Reading Proficiency Descriptors

Pre–Level 1
Although students scoring at Pre-Level 1 may have some limited reading skills in English, they have provided insufficient evidence that they possess the skills typical of Level 1 students.
Level 1

Students at Level 1 typically recognize most letters of the English alphabet and recognize a few sight words, especially those from the environment, such as common signs and words, phrases, or short sentences supported by pictures.

Sample Question

Level 2
Students at Level 2 typically are able to read brief prose composed of short, simple sentences related to everyday needs (e.g., numbers, street signs, short informational signs, simple instructions).

They can understand high-frequency structures, such as present, simple past, and simple future tenses. They usually understand some of the more common idioms and colloquial expressions.

Level 2 students can compare facts to make choices (e.g., making a purchase), and they may draw simple conclusions from their reading.

Sample Question

Level 3
Students at Level 3 typically can comprehend prose of several paragraphs on subjects within a familiar framework and with a clear underlying structure, and they can understand some main ideas in limited occupational or academic materials.

Level 3 students can read news items, basic business letters, simple technical materials, classified ads, school bulletins, and academic text excerpts, and they can comprehend multi-step directions. They can use the reading strategies of skimming, scanning, and predicting to locate information and to help structure their reading for a variety of purposes.

They can also use a variety of textual clues such as sentence connectors, transitions, and pronoun reference to comprehend the meaning and structure of a text.

Level 3 students sometimes understand the meanings of new words from context, sometimes distinguish between main and supporting ideas, and understand some common cultural references.

They can make some inferences and generalizations from what they read, though complex inferences may still be difficult for them to make. However, they can often read texts equal in difficulty to those read by students at a more advanced level, though with less consistent comprehension.

They possess some awareness of style and register.

Sample Question

Level 4
Students at Level 4 typically can read for many purposes at a relatively normal rate with increasing comprehension, and they can read materials that are increasingly abstract and grammatically complex.

They understand some hypothesis, argument, and opinion and can differentiate between fact and opinion in academic, as well as general, materials; they can interpret, make inferences and generalizations, relate ideas, and identify an author's prejudices or biases, tone, or mood. They can paraphrase an author's implicit meaning or main points.

Level 4 students have an emerging awareness of literary style. Materials they read accurately may include more complex newspaper articles, as well as some periodicals, academic texts, technical materials, and library reference materials.

Their reading exhibits a near-native speaker proficiency, but with less flexibility and a slower rate of comprehension.

Even these advanced students will experience some difficulty with unusually complex structures, with low-frequency idioms or colloquial language, and with obscure cultural references.

Sample Question