Using Flesch reading ease test
June 24, 2014 12:53 PM   Subscribe

"Can you use the Flesch Reading Ease Formula with a one-word sentence or a phrase that isnt a complete sentence? Such as a multiple choice answer on a test.
posted by Postroad to Education (3 answers total)
The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease score is, according to Wikipedia:

206.835 - [1.015 * (total words / total sentences)] - [84.6 * (total syllables / total words)]

If we use a one-word partial sentence (no complete sentence is one word), then we get a score of:

206.835 - 1.015 * (1 / 1) - 84.6 * (1 / 1) = 121.22. According to the scale given at the Wiki link, this is above the maximum score of 100, so I surmise that the formula is not meant to be used with single word "sentences".

I am assuming here that one word has one syllable; but if you use, say, sanctimonious as your one word, you need to adjust the formula accordingly.
posted by dfriedman at 1:19 PM on June 24, 2014

No, you basically can't. The test is specifically designed for reading passages of material, not attesting to the grade level or readability of specific words with very little context. It looks like you might want to look at vocabulary grade-levels for words (example) to figure out where things would fall.

My mom used to write English textbooks and some of my very first jobs were doing readability studies on the things she would write. Basically if you don't have a sentence this isn't the tool for you.
posted by jessamyn at 2:31 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could also use vocabulary frequency data to give you some indication of difficulty.
posted by Gotanda at 2:39 PM on June 24, 2014

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