A Cloze test is a way to measure how difficult a text is to read.
Unlike the readability formulas included on this website
which measure reading difficulty using only the text itself,
a Cloze test requires that someone actually reads the text.
A Cloze test is performed by removing words from a text and replacing them with blank spaces.
A reader who is not familiar with the text then tries to fill in the missing words.
For example, here is a text with the words removed:
Lexical density is defined as _______________  number of lexical words divided ______________  the total number of words.
___________________  words are the kind which ________________  more information or meaning. More _____________________,  lexical words are simply nouns, ______________________,  verbs, and adverbs. Nouns tell ______________  the subject, adjectives tell us ________________  about the subject, verbs tell ______________  what they do, and adverbs ________________  us how they do it.
The percentage of answers the reader gets correct is the measure of how readable the text is.
The higher the percentage, the more readable the text.
Complexity vs. Comprehensibility
The readability formulas used on this website
(Gunning fog, Flesch-Kincaid, SMOG, Coleman-Liau, Automated, Fry, and Raygor)
are determined only by the text itself without anyone having to read it.
This is because these formulas measure only the complexity of a text
which can be calculated by considering such things as word lengths, sentence lengths,
syllable, counts, and so forth.
On the other hand, a Cloze test measures the comprehensibility of a text.
That is, readability is defined in terms of how understandable, or comprehensible, a
text is to an actual reader. Thus, this measure can change according to who reads the text.
To understand the difference between complexity and comprehensibility, let us consider an example.
Consider the following two sentences:
1) He wore a suit.
2) He filed a suit.
In terms of text complexity, both sentences are very simple. And not surprisingly,
their readability scores indicate they require only the most basic reading level
in order to read them.
If we shift the focus to comprehensibility, however, the story changes.
Certainly the first sentence is comprehensible to a young reader,
but the second sentence requires a more mature
reader in order to comprehend the full meaning of the text.
The Cloze test is a way to measure the comprehensibility of a text
and, as such, measures a much different aspect of readability.
Aside from having a reader actually read the text, the Cloze test requires that we have a
target audience in mind from the outset. This is because the result
of a Cloze test will not only vary from person to person, but also from one group to the next.
For example, a Cloze test for a newspaper article will see much lower scores in a school-age
population than an adult population. Thus, we must know our audience in advance.
Performing a Cloze Test
The methodology of a Cloze test depends on the purpose.
Some Cloze tests are created by removing certain kinds of words (for example, only nouns).
Other tests are created by removing words chosen by the person conducting the test.
Moreover, some Cloze tests are created for assessing the difficulty level of a text
while others are created with the purpose of student assessment in mind.
As this website is most concerned with giving its users tools to analyze their writing,
the most common way to determine the readability of a text for a target audience
is to remove every 5th word or every 6th word.
If more than 60% of the blanks are filled in
correctly by your sample of test takers from your target audience, then the text
is considered to be easy reading for your target audience.
If 40% to 60% of the blanks are filled in
correctly, then the text
is considered "instructional" reading for your target audience.
In other words, the text is right for an audience which is learning the material contained in the text.
If less than 40% of the blanks are filled in
correctly, then the text is considered difficult for your target audience.
The table below summarizes the above paragraph.
60% or above
40% or below
For a Cloze test to determine readability, we emphasize that the test should not be timed.
Furthermore, an incorrectly spelled response still counts as a correct reponse for the cloze test.
Test takers should be also encouraged to fill in every blank space even if that means guessing.
A Cloze test can be made easier by removing fewer words (by removing every 10th word, for example).
Conversely, removing more words makes the test more difficult (by removing every 3rd word, for example).
A common standard for the above methodology to apply is to remove every 5th word
or every 6th word.
Generating a Cloze Test
The reader may use this website to generate their own Cloze test on our
Our Cloze test generator allows you either to remove every nth word,
to remove words of your choice, or to randomly remove a fixed percentage of words.