Types of Tests for Dyslexia

Boy taking a dyslexia evaluation

At a Glance

  • Different tests for dyslexia look at different skills related to reading.
  • These include skills like decoding and reading comprehension.
  • Testing for dyslexia should be done as part of a full evaluation.If you think your child might have dyslexia, there’s only one way to know for sure. You’ll need to have him tested for dyslexia as part of a full evaluation. Testing for dyslexia will identify his specific areas of weakness in reading. (The evaluator should also test for other language and processing issues that might be at play.)

    Here are examples of skills a test for dyslexia may assess:

    • Phonological awareness
    • Decoding
    • Reading fluency and comprehension
    • Rapid naming

    When it comes to dyslexia tests, there is more than one test that can measure each skill. The exact test used will depend on the person doing the evaluation.

    Here are four types of tests that are given when evaluating for dyslexia, and examples of each type of test.

    Tests That Assess Phonological Awareness

    Example: Phonological Awareness (this is the name of the test, as well as the term for what the test measures)

    Similar tests include: Sound Blending subtest of the Woodcock–Johnson III (WJ III), Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes; NEPSY-II Phonological Processing subtest

What it measures: Your child’s ability to isolate and work with sounds.

Why it’s important: Trouble with phonological awareness is a key sign of dyslexia. That’s because phonological processing skills are the foundation for reading skills. So they’re a good predictor of the ability to read in young kids.

How it works: The evaluator asks your child to blend sounds and segment words. For example, your child might be asked to say what’s left of the word cat if you take out the first sound.

Or the evaluator might say “ba”…“anna” and ask your child to fill in the middle sound. Middle sounds are the most difficult. Younger kids are given easier words on the test. As kids get older the words have more syllables, and the difficulty increases.

Tests That Assess Decoding

Example: Test of Word Reading Efficiency-2 (TOWRE-2)

Similar tests include: Word Identification and Word Attack subtests of WJ III; Word Reading and Pseudoword Decoding subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test–Third Edition (WIAT-III)

What it measures: Your child’s ability to decode words quickly and accurately. It also tests his ability to recognize familiar words.

Why it’s important: Younger kids can appear to be reading at grade level when they’re really not. That may be because they’re memorizing words instead of applying the rules of phonics.

How it works: The evaluator has your child read aloud single real words and pseudowords (fake words). Fake words look like real ones but they have no meaning, such as hiff or migheron. Having to decode fake words tests your child’s ability to apply rules for matching units of sound to their written symbols in order to sound out words.

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