Concepts of Print Assessment

Adult showing young child about print awareness

An informal assessment of the concepts of print, including what the assessment measures, when is should be assessed, examples of questions, and the age or grade at which the assessment should be mastered.

All assessments should be given one-on-one.

What it measures

If a student understands:

  • That print has meaning
  • That print can be used for different purposes
  • The relationship between print and speech
  • There is a difference between letters and words
  • That words are separated by spaces
  • There is a difference between words and sentences
  • That there are (punctuation) marks that signal the end of a sentence
  • That books have parts such as a front and back cover, title page, and spine
  • That stories have a beginning, middle, and end
  • That text is read from left to right and from top to bottom

When should it be assessed?

Assess concepts of print twice during kindergarten, at the start of school and at mid-year. In addition, as you model story reading techniques to help guide instruction, identify students who need additional support, and determine if the pace of instruction should be increased, decreased, or remain the same.

Examples of assessment questions

Give the student a book and ask the following questions:

  • Can you show me:
    • a letter?
    • a word?
    • a sentence?
    • the end of a sentence (punctuation mark)?
    • the front of the book?
    • the back of the book?
    • where I should start reading the story?
    • a space?
    • how I should hold the book?
    • the title of the book?
    • how many words are in this sentence?

Age or grade typically mastered

Some students enter kindergarten with an understanding of print concepts, but other will master it as the school year goes on.

See also this concepts of print assessment from Michigan's Mission: Literacy.

Reading Rockets (2004)


You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected]


I am thankful for the information as I begin to teach two two year old family members.

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