Nelson-Denny Reading Test (NDRT) Breakdown

The Nelson-Denny Reading Test has become one of the most widely-adopted measures of reading comprehension since it was developed in 1929. The Nelson-Denny test is not an “admission test” for learning institutions, though it may have limited use in that area. Neither is Nelson-Denny to be regarded as a clinical evaluation of reading problems. Nelson-Denny’s chief purpose is to identify students who have difficulty in reading, to gauge levels of progress after remediation, and to predict future potential for academic success.

The Nelson-Denny Reading Test can be administered in as little as 35 minutes. The time allotted for the test can be extended to meet a variety of classroom concerns. One reason for extending the time period would be to aid students for whom English is a second language. Also, adults who are returning to earn a high school diploma may require an extension of the time limits.

The Nelson-Denny measures the student’s reading rate in words per minute; it also measures vocabulary level and reading comprehension. Nelson-Denny is useful in secondary school placement for learning assessments. The Nelson-Denny test can be given individually or administered to larger groups.

The Nelson-Denny consists of a vocabulary section comprised of 80 multiple-choice questions. The vocabulary level is similar to that of high school and college textbooks. There are an additional 38 multiple-choice questions requiring the test taker to read paragraphs and identify content and inference. When the test is used to measure progress resulting from remedial reading classes, the Nelson-Denny test administrator will use both Form G and Form H of the Nelson-Denny test.

Because the Nelson-Denny tests are administered at both the secondary and the college levels, test scores are interpolated from raw scores to suit the purposes for which the test is intended. If the Nelson-Denny is administered to a ninth-grader, for example, the test administrator will convert the score to show “grade-equivalent scores.” The scores may show that the ninth grader is reading at the eleventh-grade level, in other words. Conversely, the first-year college student may be determined to be reading at the tenth-grade level of high school. Raw scores are also translated into percentile rankings: that is, they are compared with the test taker’s peers at the national level.