First Level Assessments

Here are some test and tasks which will help you when you suspect that a child might have dyslexia but are not certain.

Keep in mind that these do not provide enough information for a diagnostic assessment and therefore should never be used to draw firm conclusions; only an assessment with a specialist will determine if any child or adult is dyslexic.

Moreover, we strongly advise you not to use these tests before having completed the on-line learning course ‘Basics for teachers’, in which they are contextualised and explained. It is only by completing the course that you will be able to understand, use and interpret fully and adequately the results of learners in these first level assessments.

Checked June 2018

1. Online Dyslexia Test from ReadingHorizons at home
Many researchers agree that there are three steps that must be followed to for a prognostic evaluation when one suspects that a child may have dyslexia:

Establish a reading program according to age and education. Gather evidence supporting its ‘unexpectedness’; high learning capability may be determined solely on the basis of an educational or professional level of attainment.

Demonstrate evidence of an isolated phonologic weakness, with other higher-level language functions relatively unaffected.

2. Digit span – examining auditory short-term memory
Many dyslexic learners show, in addition to their difficulties with the written language, difficulties in other domains, including short term memory.

The digit span test examines short-term auditory memory. The child is presented with sequences of numbers of increasing of numbers of increasing length, that s/he needs to repeat in the order given or in reverse order. The number of digits that the child can repeat corresponds to his/her digit span.

The norms associated with this test allow for the derivation of a standard score (for which the mean is 100 and the standard deviation is 10), as well as a percentile equivalent. For example, a percentile of ’50’ means that 50% of children of the same age perform lower in this test than the participant.

3. Tumner Nonword Decoding Test – examining decoding abilities
The child is presented with a series of nonsense sequences (or pseudo-words). As these sequences have never been heard or read before, the child cannot use phonological or orthographic representations stored in long-term memory to read. She/he is forced to use the phonological decoding system to be able to pronounce the sequences correctly.

The norms associated with this test permit the derivation of simple ‘reading age’ equivalences. It is for poor readers only.

4. One Minute Reading Test – examining accuracy and speed (fluency) for word reading
The test consists of 158 one-syllable words. the participant is asked to read the words as quickly and accurately as possible and is stopped after one minute.

The norms associated with this test offer ‘reading age’ equivalents. The test also provides percentile equivalents for adults, derived from University referrals for dyslexia assessment.

There are two sets of norms: one provides the ‘reading age’ for children, the other provides the percentile equivalents for adults.

5. Sentence completion test – examining comprehension and writing speed using single letters
The sentence comprehension test consists of 40 sentences to be completed.

The norms associated with this test permit rough estimates of the performance of participants aged 9 – 18, as it provides averages for the top 10%, bottom 10% and bottom 2% levels.

The test of writing speed using simple letters consists of asking the participant to write down as many letters as possible as fast as possible for two minutes.

The associated norms provide the same information as those for the sentence comprehension test.