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A 5 Year 9 Months Old Reads at Grade 7 Level? Is it Possible?

Part 2: The Burt Reading Test

See Part 1 here. While these tests work well to assess the reading grade level and reading age of a child, they do not assess the reading comprehension level of a child. So while my young children scored far higher than what's expected of their ages, it does not necessarily mean that they have that same high level of comprehension, yet.

A difference between reading ability (word recognition and decoding) versus reading comprehension (understanding what is being read) needs to be highlighted here. A child's reading ability and fluency can develop to amazing levels far beyond what's expected of their current age - such as my 5.9 year old reading at a grade 7 level or my 3.9 year old reading at a grade 3 level.

However, it's not realistic to expect that a 5.9 year old can comprehend at a grade 7 level or that a 3.9 year old can comprehend at a grade 3 level. There are 2 key aspects leading to reading comprehension: 1) a rich vocabulary, and 2) decoding and word recognition skills (reading fluency). If one of these are missing, a child may have some reading comprehension difficulties.

With advanced reading/decoding skills, my 5.9 year old could read words such as "perambulating" or "constitutionally" from the Burt Word Test, but of course, she has no idea what these words mean. She can read these words because she understands the Real Mechanics of reading; she understands what makes a word sound like a word (show these words to sight readers, and they wouldn't know where to begin).

While it's not reasonable to expect her to have the same level of reading comprehension as a 7th grader, you can be certain that not only is she reading at a level far above her peers, but she also comprehends at a far higher level as well.

The Burt Word Reading Test

As we had already discussed the WRT and Wide Range tests, we'll take a look at the Burt Test here. This is a standardized reading test that is widely used to determine a child's reading skills. The test provides a list of 110 words, and a child attempts to read as many words as possible. The words increase in difficulty as you progress.

The test also comes with a scoring sheet with the expected norms for determining a child's reading age. Download from rrf.org.uk.

While almost all Burt Tests you find on the web has the chart to determine reading age, none contain the chart for determining grade level. The chart I'm providing below is one that I found from an original print of the Burt Test, so the quality isn't great. Use the number of words your child read correctly to determine grade level. So as an example, my daughter Rain (5.9yrs) got 98 words correct, and that puts her in "Primary Seven" at approximately 75th percentile (need 99 words for 80th).

Over the past few years, we've done the test for our kids several times. Below are charts showing their amazing progress.


Chronological Age

Reading Age

Grade Level

3 years 9 months

7 years 6 months

Gr. 2 (80th percentile)

4 years 7 months

10 years 1 month

Gr. 4 (80th percentile)

5 years 1 months

11 years 9 months

Gr. 5 (85th percentile)

5 years 9 months

13.0 years

Gr. 7 (75th percentile)

7 years 8 months

n/a **

Raw Score 105 = Gr. 10 **

** The Burt test only goes up to Gr. 7.  Beyond that, I used the Wide Range Reading Test for K to College.


Chronological Age

Reading Age

Grade Level

3.0 years

6 years 3 months

Gr. 1 (75th percentile)

3 years 4 months

7 years 2 months

Gr. 2 (65th percentile)

3 years 9 months

9 years 1 month

Gr. 3 (75th percentile)

5 years 8 months

12.1 years

Gr. 7 (70th percentile)


Curious to find out how we enabled our children to achieve such advanced reading skills at such young ages?

>> Learn more about our super simple, logical, sequential system of teaching reading, please click here to watch a short video explaining our methods.