part | party | pass | past | pasture | path | paw | pay | peanut | peek | pen | penny | people | perfect | perhaps | person | pet | pick | picnic | picture | pie | piece | pig | pile | pin | place | plan | plant | play | pleasant | please | plenty | plow | picket | point | poke | pole | policeman | pond | poor | pop | postman | pot | potato | pound | pour | practice | prepare | present | pretend | pretty | princess | prize | probably | problem | promise | protect | proud | puff | pull | puppy | push | put
| q | queen | queer | quick | quiet | quite
| r | rabbit | raccoon | race | radio | rag | rain | raise | ran | ranch | rang | reach | read | ready | real | red | refuse | remember | reply | rest | return | reward | rich | ride | right | ring | river | road | roar | rock | rode | roll | roof | room | rope | round | row | rub | rule | run | rush
| s | sad | safe | said | sail | sale | salt | same | sand | sang | sat | save | saw | say | scare | school | scold | scratch | scream | sea | seat | second | secret | see | seed | seem | seen | sell | send | sent | seven | several | sew | shadow | shake | shall | shape | she | sheep | shell | shine | ship | shoe | shone | shook | shoot | shop | shore | short | shot | should | show | sick | side | sight | sign | signal | silent | silly | silver | since | sing | sister | sit | six | size | skip | sky | sled | sleep | slid | slide | slow | small | smart | smell | smile | smoke | snap | sniff | snow | so | soft | sold | some | something | sometimes | son | song | soon | sorry | sound | speak | special | spend | spill | splash | spoke | spot | spread | spring | squirrel | stand | star | start | station | stay | step | stick | still | stone | stood | stop | store | story | straight | strange | street | stretch | strike | strong | such | sudden | sugar | suit | summer | sun | supper | suppose | sure | surprise | swallow | sweet | swim | swing
| t | table | tail | take | talk | tall | tap | taste | teach | teacher | team | tear | teeth | telephone | tell | ten | tent | than | thank | that | that’s | the | their | them | then | there | these | they | thick | thin | thing | think | third | this | those | though | thought | three | threw | through | throw | tie | tiger | tight | time | tiny | tip | tire | to | today | toe | together | told | tomorrow | too | took | tooth | top | touch | toward | tower | town | toy | track | traffic | train | trap | tree | trick | trip | trot | truck | true | trunk | try | turkey | turn | turtle | twelve | twin | two
| u | ugly | uncle | under | unhappy | until | up | upon | upstairs | us | use | usual
| v | valley | vegetable | very | village | visit | voice
| w | wag | wagon | wait | wake | walk | want | war | warm | was | wash | waste | watch | water | wave | way | we | wear | weather | week | well | went | were | wet | what | wheel | when | where | which | while | whisper | whistle | white | who | whole | whose | why | wide | wife | will | win | wind | window | wing | wink | winter | wire | wise | wish | with | without | woke | wolf | woman | women | wonder | won’t | wood | word | wore | work | world | worm | worry | worth | would | wrong
X - Y
| x | y | yard | year | yell | yellow | yes | yet | you | young | your
| z | zoo