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The Nelson Denny Reading Test ({YEAR} Guide)

The Nelson Denny Reading Test (2024 Guide)

What Is the Nelson Denny Reading Test?

The Nelson Denny Reading Comprehension Test measures silent reading ability, vocabulary and comprehension.

Created by two college professors in 1929, the test comprises two English sections:

  • Vocabulary
  • Reading comprehension

A supplementary subtest is sometimes used to measure reading rate.

On the day of the test, the duration of the standard NDRT is between 35 to 45 minutes, including instruction time.

A candidate's NDRT results can be used to convert a test-taker's reading ability into a grade-level equivalent score.

The NDRT is used for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To screen overall reading ability
  • To help place students in classes that are appropriate to their current reading level
  • To identify which students are most likely to be successful on their chosen study path
  • To measure progress in general reading skills or areas where improvement is required
  • By employers as part of the screening or recruitment process

The NDRT is a diagnostic test, so there is no minimum pass score. However, sometimes employers will specify a minimum score required to move forward to the next stage of the hiring process.

The NDRT is a popular tool in police recruitment, so it is often referred to as the Nelson Denny Police Test.

If you are applying to join the police force, you will likely be asked to take this test.

If you are asked to take the NDRT, your prospective school or employer will organize and administer it.

You may be asked to attend a test venue, although it is possible to complete the Nelson Denny Reading Test online, as long as you have the correct equipment and a good internet connection.

The NDRT cannot be used to diagnose specific reading difficulties or disorders. However, it can help to identify those students or employees who may require additional support or training.

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What Are the Sections of the Nelson Denny Reading Test?

Vocabulary Section

In the Vocabulary section you will be expected to answer 80 to 100 multiple-choice questions in a 15-minute timeframe. Each question has five possible answers.

Example Vocabulary Questions

Example Question

1. 'Belligerent' means:

a) Hostile
b) Uncomfortable
c) Garish
d) Boisterous
e) Jovial

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Example Question

2. An unscrupulous individual is usually:

a) Honest
b) Fair
c) Unethical
d) Unattractive
e) Conscientious

Example Question

3. A narcissist tends to be:

a) Self-centered
b) Empathetic
c) Considerate
d) Lazy
e) Wise

Reading Comprehension

In the Reading Comprehension section, you will be asked to study five to eight short extracts from high school and college literature. Each extract is around half an A4 page long.

Once you have read through the text, you will need to answer 36 to 38 multiple-choice questions.

You will be allowed 20 minutes to answer all of the questions.

This section of reading passages is designed to test your direct comprehension skills and your ability to make reasonable assumptions from the information provided.

For the reading comprehension questions, you will need to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Recall factual information
  • Analyze information
  • Summarize information
  • Draw conclusions from the information provided

Example Reading Comprehension Questions

Passage One

Governments are incredibly expensive to run. The federal government spends more than $200 billion every year, with state and local governments spending many more millions of dollars.

Around 35% of every dollar earned by American workers and businesses is used as taxes to help fund governments.

These figures give you some insight as to the cost of government-backed programs and services.

But what exactly is this money spent on?

During the early 1970s, the federal government spent between 75billionand75 billion and 85 billion annually on national defense.

Technology and space research accounted for another 3billionto3 billion to 4 billion, while veterans benefits racked up between 8billionand8 billion and 12 billion.

Interest incurred on the national debt was more than $20 billion every year, and many billions of dollars were needed to help states build highways, housing and community redevelopment initiatives.

Federal aid to education and manpower training cost more than $10 billion each year.

The costs of governments are relevant to every American citizen. As concerned citizens, we have a responsibility to ensure that governments spend our money wisely and for worthwhile purposes.

Example Question

1. The federal government is said to spend more than _______ per year.

a) 20billion<br>b)20 billion<br> b) 200 million
c) 200billion<br>d)200 billion<br> d) 75 billion
e) $500 billion

Example Question

2. Which federal program was not referred to within the text?

a) Research
b) Redevelopment
c) Housing
d) Retirement
e) Education

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Example Question

3. The most appropriate title for this passage would be:

a) Government Wastefulness
b) Federal Spending
c) Government Spending
d) National Debt
e) American Taxes

Passage Two

Calories burned daily are variable between individuals.

Bigger people tend to burn more fuel than smaller people since they have a larger body surface emitting heat.

People living in cold countries tend to use more calories than people living in hot climates, as they lose body heat much faster in the cold air around them.

People who work hard physically need more calories than people working in sedentary roles.

Most adults need between 2,000 to 3,500 calories per day. An active teenage boy can easily consume 4,000 calories per day.

A person working in a sedentary role might only need 15 calories per pound of body weight each day.

Example Question

1. What is required for hard physical work?

a) High-carb diet
b) High-fat diet
c) More calories
d) Low-carb diet
e) Low-fat diet

How to Pass Nelson Denny Test in 2021
How to Pass Nelson Denny Test in 2021

Passage Three

Theodor Seuss Geisul was born in 1902. A literary favorite for more than a centenary, Read Across America events are held every month to celebrate his birthday. Children all over the country take part by creating hats, making presentations and participating in read-aloud circles with some of Dr Seuss' famous books.

