Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is your PS?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

What is the Flesch Reading Ease of Your Personal Statement?

1-30
8
7%
31-35
3
3%
36-40
6
5%
41-45
15
13%
46-50
19
16%
51-55
16
14%
56-60
23
20%
61-65
11
9%
66-70
6
5%
71-100
9
8%
 
Total votes: 116

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joshhoward
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Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is your PS?

Postby joshhoward » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:51 pm

Lets conduct a study:
THE RESEARCH QUESTION:
What is the relation (or correlation) between the Flesch–Kincaid readability score of a Personal Statement and an applicant's likelihood of being accepted to a Law School?

THE BENEFITS:
If enough data is collected, ideally, we can determine the mean and medians readability scores for PS's accepted at various school. So, for example, our study might show that NYU applicants who get accepted had an average Flesch Reading Ease of 49.2, while those rejected (or only been accepted at lower ranked schools) had a Reading Ease of 53.4, which would then help an applicant determine whether there PS is sufficiently sophisticated enough.

THE FLAWS:
Obviously there are many other factors that influence admissions decisions, but with a large enough sample size, I think it will become a helpful base, and if LSAT and GPA scores are reported, we can adjust likelihood of acceptance to a certain school to reflect their importance.

HOW TO FIND OUR READABILITY SCORES:
In Microsoft Word, go into options -> proofing -> click on "check grammar with spelling -> and then click right underneath it "show readability statistics". Now simply run spellcheck (hit F7), and when it finished checking your paper, it will show a dialog box with your statistics. (or read here. thank Helmholtz)

WHAT TO REPORT:
give your information like this -
LSAT: 173
GPA: 3.77
FSE: 53.4 (Flesch Reading Ease)
FKG: 11.7 (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level)
HRA: 5 (Highest Ranked Acceptance - using the U.S. News Law School Rankings, simply list the ranking of the highest ranked school you've been accepted to).

More on Flesch-Kincaid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch%E2% ... ility_test
Last edited by joshhoward on Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Miracle
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Miracle » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:00 pm

Lets do it!

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GeePee
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby GeePee » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:14 pm

This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

Carlisle
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Carlisle » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:18 pm

GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

i think he's trying to show that good essays have a lower reading level

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Chichaca
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Chichaca » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:18 pm

GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

Yeah, it's an interesting idea, but I predict no correlation.

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GeePee
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby GeePee » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:19 pm

Carlisle wrote:
GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

i think he's trying to show that good essays have a lower reading level

Nah, look at his contention. Higher numbers on the readability have lower acceptance rates, according to preliminary data. And higher numbers correlate to being easier to read, or a lower grade level.

Carlisle
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Carlisle » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:21 pm

GeePee wrote:
Carlisle wrote:
GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

i think he's trying to show that good essays have a lower reading level

Nah, look at his contention. Higher numbers on the readability have lower acceptance rates, according to preliminary data. And higher numbers correlate to being easier to read, or a lower grade level.

ok, i didn't realize higher numbers meant easier to read.

GMVarun
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby GMVarun » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:22 pm

I suspect there will be a correlation, but one with huge omitted variable bias. It might be an interesting tool to forecast (predict) cycles though obviously if you control for GPA/LSAT

GMVarun
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby GMVarun » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:24 pm

Carlisle wrote:
GeePee wrote:
Carlisle wrote:
GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

i think he's trying to show that good essays have a lower reading level

Nah, look at his contention. Higher numbers on the readability have lower acceptance rates, according to preliminary data. And higher numbers correlate to being easier to read, or a lower grade level.

ok, i didn't realize higher numbers meant easier to read.


I am pretty sure you were originally right, (higher is harder to read) but that's why I suspect the correlation may be negative (the higher the score, the lower the rank) and so the study will still be interesting.

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joshhoward
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby joshhoward » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:29 pm

GeePee wrote:
Carlisle wrote:
GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.

i think he's trying to show that good essays have a lower reading level

Nah, look at his contention. Higher numbers on the readability have lower acceptance rates, according to preliminary data. And higher numbers correlate to being easier to read, or a lower grade level.


I have no specific contention. Its not so much that "higher" or "lower" is better, but rather to find the optimal range. The result will obviously take on somewhat of a bell curve, and the objective is to find what the peak of the curve is. I used those numbers just as examples, but not meant to make any claim about the findings.

In either case, it wouldn't hurt to give it a try, so I encourage everyone to take a minute and report your scores.

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Helmholtz
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Helmholtz » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:31 pm

Mine has a 100.0 reading ease score and a 3.9 grade level. If I understand the OP right, this is not a good sign, correct?

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NayBoer
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby NayBoer » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:31 pm

Somebody's Office 2007 is showing. In Word 2003 it's Tools > Options > Spelling & Grammar tab > Show readability statistics.

Obviously this assumes that one submits the same PS to all schools. It also discounts the effects of content (too hard to compare) and word count (very easy to compare).

I wouldn't assume that longer sentences and more syllables will necessarily correlate to law school admission. If anything it may make it more difficult to read.

If only there were some sort of universal test that all potential law students could take to estimate their aptitude for law school. We could administer it nationwide. In fact, maybe the same agency that administered the test could send entire application packages and thus streamline the process.

