The Readability Test

I remember when I was student, one professor asked us to prepare a memo and a speech in view to explain the Law of Large Numbers to… a 10 years old kid.

Both of us believed it was a piece of cake especially for advanced students in econometrics: the subject belongs to the introduction in statistics and random variables.

Both of us gave our memo and made the speech (less than 20 graduated students, so no problem)

Both of us failed.

Both of us felt WTF, what’s wrong?

I think for the first time, thanks to this professor, I realized that if you really know a subject, you are supposed to be able to explain it in a clearly way to people who have never heard about it.

Even it was a long time ago, I never forgot that class.

Anyway, my point is not this one but it is related to: what is the readability of our writing?

When you check your spelling in WORD, you get a readability statistics.

Today I was just surfing Internet for relax during my coffee break (come on!) and I visited a good blog written by an American professor, which mentioned a Website test for your readability abilities.

I followed the link which is sorting out sites from “elementary school” to “genius”. Very simple: just type the address.

For my personal blog, the result is:

                                

For my forex blog, I got the same result 🙂

I don’t know if I should aim for high school or kindergarten 😉

It is common sense that if you want to get a lot of “reach”, your text should be written at the junior high or lower level.

The problem is how to judge or test your readability? This link is one way and readability statistics from WORD another easy way. But do they provide compatible results?

To verify it, I tested the text of my previous post and here are the results:

From the above link (just copy and past the address) I got:

                                 

Hum Hum Hum 🙂

And from WORD (see the link and explanations above) the result for “Flesch Reading Ease” is 47.7 (The higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most standard files, the score should be between 60 and 70).

For “Flesch-Kindcaid Grade Level”, the result is 11.9 (This test rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0).

Conclusion: results obtained from the Website and WORD using exactly the same text are roughly coherent, showing a readability above the “what should be” level.

But it raises a question about the algorithms used to measure the readability.

Common factors used for evaluating readability include:

  • Number of words in a sentence.
  • Number of syllables per word.
  • Usually algorithms also include a syntactic factor and semantic factor.
  • Use of passive sentence etc…

I don’t know the algorithm used by the above mentioned Website but the results are quite surprising at least for my two blogs.

I believe this tools gives better results text per text that for a whole blog or Website.

Anyway, it is always very interesting to have an idea about our readability. Between to be “technical” or “readable”, what will be your choice?

🙂

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