Who exactly was Dr Seuss? Did he have a medical degree? Where was his office located?

Theodor Seuss Geisul was not a medical doctor. His nickname became Dr Seuss following his success as a noted children's author because many people said his books were "as good as medicine."

The nickname stuck, and he became known as Dr Seuss worldwide.

Cast your mind back to your childhood. Did you ever fancy sampling "green eggs and ham"? Did you learn about the environment with a creature known as The Lorax? Most people remember one of Dr Seuss' best-loved characters, the Grinch who stole Christmas.

All of these stories were written by Dr Seuss, using his inimitable style of rhyming words and letters. Each book also included made-up words to enhance the rhyme scheme.

Dr Seuss' signature book was 'The Cat in the Hat'. In the early 1950s, there was significant concern that children in America were not interested in reading. Book publishers believed this to be because children found books dull.

A very intelligent publisher decided to send Dr Seuss a book of words that he believed all children ought to learn. Dr Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat using that list of words.

Over the decades, Dr Seuss' writing has positively impacted millions of young readers, so it is right that we celebrate his birthday every March.

Example Question

1. What can be inferred from the sentence "his books were 'as good as medicine'"?

a) His books helped to make people feel better
b) His books helped to bring down fevers
c) His books were popular in doctor's waiting rooms
d) His books tasted funny

Example Question

2. Why is the publisher in the final paragraph considered to be 'very intelligent?'

a) The publisher was able to read
b) The publisher was aware that children did not enjoy reading
c) The publisher knew that Dr Seuss would be able to create a book that young children would find engaging
d) The publisher knew that Dr Seuss would be able to create a book that would sell lots of copies

Example Question

3. The overall message conveyed within this passage is:

a) Dr Seuss' birthday was in March
b) Dr Seuss wrote books about fictional characters
c) Dr Seuss' books made a positive impact on the lives of many generations of children
d) Dr Seuss was not a medical doctor

How Is the Nelson Denny Reading Test Scored?

When taking the NDRT, there is no penalty for an incorrect answer.

If you are unsure of an answer, it is best to make an educated guess.

In the Vocabulary section, you can earn one point for each correct answer.

In the Reading Comprehension section, you can earn two points for each correct answer.

The number of questions you answer correctly will be converted into a number using the Nelson Denny score chart to work out your test score.

Your number represents the grade level appropriate to your reading skills.

For example, a score of 7.3 indicates the reading skill level of the third month of the seventh grade.

A score of 13.1 indicates the reading skill level of a college freshman in their first month.

How Many Times Can You Sit the Nelson Denny Reading Test?

In most cases, you will only be permitted to take the NDRT once, so it is important to do everything you can to achieve the best possible score.

Retaking the test is not usually an option, even if you did not perform to the best of your ability on your first attempt.

How to Prepare for the Nelson Denny Reading Test in 2024

Although the NDRT does not take long to complete, you will be expected to answer over 100 questions, so you need to be comfortable working under pressure.

Improving your speed and accuracy by working through past papers is one of the best ways to prepare for the NDRT.

Here are tips for test prep:

Step 1. Spend at Least Two Weeks Refreshing Your Vocabulary and Practicing Your Reading Comprehension Skills

You should also complete as many practice questions as possible, as this will help you to familiarize yourself with the format and improve your time management skills.

Step 2. Focus on Every Section of the Nelson Denny Exam

It is important to study all aspects, even if you already feel confident in them. Equally, you should not neglect those sections that you find difficult.

Step 3. Consider Purchasing a Study Guide, Exam Preparation Course or Flashcards

There are many Nelson Denny study guide websites, and you just need to find one that suits your personal study preferences. Many of these websites offer a free Nelson Denny practice test.

Step 4. Look After Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing in the Weeks Leading Up to the Test

Take some exercise, eat well, rest as much as possible and stay hydrated.

Step 5. It Is Vital to Take the Test When You Are Feeling Rested, Relaxed and Confident in Your Abilities

Avoid cramming the night prior to the test. It is best to have an early night so that you wake up on the day feeling refreshed and ready.

Step 6. Prepare Everything You Need to Take to the Test in Advance

The exact requirements vary, but you might be asked to bring a photo ID or your own stationery. You should also check what you are not allowed to bring, for example, you might be required to leave your cell phone outside of the exam room.

Step 7. Set Your Alarm and Allow Plenty of Time to Enjoy a Healthy, Balanced Breakfast

Choose wholesome and filling foods that will help you to feel energized.

Step 8. Allow Yourself Plenty of Time to Travel to the Test Venue

Aim to arrive 20 minutes early and build in time for unexpected delays, parking and visiting the bathroom before sitting the test.

Step 9. Dress Appropriately

It is best to wear layers, so you can easily remove something if you are feeling too warm inside the test venue.

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Final Thoughts

The NDRT is a popular diagnostic test that educational establishments and employers widely use.

The test does not take very long to complete, usually a maximum of 45 minutes.

However, you will usually only have one opportunity to take the test, so you should allow plenty of time for preparation.

Answering Nelson Denny practice test questions is a helpful way to become familiar with the test format and improve your time management skills.

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