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What’s Up With the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test?

The Flesch-Kincaid readability test is a tool that some clients will require you to use to determine how easy it is to read what you have written.

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What Is the Flesch-Kincaid Test and Why Do Clients Want Me to Use It?


Some orders you come across will have special instructions that might be unfamiliar to you, but you’ll come across them often enough that it’s worth your time to become more comfortable with them. The Flesch-Kincaid readability test is one of those tests that are in many clients’ special instructions, and it’s worthwhile to learn more about this test. It might be intimidating at first, but if you understand why clients want you to use it, you’ll become a better freelance writer who will be able to command a higher rate, too.

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Why Was This Test Developed?


This test was designed to assess the overall ease with which a person could read the text that you write. It assesses the text based on overall sentence length and syllables per word to determine how easy or difficult a text is to read.


The Flesch-Kincaid reading test was originally developed to help the U.S. Navy assess the reading difficulty levels of certain manuals. Later, states began to adopt the system for developing information for consumers. For instance, Pennsylvania was the first state to require insurance companies to write automobile insurance policies at grade levels no higher than ninth to tenth-grade to ensure that policy buyers were able to understand what they were signing. This same test is still used in many states for determining whether or not a policy was written in a way that is accessible to most people.


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Why Do Some Clients Want You to Use It?

Some clients require that you use this test to determine whether or not a particular text that you write meets their standards. Most marketing copy for the general public is designed to be simple to read because companies want their messages to be accessible to as many people as possible. To ensure that they get a text that’s going to be easy to read, they require you to have a particular score. Texts that have low scores could be more complicated than necessary, so the text might be difficult to read because of poor writing.


How Are Texts Graded?


There are two scales that the Flesch-Kincaid readability test uses to communicate to you the overall ease with which a reader could understand what you wrote. The first is a scale of 1 to 100, with higher scores correlating with an easier reading experience. The second scale is a reading grade level, with the 1 to 100 scale correlating with the grade-level scale. For instance, a score of 90 to 100 is equivalent to about a fifth-grade reading level, and a score of 10 to 30 would be for college graduates.


What Are Clients Typically Looking for?


Clients are usually looking for text that is written for native English speakers with a reading level of between 8th and 10th grade. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule. For instance, sometimes clients will bump up the reading level if they know that there are brand names that they want you to use that will increase the score even if the sentences and other words are shorter in length. If you’re writing exclusively to an educated audience, the client might be more open to complex sentence structures and longer words if they add to the overall meaning.


Functions of the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test


There are several free versions of this test that you can input your text into and find out the grade level. Additionally, there are several other features that you can learn about your text. For instance, these types of free programs will also count the average number of words per sentence, percentage of complex words, total number of sentences, and average syllables per word.


How to Use This Test In Your Writing


If your client wants you to use this test, they’ll tell you the 1 to 100 score or the grade-level score that they want your text to be within. But if you’re interested in becoming a better freelance writer overall, you might also choose to use this tool even if you’re not writing for a client that wants you to stay within a certain score. Tools like this can help you identify when your writing might be needlessly complicated because of long sentences or long words.


When you’re interested in finding some ways to improve your writing and earn money more easily, or if you need to use it to ensure that your order meets your client’s standards, there are several free versions of the Flesch-Kincaid readability test that you can use.


Are you interested in learning more about becoming a successful freelance writer? Check out some of our information about working in the gig economy.

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