Early in my writing journey, I’ve come to my first dilemma for which I don’t have a clear answer, and not one I don’t think anyone can provide me with an answer, either. That dilemma is how much should I be reading to learn about writing styles? A lot? A little? Somewhere in between? What I like? What I don’t like? A mix of both? And what else?
The intentional reduction in the speed of reading, carried out to increase comprehension or pleasure.
The name is obvious for what it is. The impetus to do so in this day and age of hurrying through things, and slow reading’s benefits, are less obvious, as described in the TEDRadio Hour podcast below.
March 2016 Update
I have added a separate, but very detailed introversion / extraversion assessment from Scientific American magazine. This is the most confusing and misunderstood dimension of the four in the personality assessment below so you might want to try this Scientific American assessment to better understand yourself, and/or the concept of introversion / extraversion, itself, and possibly others with that better understanding.
January 2016 update
The personality assessment here is now available as a free iOS app in the iTunes App Store! (my version is an Excel spreadsheet that works like software)
Get a free, complete personality assessment via the personality typing system created by Carl Jung, popularized by personality assessments as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®)* and Keirsey Temperament Sorter® (KTS®). This assessment is neither the MBTI® nor the KTS® (both paid services), though it has the same objective to identify your personality type in Jung’s personality typing system. The questions are just slightly different from the KTS® to extract the most accurate answers from users so you can get the truest results for yourself.
Why is method so important?
All the personality assessments mentioned above rely on how honestly you answer questions about yourself. They are only as good as you can be honest about yourself. Unfortunately, being honest about ourselves is something we are all challenged with to some extent in life. We all have biased self-perception, misconception or ignorance of our nature, or inconsistent understandings of what it means to be something. To overcome that, the questions in the assessment here ask about common real life situations so people can recall how they reacted rather than theorizing how they would react. What people say and do can often be very different! Cultural biases, obscure expressions, words with stigmas or noble connotations, and the like, have also been minimized.
Why do this assessment or do it again?
Ultimately, you’d do this assessment to get an objective view of your personality, what you are generally like in life and how you interact with others of differing personalities. The assessment cover situations at work and play, in various types of relationships and general life, and interactions with all other personality types in Jung’s system.
A side reason, possibly funner and more practical reason, is to see how you compare with anyone else who has taken a version of this, MBTI® or KTS®… or can be persuaded to take one by you. You can even compare yourself to famous people and fictional characters who might have never taken the assessment! Jung’s personality typing system is actually a theory so experts have been able to type people who have never taken the assessments based on their known actions (not words).
If you’ve done MBTI® or KTS® some years before, you might want to try “it” again as people change over time. This is truer if they have lived through life changing events like marriage, children, trauma or otherwise.
Downloads for the personality assessment tool
There are two Excel files for download here, in which you can answer the questions to get your personality type identified and assessed. One file is a modified KTS® assessment with the “best” questions, in my opinion, from KTS® versions I and II. The other is the same assessment with very basic English or “plain language” for people not completely fluent in English. Theoretically, you should get the same result doing either assessment.
- Based on the best Jungian personality assessment tool available, in my opinion, developed by David Keirsey in his classic books Please Understand Me and Please Understand Me II.
- Version here is a “best of” KTS® versions I and II, using questions I thought would elicit most honest answers from most users. KTS-II® is used by the KTS site.
- Questions ask about real life situations, not abstract concepts like preferred words.
- Does not ask for absolute answers, but rather preferences.
- Has been extensively used around the world. Claims to be most popular personality assessment in the world and Web traffic seems to indicate that, but MBTI® is probably most well-known from its longer history (close to 50 years).
- Has flaws of challenging language, cultural bias, references and expressions which may be challenging to those not fluent in English or have low literacy.
- Mostly uses questions from the “best of” Modified KTS® version above, for the reasons that make it excellent.
- Language is simplified so those for whom English is a foreign language, or those with low grade reading levels, can do the assessment and do it accurately. This is actually an excellent ESL or EFL class exercise!
- Idioms or expressions are minimized.
- Terms with cultural bias, like noble or stigmatized words, are eliminated.
Doing the Personality Assessment (Fig 1)
Please refer to Figure 1 above.
- There are 74 multiple choice questions to the test.
- Just put A or B in the boxes beside each question.
- You can’t select any cells besides those so no worries about messing up the file.
- If you put anything besides A or B, the file will tell you to do otherwise.
Getting your Results Summary (Fig 2)
After you have entered an acceptable answer for all 74 questions, click on the RESULTS tab near the bottom left of the window to get your results.
