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    A 1995 study [1] found that junior high school students were able to recognize between 10,000-12,000 words, whereas college students were able to recognize between 12,000-17,000 words.

    While, which 10,000-12,000 words vary based on the individual, we can make assumptions about the recognizability of a word based on how common the word is. The more common a word is, the more likely an individual is to have been exposed to it, and thus the more likely that individual would be to recognize and understand the word. The Rare Scale is a linear scale based on word ranks from 10,000 - 20,000. A word with rank at or below 10,000 would be a 0% (thus considered common) on the rare scale, and a word with rank at or above 20,000 would be a 100% (thus considered rare) on the rare scale.

    The Rare Scale is meant to be a guide to identify possible problem words. Keep in mind common words may still be problematic as they may have an unusual definition in certain context. Such definitions may be less recognizable and thus capable of confusing the reader. On the other hand domain specific jargon can be both rare in general, and easily understood by a well versed audience on the given topic. Nevertheless, commonality is a reasonable approximation for how well a word may be understood by the general population.

    [1] E.B. Zechmeister, A.M. Chronis, W.L. Cull, C.A. D'Anna and N.A. Healy, Growth of a functionally important lexicon, Journal of Reading Behavior, 1995, 27(2), 201-212

    About the Difficult & Extraneous Word Finder

    The difficult & extraneous word finder helps you write clearly and concisely by identifying possible weak points in your prose, such as difficult words, adverbs and multiple hedge words.

    Difficult words may alienate or confuse readers who are not familiar with them. Article writers, and children's authors in particular may want to pay close attention to word choices. The "Long Words" and "Rare Words" tab can help you identify any words that may not be appropriate for your audience.

    When writing fiction it's generally advised to limit adverbs, as many adverb + verb combinations can be replaced by a better, more descriptive verb. Check the "Adverbs" tab to find any adverbs that may have slipped through unnoticed.

    Non-fiction, and scientific writers will want to pay attention to the number of hedge words used per claim. Hedge words are mitigating words that can show uncertainty, such as 'can', 'may' and 'indicates'. Multiple hedge words are redundant, may a passage unnecessarily wordy, and can convey the author is unsure of him or herself. The "Hedge Words" tab can help you find sentences with multiple hedge word groupings.

    The Difficult & Extraneous Word Finder may warn you about words and phrases you wish to keep. Simply click on the word in the corresponding tab to dismiss the warning.

    Resources utilized by the Difficult & Extraneous Word Finder

    Have your own website? Now you can use the Site Thin Content Checker to analyze the content of each page on your site with the Difficult & Extraneous Word Finder, as well as and other Writing Assistance Tools.