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joshhoward
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby joshhoward » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:32 pm

GMVarun wrote:I am pretty sure you were originally right, (higher is harder to read) but that's why I suspect the correlation may be negative (the higher the score, the lower the rank) and so the study will still be interesting.


for the reading ease score, higher is easier to read, while for the Grade Level score, higher is more difficult to read (they are inversely related, and additionally, somewhat redundant).

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joshhoward
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby joshhoward » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:37 pm

NayBoer wrote:Somebody's Office 2007 is showing. In Word 2003 it's Tools > Options > Spelling & Grammar tab > Show readability statistics.

Obviously this assumes that one submits the same PS to all schools. It also discounts the effects of content (too hard to compare) and word count (very easy to compare).

I wouldn't assume that longer sentences and more syllables will necessarily correlate to law school admission. If anything it may make it more difficult to read.

If only there were some sort of universal test that all potential law students could take to estimate their aptitude for law school. We could administer it nationwide. In fact, maybe the same agency that administered the test could send entire application packages and thus streamline the process.

Concider the study in this manner. If we were to go to Yale Law School and ask all the student attending to report their Flesch scores of their PS on which they were admitted, wouldn't you think that the results would have some indication about the most optimal range of reading ease? This essentially, though nowhere quite as smoothly, does the same task.

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joshhoward
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby joshhoward » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:39 pm

NayBoer wrote:Somebody's Office 2007 is showing. In Word 2003 it's Tools > Options > Spelling & Grammar tab > Show readability statistics.


Ha. I'll one-up you. Office 2010 lol.

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ozarkhack
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby ozarkhack » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:42 pm

Higher score is EASIER to read.

True. The flaws here are many. ... And don't forget that good readability stats cannot mask a shitty PS.

As to what's good, since the idea is to be read and remembered, giving 'em an easy read is key. One can still deliver sophistication of thought and organization via simple writing and, heaven forfend, a low grade-level score. In fact, simpler, cleaner writing is always the best way to go. Always. Always. Always.

But, for jollies, I'd like to see others' numbers.

Mine (for main, longest version that was sent w/most apps):

LSAT: 160
GPA: 3.73
FSE: 60.2
FKG: 9.2
HRA: TBD
Last edited by ozarkhack on Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jcunni5
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby jcunni5 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:51 pm

anyone know how to do this for MS Word on a Mac?

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Helmholtz
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Helmholtz » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:52 pm

jcunni5 wrote:anyone know how to do this for MS Word on a Mac?


http://blog.mclaughlinsoftware.com/2009 ... ity-stats/

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jcunni5
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby jcunni5 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:57 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
jcunni5 wrote:anyone know how to do this for MS Word on a Mac?


http://blog.mclaughlinsoftware.com/2009 ... ity-stats/



Thanks that's what i needed

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hoopsguy6
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby hoopsguy6 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:05 pm

Mine is 60/9. I have no idea what that means.

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kurla88
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby kurla88 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:13 pm

Make a poll!

My ease was 46.1 and grade level was 13.8... I thought I wrote it in pretty simple terms.

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Helmholtz
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Helmholtz » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:16 pm

kurla88 wrote:Make a poll!

My ease was 46.1 and grade level was 13.8... I thought I wrote it in pretty simple terms.


wtf?!

How was mine 100 and under a 4th grade level?! Goddammit, I bet Dr. Suess hits higher.

Hopefully, the adcomm will just pay more attention to all the pretty pictures in my PS instead of the text.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:21 pm

GeePee wrote:This test is counter-productive to the type of writing done by lawyers and looked for in the personal statement. Basically, the test only looks for polysyllabic words and large numbers of words per sentence. Basically, an essay plagued by run-on sentences and poor grammar with lots of big words will have the highest scores.

For documents that are meant to be concise and succinct rather than verbose and flowery, this test has no purpose (and, I would contend, in general). I'd say that this research has little to no applicable value on an intuitive level.


I should kill this then haha.

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NayBoer
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby NayBoer » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:33 pm

Helmholtz wrote:How was mine 100 and under a 4th grade level?! Goddammit, I bet Dr. Suess hits higher.

Hopefully, the adcomm will just pay more attention to all the pretty pictures in my PS instead of the text.


Wikipedia wrote:The lowest grade level score in theory is -3.40, but, since there are few real passages that have every sentence consisting of two one-syllable words, this rarely occurs in practice. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss comes close, averaging 5.7 words per sentence and 1.02 syllables per word, with a grade level of -1.3. (Most of the 50 used words are monosyllabic; "anywhere", which occurs 8 times, is an exception.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch%E2%80%93Kincaid_readability_test

Mine was 51.1 readability and 11.5 grade level. I'm wordy despite my better judgment. At least I had zero passive sentences.

I think OP's point is that less readable is a rough proxy for more sophisticated. After a certain point, I'm inclined to disagree.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Flesch–Kincaid readability test - How readable is you PS?

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:40 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
kurla88 wrote:Make a poll!

My ease was 46.1 and grade level was 13.8... I thought I wrote it in pretty simple terms.


wtf?!

How was mine 100 and under a 4th grade level?! Goddammit, I bet Dr. Suess hits higher.

Hopefully, the adcomm will just pay more attention to all the pretty pictures in my PS instead of the text.


Helm - I followed the instructions for Word 2007 but I can't find where it shows the readability stats. Help.




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