Frequently Asked Questions
What is Flesch Kincaid
The Flesch Kincaid Grade Level is a widely used readability formula which assesses the approximate reading grade level of a text.
It was developed by the US Navy who worked with the Flesch Reading Ease. Previously, the Flesch Reading Ease score had to be converted via a table to translate to the reading grade level. The amended version was developed in the 1970s to make it easier to use. The Navy utilized it for their technical manuals used in training.
Now it’s used for a much wider variety of applications. If a text has a Flesch Kincaid level of 8, this means the reader needs a grade 8 level of reading or above to understand it. Even if they’re an advanced reader, it means the content is less time-consuming to read.
What is Flesch Reading Ease?
The Flesch Reading Ease gives a text a score between 1 and 100, with 100 being the highest readability score. Scoring between 70 to 80 is equivalent to school grade level 8. This means text should be fairly easy for the average adult to read.
The formula was developed in the 1940s by Rudolf Flesch. He was a consultant with the Associated Press, developing methods for improving the readability of newspapers.
Now, over 70 years later, the Flesch Reading Ease is used by marketers, research communicators and policy writers, amongst many others. All use it to help them assess the ease by which a piece of text will be understood and engaged with.
What is Readability Scoring?
A readability score is a computer-calculated index which can tell you roughly what level of education someone will need to be able to read a piece of text easily.
There are several algorithms available for measuring scores, and these use factors like sentence length, syllable count, the percentage of multi-syllable words and so on to calculate their own readability score.
What are readability formulas?
ln the mid-seventies, the US Navy were looking for a way of measuring the difficulty of technical manuals used by Navy personnel in training. A challenge in using the Flesch Reading Ease measure is that test results are not immediately meaningful.
To make sense of the score requires the aid of a conversion table. So, the Flesch Reading Ease test was revisited and, along with other readability tests, the formula was amended to be more suitable for use in the navy. The new calculation was the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (1975).
Who is Dr. Flesch?
Not long after finishing his graduate degree, in 1955 he published what became his most famous book, Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do About It. The book was a critique of the then-trendy practice of teaching reading by sight, often called the "look-say" method. The flaw of this method, according to Flesch, was that it required brute force memorization with no theory behind it so that when confronted with an unknown word, the learner became confused. As a solution, Flesch advocated a revival of the phonics method, the teaching of reading by teaching learners to sound out words using rules. The book inspired Dr. Seuss to write The Cat in the Hat (1957).
He created the Flesch Reading Ease test and was co-creator of the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests. Flesch advocated use of phonics rather than sight reading to enable students to sound-out unfamiliar words.