Use Microsoft Word to Find the Grade Level of any Document,
or report, thesis, letter, article or any written document.
By Gloria Goldsmith
Microsoft Word has a program within it of which most computer users, including homeschoolers, are NOT aware. Microsoft has incorporated the very helpful Flesh-Kincaid Readability scores in the Word program. This means you have a source available, right at your fingertips, to determine the grade level of every book in your house! Plus, high school and college students can check if their compositions are up to their grade level or higher before submission.
The scale that will appear in Word has three sections of information: Counts, Averages, and Readability. The first two are self explanatory; the third section contains Passive Sentences, Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
Important to understand for composition purposes, it is not important for our grade level information. Information can be found on the web regarding the meaning of the passive voice.
Flesch Reading Ease
Based on a 100 point scale, the higher the score, the easier it is to understand (comprehend) the passage.
90.0 - 100.0
Easily understandable by average 11 year old student
60.0 - 70.0
Easily understandable by average 13 -15 year old student
0.0 - 30.0
Best understood by University Graduate
The standard readability desired is 60 -70. A few examples give more clarity: Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone is 100, Charlotte’s Web is 83, Reader’s Digest is 65, Time magazine is 52, and Harvard Law Review is in the low 30’s.
Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level
A specific formula is used that computes the number of syllables, words and sentences in a passage which is translated to Grade level information.
How To Use
For all grades, select THREE passages: one from the beginning, middle and end of the book. In order to receive accurate grade level information and the higher the probable grade level, the more important it is to use three passages from different areas of the book.
Early Grades (1, 2, 3) - you probably will type an entire page or two (at least five sequential sentences) from the beginning, middle and end, just as they appear in the book.
Grades 4 and up – Select a paragraph of five or more sentences from the beginning, middle and end of the story. Obviously, the higher the grade level, the longer the sentences and paragraphs will be.
To Activate Word’s Readability Statistics:
Word is Microsoft’s word processing program.
Open the Word program.
Find Tools and click on it, go to Options. This will bring up a new window with several tabs.
Select Spelling & Grammar Tab, go to Grammar section, check box for “Show Readability Statistics” and click OK at bottom of window.
To Use Activated Program
Type in the three selected passages. Go to Tools (at top) select Spelling and Grammar.
If the program thinks it has found a misspelling or grammar error a box will come up allowing you to fix or ignore. Once you have moved through all perceived errors the statistics window will pop up. If you own the book, on the copyright page write the grade level (Example: GL: 4), this will save you time down the road. If it’s a borrowed book write the information on a post-it note, placing it on the copyright page.
Open the program and click on the Microsoft Office Button located in upper left corner.
At the bottom of new small window, click on “Word Options”.
A large window appears with two sections, in the left section click on “Proofing”.
On the right, find the heading “When Correcting Spelling and Grammar in Word”; check the box beside “Show Readability Statistics”.
Click OK at bottom of window.
To Use Activated Program
Click on Review Tab, on the far left click on Spelling and Grammar. If the program thinks it has found a misspelling or grammar error a box will come up allowing you to fix or ignore. Once you have moved through all perceived errors the statistics window will pop up. If you own the book write the grade level on the copyright page (Example: GL: 4), this will save you time down the road. If it’s a borrowed book write the information on a post-it note, placing it on the copyright page.