One of the features Word Counter provides in the Details section is the Reading Level. In this blog post, we will further explain the mechanics and implications of this metric. Above all else, it is essential to note that Reading Level does not evaluate your writing prowess. Exceptional writing can be classified with a fourth-grade reading level, while subpar writing may receive a college-level reading classification. It is a common misconception that a higher Reading Level equals superior writing. Some mistakenly believe that a college-level reading indicates excellent quality compared to a tenth-grade level. However, it is crucial to understand that this metric does not assess writing proficiency in such terms.
The purpose of the Reading Level is solely to provide an estimate of the educational background necessary for comprehending the language used in your writing. It should not be interpreted as a measure of your writing proficiency or skill. Instead, it serves as a helpful tool to anticipate the educational requirements for understanding your content.
The Reading Level calculation employed by Word Counter relies on the Dale-Chall readability formula. This formula establishes a baseline using a collection of 3,000 commonly understood words typically associated with a fourth-grade vocabulary. If your writing primarily incorporates the words from this list of 3,000, your Reading Level rank will correspond to a fourth-grade level. However, the Reading Level will progressively rise as you incorporate words beyond this foundational list. The more words you employ that extend beyond the core 3,000-word inventory, the higher the assigned reading level will be within the Reading Level feature.
The Reading Level field will initially display as "N/A" when you start typing in the text area. To generate a Reading Level, a minimum of two sentences must be written. The formula used to calculate the Reading Level incorporates the number of sentences, and the accuracy of the Readability Level improves with an increased number of sentences. Hence, a minimum of two sentences is required to establish a reliable Reading Level assessment.
Considering this, when the metric indicates that your writing is at a "college level", it implies that you are incorporating a substantial amount of words that may be unfamiliar to a fourth-grader. Conversely, if the Reading Level suggests a fourth-grade level, it means that a fourth-grader can understand most of the words you use in your writing. If the metric indicates a seventh-grade level, it signifies that you are using some words that may not be comprehensible to a typical fourth-grader, although not to the extent that would classify the Reading Level as college level.
Reading Level holds significance for various reasons. It can be particularly valuable if you aim to tailor your article, story, or any other form of writing to a specific audience that corresponds to a particular grade level. This metric serves as a helpful tool to ensure that your writing remains accessible to your intended readers without becoming too complex. However, it's also important to strike a balance and avoid using solely elementary-level vocabulary to prevent your writing from sounding overly simplistic. Instead, you may wish to incorporate a greater range of vocabulary and elevate the language in order to engage readers with a higher level of education.