The Ultimate Guide to Dyslexia Testing

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Dyslexia on June 27, 2022
Dyslexia is commonly diagnosed at different ages. Learn more about when to test for dyslexia and the various types of assessments available.

    As a learning disability, dyslexia primarily hinders one’s ability to read and spell words correctly and fluently. Dyslexic people struggle with early literacy, phonological awareness, verbal processing speed, and verbal memory. People of all cognitive abilities can struggle with reading and writing.

    This article gives you a guide on dyslexia testing, its importance, and when to do it.

    Characteristics of dyslexia

    The base definition of dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with reading disability mirrored in problems with word recognition, spelling, and/or reading fluency.

    Dyslexia is defined mainly by the following issues:

    • Having trouble correctly reading (or sounding out) unknown words (poor decoding);
    • Lack of fluency, manifested by a sluggish, shaky, or inaccurate oral reading (a poor reading rate);
    • The inability to spell words correctly, even common ones, or the difficulty in learning to spell (poor spelling);
    • Difficulties with rapid automatized naming (RAN)
    • Challenges with different aspects of phonological awareness, such as phoneme segmentation

    Even if a person is fluent in speaking and listening, their reading comprehension may suffer if they have moderate to severe reading difficulties, such as difficulty decoding or having a limited ability to read quickly.

    The following can be seen in psychological evaluations as major causes of these typical dyslexia challenges:

    • Poor ability to recognize and manipulate the individual phonemes and syllables in spoken words, known as phonological awareness
    • Poor mastery of phonics fundamentals, such as letter recognition and name learning
    • Problems with phonological or working memory (remembering and using information about sounds and words)
    • Impaired ability to quickly name common things, colors, numbers, or letters

    Dyslexia has long been referred to as a “hidden disability.” Thanks to the recent increased awareness of the disorder, and its impact on children’s and adults’ quality of life, those diagnosed with dyslexia now have access to individualized education programs, various dyslexia resource guides, progress monitoring, reading development through specialized courses, and similar.

    Why get tested for dyslexia?

    The most frequent cause of reading difficulty in intelligent people is dyslexia; proper testing is crucial to get access to remediation, special education programs, ieps, and other tools that support student learning and help fight reading problems.

    Getting tested for dyslexia should be done for the following reasons:


    A thorough analysis pinpoints the likely origin of the issue. It analyzes whether the student profile of strengths and weaknesses fits the diagnosis of dyslexia and rules out other prevalent reasons for reading difficulties.

    Planning an RTI/early intervention

    A strong evaluation produces a targeted corrective program.

    The student’s level of reading skill impairment should be the starting point of building a customized teaching program for a child’s specific learning disability rather than the student’s grade level.


    A good evaluation traces the past development of a student’s learning handicap and their overall literacy skills. The evaluation of applicants for special services, such as special education, is one of the purposes of this documentation.

    The documentation is also necessary for dyslexic learners to score eligibility for high school and college accommodations, college entrance examinations (ACT, SAT), or work-related benefits.

    Young children who may have reading difficulties can be identified before they become at risk of facing irreversible reading problems and, with that, self-esteem issues.

    What do dyslexia assessments evaluate?

    The appointed clinician (screener) doing an assessment with your child will use their understanding of dyslexia to make a diagnosis and determine if your child has dyslexia.

    Specifically, the evaluator needs to show that the respondent has a relatively weak grasp of phonology by establishing a reading problem. There needs to be a careful synthesis of all the clinical data that can be found before a diagnosis of dyslexia is made.

    A typical evaluation will include:

    • A detailed history of the child’s language development, overall language skills and any attention-related difficulties
    • A detailed account of the child’s educational history
    • Evaluation of word reading precision (untimed tests of reading individual words and nonsense words)
    • Evaluation of oral reading fluency (timed measures of reading individual words and nonwords as well as timed measures of reading connected text)
    • Evaluation of phonological process (blending and pulling apart individual words into their basic individual sounds)
    • Evaluation of spelling, reading difficulties, linguistic skills, letter-sound understanding, oral language, sight words, word recognition, etc.
    • Evaluation of mathematics, including word puzzles and computations
    • General cognitive evaluation, including verbal and nonverbal ability, auditory capacities, phonemic awareness, and similar
    • Letter naming progression, i.e., assessing children’s knowledge of letters. Letter naming is there to establish a child’s learning status on a set of basic skills in alphabet awareness that contribute to the complex process of learning to read. (alphabet is used for English learners)

    Aside from the clinician’s knowledge, the assessment should be based on your child’s history and family history, observations, their grasp of written language, understanding of reading instruction, and results of evidence-based psychometric testing.

    Standardized tests done through special education services often extend to two days, with four to five hours of testing per day.

    When to test for dyslexia?

    Early identification of dyslexia is crucial and should be done before the literacy challenges result in reading failure. Universal screening in their first two years of general education will identify those kids at risk for dyslexia and allow for early intervention with young children.

    According to research, early intervention is more successful and reduces damage to self-esteem and motivation. Screening is possible as early as pre-kindergarten, but the optimal time to test is in the first school year, at age 5.

    Who can diagnose dyslexia?

    Testing for dyslexia should be done by a licensed screener who can be a language pathologist, school psychologist, an educational psychologist with a license, a diagnostic specialist, a specialist in learning disabilities, or a specialist dyslexia teacher with the right qualifications.

    How much does testing cost?

    Depending on the number of sessions necessary to complete it, the cost of a dyslexia evaluation and accurate diagnostic assessment could range from $1,500 to $5,000. Grants and other forms of government assistance should be available for those who apply to get dyslexia assessments at public schools. 

    To demonstrate the eligibility of your child or student for special education, you will be typically required to fill out a formal report.

    Online assessments for dyslexia

    Online testing is one of the most accurate and affordable ways to diagnose dyslexia. Use only secure servers when taking an exam online, if necessary.

    These discreet and private online screening tests are available for you or a loved one to use to learn more about learning strengths and weaknesses and the severity of symptoms.

    You won’t have to provide any identifying information to complete this exam; answers are kept confidential.

    Helpful resources for dyslexics

    The Speechify team is aware of the necessity for high-quality resources in looking to address learning disabilities and difficulties with listening comprehension.

    We are here to help communities better serve students who have visual, auditory, and oral impairments and problems. We achieve this by providing our top-notch text-to-speech software and making resource recommendations.

    Here are a couple of resources in the English language you may find useful:


    With Speechify’s assistance, you can take a free dyslexia assessment test and get in touch with a certified expert in your area. With its first screen, only Speechify avoids the standard “get to know you” inquiry. Instead, it links you up with a local expert screener so you can go through a number of diagnostic procedures.

    For a more engaging listening experience, you may also utilize Speechify to convert printed books into audiobooks.

    The International Dyslexia Association

    Each year, thousands of people get publications, information, and referral services from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Thousands of researchers, doctors, parents, teachers, psychologists, educational therapists, and dyslexics attend its yearly conference. To learn more, go to and visit IDA.

    Spotting and classifying learning disabilities (whether we’re talking ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, or similar) and developing effective treatments are slow processes. You’ll need system knowledge to get your kid the early intervention they need. However, once you do get help, dyslexia can and will become just a thing your child lives in and is in control of.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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