Author - Nina Cordoba
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9/1/2020 9:56:49 PM

Quick Phonics Assessment

Note for parent:

If you haven't read the post: Teaching Reading the Right Way, please go there first.

Look at the key at the bottom of this assessment before you test your child so you know what you're looking for. The student should either breeze through these quickly and correctly OR pause and sound them out correctly. If the student can't get nearly every word correct in a section, start on the Explode the Code book that goes with that section.

Most kids who have already been to school, know the consonant sounds well. (Consonants are all of the letters other than a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. ) If your child is learning from scratch or doesn’t know D says “duh” or V says “vuh,” for instance, start him on Explode the Code Books A, B, and C that come before Book 1.

Instructions for parent:

Point to each word and wait for the student to pronounce it, then move on to the next word. Do not try to coach your child during this assessment. Let him/her answer, then point to the next word. You can use this online or copy onto a Word.doc and print it out. (Answer key is below the assessment.)

Read aloud to child:

“Most of the words below are not real words, but I want you to pretend they are and pronounce them like you would if you saw them while you were reading.”



Group I:

 dat              det              dit               dot              dut

 vat              vet              vit                vot               vut

 jat               jet               jit                 jot               jut

 kat               ket               kit                kot              kut



 Group 2:

flab              fleb             flib               flob             flub


glab             gleb             glib              glob             glub


clab             cleb             clib              clob             club


dram           drem           drim            drob            drub


snamp        snemp        snimp         snomp        snump


balp             belp            bilp              bolp            bulp


 Group 3a:

 pate            pete            pite             pote            pute


bate            bete            bite             bote            bute


jate             jete             jite               jote             jute


vate            vete            vite              vote            vute



Group 3b:


peat            poat            pait             peet


deat            doat            dait             deet


leat              loat             lait               leet


veat             voat            vait              veet



Parent key:

An older child who has a solid foundation in phonics will breeze through nearly all of these correctly, despite the fact that most are not real words. A younger child who has learned phonics may need to stop and sound them out more slowly, but, if he pronounce nearly all of them correctly, he knows phonics. If a child misses 3 in a section, I'd start with the appropriate book for that section (see below) to make sure the information is solidly planted in her brain.


*Helpful hint: If you were not taught to read phonetically or if English is not your first language, you can go to, type in the words below (for example, type in “cat,”) and click on the speaker symbol to hear the pronunciation. **And please teach your kids to use online Dictionaries and Thesauruses so they are empowered to make themselves smarter whenever they want to. Apps are also available for your phone.


Group 1 contains only short vowel sounds. When your child pronounces these, each word in column 1 should rhyme, each word in column 2 should rhyme, etc.

Below are the real rhyming words to compare with in each column.


cat               bet              bit               cot               cut


If your child is pronouncing some vowels short and some long (or any other way), he hasn’t learned phonics, probably because he wasn’t taught phonics at all or, at least, not in the best way. Start on Explode the Code, Book 1.


Group 2 contains consonant combinations. Make sure the child is pronouncing both consonants together in each word, like “flab,” for instance, not “fab,” or “lab.”

The vowels should all have the short vowel sound like the words in Group 1 above.            

If your child is not pronouncing the consonant combinations correctly but is still pronouncing the vowels right, then start with Explode the Code Book 2.

 If your child changes the pronunciation of the vowels from short to long, once the new consonants are added, start with Explode the Code, Book 1 to make sure she really understands the rules.

Group 3a contains long vowel “words” that are made long by the silent E at the end.

 When your child pronounces these, each word in Column 1 of Group 2 should rhyme with the first column below, Column 2 should rhyme, with column 2 below etc.


date            mete           site              dote            lute


If he pronounces the vowels short or some short and some long, start on Explode the Code, Book 3.


Group 3b contains long vowel “words” that are made long by having a silent second letter. Here are the real words that your child’s answers should rhyme with:


                       beat            boat            wait             feet

If she pronounces the vowels short or some short and some long, start on Explode the Code, Book 3.


If your child breezes through all the groups of words on the assessment, start him on Explode the Code, Book 4. It gets into two syllable words in a way that breaks them down and makes them easier to figure out. Also, much of the content in Books 4-8 may not be taught specifically, even if your child’s school is teaching some phonics.


Note: If you are teaching a younger child, he or she may not be ready for the last few books yet.


Another Note: Learning phonics doesn’t need to be a painful process. These books are super user friendly. With my daughter, I kept them in the car where she had nothing to do. She would happily pick them up and start working as I drove from one place to another. With the kids I tutored, I kept it light. Getting something wrong was no big deal. Getting things right was awesome. Try putting a snack in front of a restless or tired child to see if you can get more work time out of him. (My daughter and stepson both appreciated it when they were doing homework and a plate of sliced apples appeared in front of them.)


Feel free to post questions in comments or email me at

Other education blog posts published or currently in the works as of 9/2/2020:

-READ THIS FIRST: Educating Your Child at Home

-READ THIS SECONDGetting the Most from Your Child

-Reading: Teaching Reading the Right Way

-Reading: Quick Phonics Assessment (This post)

-Where Can I Find Learning Materials for my Preschool or Elementary School Student?

-Creating Real-life "Opportunity Learning" Moments

-Preparing Your Infant and Toddler for Success

Copyright 2020 Nina Cordoba

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