What Is Your Reading Level?

When veteran comedian Rocky Laporte was asked how he is able to look so young he responded, “because I read at a third grade level.”

While I don’t know about that as an anti-aging strategy, it does bring up something I have often wondered.

How is a book’s reading level is determined?

When I wrote my book, I was not sure how to figure out for which reading level it was most appropriate. I looked at other books that were similar in length and content and then I just kinda estimated what age range would want to read it.

Not very scientific.

I guess I just assumed the process of determining reading level was similar to the workings of the sorting hat in Harry Potter. I figured it was one of those things meant to always be a secret, like how the app Shazam works.

Just the other day, out of nowhere I was given the answer to the question I had always wondered but never taken the time to look up. It was an unprovoked discovery but I thought it would work for today’s Wonder Why Wednesday. Here’s what I found out…

How Is A Book’s Reading Level Determined?

Turns out there is a formula called the “Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level Formula.” According to Wikipedia, “this formula translates the 0–100 score to a U.S. grade level, making it easier for teachers, parents, librarians, and others to judge the readability level of various books and texts. The grade level is calculated with the following formula:


“The result is a number that corresponds with a U.S. grade level. The sentence, ‘The Australian platypus is seemingly a hybrid of a mammal and reptilian creature’ is a 13.1 as it has 26 syllables and 13 words.”

I can’t begin to figure out how that formula was created. Seems like they just sort of made it up as they went along. But who am I to question it?

What is cool is that there is a site where you can test the reading level of anything you want. All you have to do is enter the text or URL and will tell you the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

I decided I would test my book. The readability formula resulted in a 3rd grade reading level. My guesswork strategy must be pretty good because that reading level is about what I thought.

Just for fun I also decided to test the reading level of many popular websites. (Keep in mind that it only tests what is on the homepage, not the entire site). Here is what I found:

  • Wikipedia = 10.6 grade reading level
  • Google = 7.9 grade reading level
  • Amazon = 5.3 grade reading level
  • Yahoo = 5.1 grade reading level
  • Huffington Post = 4.9 grade reading level
  • YouTube = 4.5 grade reading level
  • Attention Land = 2.6 grade reading level

I can understand that Wikipedia might require a high reading level, but Google? How did they get a 7th grade reading level? Isn’t the homepage just the word Google? Am I missing something?

I can’t tell if it is discouraging or funny that Attention Land is meant for 2nd graders. Maybe it just means that our site is an easy read.



Photo credit: Pixabay