Why We Should Care About Reading Age

One of the most confusing aspects of reading and comprehension is the measurement of the reading age itself. We hear all the time about the importance of reading in the pursuit of academic success, especially when considering entrance exams for secondary schools – but more importantly to keep students climbing up the ladder of enlightenment through a healthy digest of quality written works. In light of this, what does it actually mean when you say that your child has such-and-such a reading age? Does it matter? And ultimately what can be done if we’re not happy with the result? Well, it’s really quite simple – and there are several ways to measure it:


So what is it exactly?

Reading age is officially defined as A child’s reading ability expressed with reference to an average age at which a comparable ability is found. Working out where your child should be is really easy and looks like this: Target Reading Age = Current Age +  Six Months (approx.)


Does it really matter?

Now, this might look like it’s within your child’s reach but, in fact, from 11 Plus exams onwards, a higher reading age is actually an essential requirement. When transitioning from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3, many secondary schools require a child to have a reading age of at least 2 years higher than their current school year – in order to stand a chance of keeping up with the syllabus and their peers. While the well-known traditional tests and assessments can provide a gauge of your child’s comprehension ability, understanding their reading age score may help you to address weakness earlier. In addition, some test papers are much more accessible than others, meaning that a good performance in one assessment does not guarantee the same or similar in another.


How do I get it measured then?

Fortunately, there are a few different ways to do this, some paid and some free. Both options are scientifically proven to be accurate tests, the results of which provide a clear indicator as to whether or not your child is on track for his year group – and also give us a better idea of the likelihood of passing examinations. The test plays out much as you would expect: Each child is given words and sentences to read, starting with the most basic, and moving up towards much more complex arrangements. When the child makes a certain number of mistakes, the test stops and their level can then be determined.
Here are the best places to get a good ‘reading’ of your child’s reading age, including the test procedure used at 11 Plus London.


Free Tests

11 Plus London (free with 11 plus mock test interview)Burt TestRead Unite (Reading Age Calculator)

Paid Tests

Suffolk Reading Scale (GL Assessment)New Salford Sentence Reading Test
From our experience all the above tests carry equal weight and should give a very accurate result, with a margin of error of just 1-3 months. As with all formal tests, exam conditions must be maintained, which means your child must focus and cannot be given any help or discuss the test until after it is completed. Sensible questions may be answered, within reason.


Another point to note is that sometimes reading age may fluctuate – this may be dependent on illness, travel or any other aspect that can reduce or may have reduced reading time in the past, so it may be a good idea to repeat the test procedure at least once. While it is important to understand this, and how it reflects on your child’s reading and comprehension ability, the best thing you can do now is get them reading – and keep them reading!

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