Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Search by reading level

Filtering your search results by reading level is now built into Google search. 

To do this, just click on Advanced Search and then click on "Reading Level," this will then show the popup below.  

The option "Annotate results with reading levels" inserts a gray text indicating what our reading-level grader thinks that web page is at.  Note how the first two results are at very different levels of difficulty.  

You can, of course, select just the reading level you'd like to see:  Basic, Intermediate or Advanced.  

In this case, all the results are Basic. 

So... what's "Basic" versus "Intermediate" versus "Advanced"?  

The reading-level is based primarily on statistical models we built with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a model of the intrinsic complexity of the text. With this model, we can any webpage with the model to classify reading levels. We also used data from Google Scholar, since most of the articles in Scholar are considered advanced.

So the breakdown isn't grade- or age-specific, but reflects the judgments of teachers as to overall level of difficulty.  Roughly speaking, "Basic" is elementary level texts, while "Intermediate" is anything above that level  up to technical and scholarly articles, a la the articles you'd find in Scholar.  

That's not exact, but it's a fairly robust model that works across a wide variety of different text styles and web pages.  

Keep searching (basically, intermediately, or advancedly... your choice)! 


  1. I understand that the reading levels are determined by the teacher's classification of the websites, but what about those sites that are not classfied at all? Would the reading level be classified as basic in that case? What would be the default reading level for all sites thereof?

  2. Thank you for your article explaining how Reading Levels work. I just wrote my own blog entry showing how to use it, but had a teacher ask what does Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced actually mean. I linked back to your great post here and shared a little TL:DR version with them. Thank you for the work you do to help educators!

    My post linking to you: http://justincowen.weebly.com/google-everything/reading-levels-using-google