Nelson-Denny Practice Test: Free Sample Questions & Answers 2024
Shir Enzer

Shir, Nelson-Denny Expert at JobTestPrep.

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Table of Contents


What is the Nelson-Denny Test (NDRT)?

The Nelson-Denny Test assesses your overall reading ability and comprehension skills. The test includes five to eight reading passages with related comprehension questions drawn from diverse and, at times, unrelated subjects to measure your general reading ability.

Furthemore, the assessment includes multiple reading comprehension questions and comprehension passages but notably splits into two subtests: vocabulary and comprehension subtests, featuring at least seven reading passages and comprehension passages drawn from current textbooks.

The Vocabulary section of the test consists of 80 multiple-choice questions, while the second subtest, Comprehension, involves short passages comprehension with 38 multiple-choice questions

Free Nelson Denny Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Practice Questions

Vocabulary Subtest

Before answering the Nelson Denny Vocabulary questions, go over our 10 Words Table. Read the word's definitions and look at examples of how to use each word in a sentence. Next, close the table and answer the three vocabulary questions about the words you just learned.

Words Table

Sample Question 1 - Vocabulary

1. What is the meaning of the word Deplorable?

A. Disgraceful.

B. Gain.

C. Disdain.

D. Bankrupt



The meaning of the word Deplorable is disastrous, and disgraceful.

💡 The Nelson Denny Vocabulary section is comprised of 80 to 100 items to be answered in 15 minutes or 9 seconds per question.

Sample Question 2 - Vocabulary

2. What is the meaning of the word Derision?

A. Cease.

B. Autocratic.

C. Disdain.

D. Desolation.

E. Collapse. 


The meaning of the word Derision is contempt, disdain, and laughter.

💡 There are a total of 300 words you need to memorize for the Nelson Denny exam.

Sample Question 3 - Vocabulary

3. What is the meaning of the word Desist?

A. Cease.

B. Autocratic.

C. Distinct.

D. Desolation.

E.  Dim.



The meaning of the word desist is quit, cease, relinquish.

Improve your skills with more Vocabulary type questions by purchasing the full Nelson-Denny preparation. 

Reading Comprehension Subtest

Reading comprehension practice questions will help you work on your English language skills, reading skills, and speed reading skills. Challenge yourself with the following sample questions to see how well you do as many comprehension questions.

Sample Question 4 - Reading Comprehension

4. When smokers viewed a scene that included smoking, they showed greater activity in those parts of the brain involved in perception and the coordination of actions—the areas known to interpret and plan hand movements—as though they, too, were about to light a cigarette. This activity also corresponded to the hand that the volunteer used when smoking. Non-smokers showed no such enhancement.

Does watching smoking on screen motivate smoking?

A. Yes.
B. No.
C. Only among smokers.
D. Cannot say.


The correct answer is (D).

The passage describes certain changes in brain activity when smoking is watched on screen. However, it makes no mention of motivation. Therefore, it is impossible to say whether watching smoking on screen motivates this habit.


💡 Expect five to eight Nelson Denny Reading passages and between 36 to 38 questions that will test your reading comprehension skills.

Sample Question 5 - Reading Comprehension

5. The first bacterial genome was sequenced in 1995 — a triumph at the time, requiring 13 months of work. Today researchers can sequence the DNA that constitutes a micro-organism’s genome within a few days or even, with the latest equipment, a day. (Analyzing it takes a bit longer, though.) They can simultaneously get sequences of all the microbes on a tooth or in saliva or in a sample of sewage. And the cost has dropped to about $1,000 per genome, from more than $1 million.

Tracing DNA sequences nowadays is:

A. More expensive.

B. A longer process.

C. Cheaper and faster.

D. Not possible.


The correct answer is (C).

According to the first sentence, sequencing the first bacterial genome took 13 months. The second sentence tells us that today it can be done "withiin a few days or even, with the latest equipment, a day." So, tracing DNA sequence is definitely faster nowadays. Is it also cheaper? Yes, the last sentence in the passage notes that "the cost has dropped to about $1,000 per genome, from more than $1 million."

As for the other answers, we know it is not more expensive (Answer A), it is not a longer process (B), and it is definitely possible (Answer D).



💡 The time frame for this portion of the NDRT is 20 minutes or 30 seconds per answer choices.

 Sample Question 6 - Reading Comprehension

6. In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was also starting to prosper in Hawaii. In 1893, a group of American immigrants and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines have overthrown Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate.In March 1959, the U.S. government approved its statehood, and in June the Hawaiian people voted by a wide majority to accept admittance into the US.

Approximately how many years passed between the first American visit to Hawaii to US admittance?

A. 130.
B. 250.
C. 65.
D. 180.


The correct answer is (B).

The answer appears in two different parts of the passage. According to the first sentence, "In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii." So this was the first American visit. The last sentence states that "In March 1959, the U.S. government approved its statehood" – that is, admittance to the United States of America. We don't know the exact date of the first visit, but we know it was around 1700. So approximately 250 years passed between the first visit and Hawaii’s admittance.



Challenge yourself with more Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension questions.



Answer Index

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How is the Nelson-Denny Reading Test Scored?

The Nelson-Denny Test considers an initial raw score (the number of questions you answered correctly) that then turns into index scores or grade-level scores.

The purpose of this conversion is to show through specific standards how your reading abilities compare to the expected levels at different education levels. 

Consider, for instance, that a score of 9.8 will put your reading capabilities on par with ninth grade students' results, while a 13.2 score means that your reading proficiency aligns with the reading rate score of a freshman in their second month of college.

💡Note: this is a test that you cannot pass or fail! The NDRT has no set passing score since it mainly diagnoses and compares results to identify reading levels. 

Useful Preparation Tips

  • Perform A Thorough Vocabulary Review: To get a high score in the vocabulary subtest, you first need to familiarize yourself with a large number of vocabulary words that are most likely to appear on the test. 
  • Practice Your Reading Comprehension: Constant practice with as many comprehension passages as possible helps you grasp the main arguments and information to improve your speed and accuracy.
  • Understand the Format: Getting comfortable with the test format can be achieved through tailored exercises and preparation materials that resemble the actual test, such as self-scorable answer sheets and test booklets.

💡What makes the test difficult is that you only have 35 minutes to answer 128 question, resulting in 16 seconds per question. An optimal score requires you to manage your time effectively during the actual test.

Ace Your Preparation with our Nelson-Denny PrepPack

As you work through test sample questions, you will refresh your vocabulary and gain a greater comfort level with the process of reading passages, recalling information, and drawing conclusions from written material.

Applicants wishing to get a high score need to read as many passages and answer as many comprehension questions as they can. Access more Nelson-Denny Practice tests and additional prep materials to become as prepared as possible!


Is the Nelson-Denny Reading Test Hard?

Yes, the questions on the test are simple but the tight time limit makes it hard.

You have only 20 minutes to answer 36-38 reading comprehension questions, or 30 seconds per question, and 15 minutes to answer 80-100 vocabulary questions or 9 seconds per question.

So it's vital to use an accurate test-like practice test that will simulate real test conditions and give you a true indication of your current skill level.

What Is the Passing Score of The Nelson-Denny Test?

The Nelson-Denny's Test is an assessment that you cannot pass nor fail.

How many questions are on the Nelson-Denny Reading Test?

The test includes 118 questions.

The first section consists of 80 questions, while the second subtest, includes short passages with 38 questions.

Is there a time limit for the Nelson-Denny test?

You are expected to finish the test in 35 minutes.


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