Should We 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 for 11 Plus entrance exams. Yet, what does it 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.)

How old is your child's reading age?

Better readers get into the best schools.

Does it really matter?

Now this might look like it’s within your child’s reach but, in fact, 11 Plus exams 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. Speaking to an 11 plus tutor or taking an 11 plus mock exam can provide a gauge of your child’s comprehension ability. However, some papers are much more accessible than others, meaning that a good performance in one mock test paper does not guarantee the same or similar in another or, most importantly, in the real thing. Most 11 plus tuition centres do not provide a formal measurement or test for this either.

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 we use at 11 Plus London.

Free Tests

11 Plus London (free with 11 plus mock test interview)

Burt Test

Read 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! Exposure to the language is guaranteed to see improvement – so check our recommended reading lists here and consider fine-tuning their comprehension skills further through one of our popular intensive courses. At 11 Plus London, we offer a full range of 11 Plus mock test practice and have also incorporated reading age testing, as part of the interview practice, at every 11 plus mock test day.