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Free «Literacy Assessment» Essay Sample

For the purpose of my literacy assessment, I have chosen a pamphlet on Affordable Medical Care offered at the Free Clinic of the New River Valley. This pamphlet is given to parents who does not have insurance and also have been struggling to get medical care for their children as well as themselves. The pamphlet gives a general overview of the Affordable Medical Care given at the Free Clinic with some affordable cost information. This is one of the pamphlets which the nurse uses most often for parents/guardians who do not have health insurance.

To begin the technique of literacy assessment, I initially counted the number of sentences in the pamphlet. The total number of sentences determines the technique of assessment. The total number of sentences in the document was twenty- three. The twenty-three sentence count included information that was not in complete sentences as well as complete sentences. Since this pamphlet has less than 30 sentences, I used the Simplified Measure of Gobbledyggok (SMOG) for Shorter Passages (J. David Cooper, 2010).



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By using the SMOG for shorter passages, I deliberated the literacy level for Affordable Medical Care offered at the Free Clinic of the New River Valley pamphlet to be 9th grade. To do this, I followed the steps used in the SMOG for Shorter Passages. First, I counted 32 polysyllabic words in the complete pamphlet. This included all numbers which had three or more syllables when read out loud and phone numbers as polysyllabic words. Secondly, I counted 23 sentences. I divided 32 by 23 and found the average number of polysyllabic words per sentence, which was approximately 1.39. I subtracted the total number of sentences, 23, from 30, which gives 7 sentences. Then the result (7) was multiplied by the average number of polysyllabic words per sentence of 1.39. The result is approximately 5.61. The result found in

the last step was added to the total number of polysyllabic words of 32, which results in 37.61. The square root of this is 6.13. Three plus 6.13 results in a grade level that is around 9th grade reading level. From class lecture the SMOG is accurate “to within plus or minus 1.5 grade levels” (Shara, 2011, p.4). Therefore, the approximated reading level range according to the SMOG for Shorter Passages is roughly

To validate these outcomes I used Microsoft word 2007 so I could run a Flesch-Kincaid analysis (Appendix A). The reading level obtained by the Flesch – Kincaid analysis included in Microsoft Word was 6.4, which is equivalent a 6th grade reading level. The Flesch-Kincaid formula considers the total number of syllables in the document rather than calculating the proportion of polysyllabic words, that’s the reason for the variation of the two results.

The pamphlet has a white background with dark blue text. Every graphics used on the pamphlet has the same color as the text. The blue color has enough depth of color that contrasts well against the while background. There is enough white space in the pamphlet such that the test and graphics do not overload. The pictures used in the pamphlet could have been in different color rather than the color used for the text which is blue. The font size appears to be 12 to16 point font for most of the document, which makes the readability suitable for the community (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2010).

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The Graphic design and overall layout is suitable for the target community. The pictures and graphics are used in such a way that the general effect is bright. Nevertheless, the pamphlet could have used more colorful graphics on the empty spaces rather than similar color as the text.

To better engage the target community, the pamphlet should be re-worded such that there are fewer polysyllabic words. At this moment, the number of polysyllabic words has resulted in a 9th grade reading level as estimated by the SMOG. For those in certain populations or circumstance known to be associated with illiteracy, materials should be written at a 4th to 6th grade reading level (Shara, 2011, p.5).

In the pamphlet there are a few city names which I believe the target population is most likely to have an understanding of the names. There are a few sentences where the polysyllabic words could be rephrased to enhance the readability level of the pamphlet. Underneath is a table of sayings that are in the pamphlet containing polysyllabic words with suggestions for house they can be reworded.



When you do not have health insurance . . .

When you do not have health care

It costs $3.00 for a prescription

It costs $3.00 for drugs


Drug store

A doctor and nurse will talk to you and help you get the medical care or money for doctor visits and medicine.

A doctor and nurse will talk to you and help you get the health care or money for doctor visits and drugs.

Affordable medical care

Cheaper health care

Carilion health system Montgomery Regional Hospital

Carilion health system Montgomery Local Hospital

After reconsiderations of some of the words in the sentences, the reading level as estimated by SMOG for Shorter Passages is 8.1 or the 8th grade reading level, which I believe is more suitable for the target population.

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Moreover, I had a discussion with the school nurse about the literacy level of the pamphlet, at the time I did not have the result for the SMOG for Shorter Passages, but we have discussed about the font size of the pamphlet as well as the graphic designs. She asked me if I could show her my revised analysis and full assessment after I have received comments from my professor.

In a nutshell, I evaluated the Affordable Medical Care pamphlet using the SMOG for Shorter Passages. I have tried to give suggestions on both the readability and pamphlet design in terms of their suitability for the target community. I gave specific suggestion on how to decrease the number of polysyllabic words and increase readability.


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