The file tabulates your scores so there are no mistakes, and gives you a summary as shown above.
Click Print and it will print out all on one page automatically, if you want a print out.
Your Results Summary and Full Assessment (Fig 3)
Your results summary is just a brief part of your full assessment. There are multiple PDF files available with tens of pages of content for you to consider if you so wish.
* MBTI and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are trademarks or registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., in the United States and other countries.
With each entry, I check its Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level to determine the grade level of education someone needs to get a good understanding of it from my writing style. If it’s above grade 12, I work it down to make it easier to read and improve my writing skills.
Before I get into the value of grade reading level, let me just say grade reading level is how easy something is to read, not necessarily understand. I could explain quantum mechanics to you using Dr Seuss’ language style, for example, and it would be easy to read since single syllabic words and short sentences with few subordinate clauses are used. However, trying to understand quantum mechanics taught to you that way? Good luck. Similar things can be said about a lot of poetry.
So why do I test my writing with Flesch-Kincaid?
It’s not because I think my readers are stupid. However, no matter at what level you read, if I can make it easier for you, I can make it more efficient and likely enjoyable for you. As well, I’m doing it to help myself by developing better communication skills.
My free thoughts are often unnecessarily big and convoluted, typical of a strong Myers-Briggs iNtuitive personality type that I am. I can focus to organize and truncate them, but it is not natural to me. Knowing from the start of each entry that my writing will be put through a readability test before posting has really helped me focus. In less than a month, I’ve gone from grade 16 first drafts (university degree level) to grade 10 so I don’t have to edit most drafts for readability. I haven’t chosen easier topics. I’m simply writing better! I’ve kept my words and sentences shorter, as well as employed some other plain language and effective writing techniques I will discuss in future posts. Writing at high school grades 10-12 level has almost become natural to me now!
But isn’t grade 10-12 reading level a little insulting to the readers?
Not if you knew the average adult in America reads at a grade 8-9 level!
(Check Q9 of Pfizer Quiz)
“Adult Literacy in America (NALS)” National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (NCES 1993-275), April 2002.
Or that one in seven adult Americans (32 million) have such low literacy skills they cannot adequately read and understand a newspaper story, anything more difficult than a children’s picture book or a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle.
(USA Today, Jan 9 2008; US Federal study)
Even at the level I am allowing myself to blog at, grades 10-12, the average American can’t functionally read what I’m saying! Is that any way to try to draw an audience?
Some may say blog readers are smarter than the average person, or at least have better reading skills. They may be forgiven for that. After all, blog readers are reading to start with so they not only need reading skills, they are improving them. Still, that’s disrespectful to push your readers’ limits when you can push yours the other way to be a little mindful and write simpler. Content is ultimately key to a blog’s success, but while I have seen lots of tips and articles on subject matter and organization and such, I’ve hardly found anything on grade reading level. In fact, I didn’t. I came up with the idea to check my writing’s grade reading level since I am not the greatest of writers. I only did the search after this post and added these references in having been surprised.
Now, I’m sure all my readers are brilliant, smile, but that’s no excuse for me to test them each time out. I want my readers to enjoy the experience of reading my writing and to understand it with as little effort and time as possible. The easiest way to do this, though not the most impacting way like subject matter and narrative style, is to reduce the grade reading level required to understand your blog entries. The simplest way to check may just be to use a Flesch-Kincaid grade reading level script.
How do I get an entry’s Flesch-Kincaid grade reading level?
I use the University of Texas’ TxReadability website. I just copy all my post text and paste into a box at the link above, checking off the Text Only choice before clicking Analyze. Just for my blogging purposes alone, I’m going to use that site so much they should at least give me a link!
The TxReadability site also has a different option. It uses the Forcast Readability Formula to gauge the readability of an entire web page, accounting for words that do not belong in a sentence. Just provide the test with a website’s URL. Fun to test out with some of your favourite sites, that’s for sure! Here are some I either use a lot or have chosen to compare, from content present on the evening of Jan 6 2009.
- Yahoo! Canada (ca.yahoo.com) = 8.2
- Dalhousie University (dal.ca) = 12
- NFL (nfl.com) = 11.1
- CNN (ccn.com) = 10.8
- Globe & Mail Newspaper (theglobeandmail.com) = 10.7
- CBC (cbc.ca) = 11.3
Endless fun from scrutiny, no doubt! How’s about the NFL site being more challenging to read than CNN? Are American football fans that smart? 🙂
What grade level do you blog at?
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0 (Cha-CHING!!!)