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Child Cognition, Language and Neuropsychology -

Graded Nonword Reading Test
Margaret Snowling, Susan Stothard and Janet McLean, 1996

Identify reading difficulties associated
 with impaired phonological skills

Age Range:
5 to 11 years

Individual - 5 minutes

At its most simple, reading can be sub-divided into aspects of decoding (translating print to sound) and of comprehension. The inability to develop proficient decoding skills is an obstacle to the development of literacy. A test of decoding skill is therefore an essential part of any battery of reading tests. 

There are many tests of reading available and therefore an obvious question is why introduce one which involves reading nonsense? There are at least two ways in which to read a printed word. The first involves recognising the word visually and relating its meaning to its pronunciation (‘look-mean-say’). The second involves pronouncing the word by a process of letter sound translation (‘phonics’). 

Some children (and some neurological patients) can read words visually, and this may mask an underlying phonological reading problem. Such children will have great difficulty in working out novel printed words - that is, those for which they do not have a visual memory. Asking children to read nonwords that they have not seen before provides a pure test of phonological decoding and therefore is to be recommended. 

Research strengths 

This test has been developed on the basis of some 20 years research with children who have reading difficulties. The test has been standardized on more than 600 children in the age bands of 5 to 11 years. It has high internal and test-retest reliability, and it correlates well with performance on other standardized reading tests in the normal population. 

Clinical strengths 

The GNWRT can be used diagnostically when setting up educational programmes. The test will be useful with normally developing children as a quick reading test, as well as with children who have special needs. 

Available Products


Complete kit: Includes manual, 100 scoring sheets and stimulus book
Additional copies of materials:
Scoring sheets, pack of 100