How to Use the Get Ready to Read! Screening Tool

This information is also available in: Spanish
This 20-question tool for 4-year-olds is quick and easy to use. It was developed by some of the country's top reading researchers and was designed to show where a child is on the path to developing pre-reading skills – whether a child's skills are weak, strong, or somewhere in between.

This tool is designed to screen a child twice during the year before kindergarten -- in the fall one year before the child enters kindergarten, and again the next fall before kindergarten begins, to measure the child's progress. Although you can get useful information about a child's skills anytime during the 4-year-old year, don't use the tool more than three times a year. Kids develop new skills gradually, and it's not designed to measure small changes.


Find a quiet time to work and set aside about 10-15 minutes to complete the screening tool.

Step 1: Sit next to the child in front of the computer screen. Give the child control of the mouse if he or she knows how to use it.

Step 2: The screening tool begins with a sample question. Use this question to make sure that the child knows what to do. Point to the pictures in the sample question and say to the child: "Let's look at some pictures. I will ask you a question about them, and you point to (or click on) the picture that is the best answer. Let's try one."

Step 3: Remember, read the statement aloud that appears at the top of the sample question slowly, clearly, and exactly as it is written on the screen. Ask the child to point to (or click on) the best answer. This is a sample question, so you may give hints and feedback only on this question to make sure the child understands the instructions.

Step 4: When you are confident that the child understands what to do, click on "start" at the bottom of the sample page to continue to the first question.

Step 5: Read the statement at the top of the page to the child exactly as it is written on the screen. You or the child should click on the picture that the child chooses as the answer. Click on "next" to continue to the next question. Continue in this way through all 20 questions.

Step 6: After the 20th question, click on the "Get Score" button to get the child's score. You may also download a PDF version of the answer sheet.

What Ifs

  • The child wants to stop?

    Say: "We have just a few more. Let's try to finish." If the child stops paying attention, take a short break. Start with the next unanswered item. If the child is not able to start again, restart the screening tool at the beginning a few days later.

  • The child asks for help?

    Say: "Try to do it yourself." You can repeat a question, but don't offer more help.

  • The child says the answer instead of pointing to or clicking on it?

    Say: "Can you show me? Put your finger on it."

  • The child points to more than one picture or changes an answer?

    Say: "Can you pick just one?" Choose the child's final answer.

  • The child asks if the answer is right?

    Give a vague answer: "You're doing a really good job." Respond the same way whether the answer is right or wrong.

  • The child answers too quickly, or points to the picture in the same position every time?

    Say: "Take your time. Look at all the pictures before you decide." The child may be tired. Take a short break.


Suggested Tip!

Be Ready for Reading

Bring a book to your child’s next doctor’s appointment to ease the wait.  And, leave a book where you keep your reusable shopping bags to make the shopping cart a rolling reading room
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