Readability Statistics

Underneath each essay on this site (but not yet in the forum, unfortunately), you may have seen a box with some statistics in the last line. These are some figures for readability.

Readability analysis tries to measure how difficult a text is to read.

  • The Flesch and Flesch-Kincaid methods use formulas based on the average number of words per sentence and the average number of syllables per word.
  • The Gunning-Fog method uses a formula based on the average number of words per sentence and the percentage of ‘hard’ words (words with 3 or more syllables) in the passage.

Both the Gunning-Fog and the Flesch-Kincaid give a score that is the number of years of education needed to understand the essay. Informal writing may try for a score in the 7-10 range.

The Flesch score is a percentage. The higher the Flesch score, the easier the essay is to read.


One problem with these numbers in this site is that they include the essay question and some other info as well as the answer. If you want a more accurate figure, select only the essay and paste the text into Microsoft Word (you may have to change your Word Options to Display Readability Statistics).

Of course, these readability statistics were designed for native speakers of English reading in English. They can only give rough guidelines for learners of English as a second or foreign language. But try to keep your writing simple: don’t think that long words means better writing!

Explains Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning-FOG and other readability stats

Have a look at some of these essay topics and check how readable they are, or aren’t…

agriculture childrencities co-educationcolleges communicationconsumer culturedevelopmenteconomy educationenvironmentessays familyfarming flights flying foodgovernment health ideasimages labour languageleisure media migrationmoney news old age parentspoverty relationshipsscience societyspending sport studyingtourism travel tuitionuniversity urban lifeviolence work

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