Shelagh Robinson Mirror Read Blog 61: Mirror Reading Test



Recognize this famous Mirror Reading Test?:

“Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves-
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:”

One of the most famous mirror reading tests appeared in the 1870s as “Jabberwocky, ” a very unusual poem featured in Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking Glass.

Readers are tested to decode the first stanza as a mystified Alice might have – in mirror reverse format.

To make the test even harder, Carroll used nonsense words so readers lose their sense of semantic balance. You try making meaning of the next lines:


It is a true test of concentration, attention and mental rotation, for anyone. Genius, some say.

Enjoy our version of a MR Test by clicking HERE:
Below, find more information on Mirror Reading Tests and our own research findings.

A bit of background on Mirror Reading Tests…

They have existed in the reading sciences since at least the 1920s. Designed to illuminate the mysteries of word and letter reversals in reading and writing, measures were developed from perspectives of learning disorders and neurological dysfunction.

The image that accompanies this post is of Dr. Samuel Kirk, among the first researchers to systematically explore reversals in reading and writing. He popularized theories describing strephosymbolia, or ‘twisted symbols.’  His classifications led to diagnostic categories, interventions, and educational philosophies. Notably, Kirk is known as the father of learning disabilities.

Mirror reading tests have advanced. Today’s investigators extend their research to include non-clinical samples and ‘regular readers’ in order to map difference, focused less on disability. Computerized data collection offers access to larger, global, samples. There is a fresh focus on development potentials and neuroplasticity in learning. Innovative brain imaging techniques transform the metrics of mirror reading with new precision. Transfer effects and applied studies are the next foci.

Far from signaling inevitable pathology, mirror-reading skills in ‘ordinary people’ are associated with an array of working memory and spatial abilities. Lots of ordinary people are curious about their own skills.

We received requests for an MR Test that is simple, straightforward, and available to anyone, with a timer to provide a speed marker, and a final score for Mirror Reading Ability.

So we created the first ever-online Mirror Reading Test (Free for the curious). Keeping it short, there are only five questions in a multiple-choice format. All answers are presented in mirror text.

Responses are assessed for time, accuracy and each player receives a score out of five with a short interpretation of their skills.

The first data is in!
Here are some preliminary findings – December 2012-April 2013*

Total sample: 63
–> 32 women, 31 men
Average age of participants: 31.97
–> Average age of women: 32.38, men: 31.55
Age span: all participants: 13 to 69
–> Women: 13 to 69, men: 13 to 64

Perfect scores (5/5):
35 (55.56% of the whole sample)
Women -18 with an average time of 175.33 seconds (51.43% of the sample of perfect scorers)
Men -17 with an average time of 163.18 seconds (17 men, 48.57% of the sample of perfect scorers)

Dominant Hand:
–> 52 Right (27 female, 25 male)
–> 9 Left (4 female, 5 male).
–>  2 Ambidextrous (1 male, one female),
84.54% of the sample is right-handed, 3.17% ambidextrous and 14.29% left-handed.

*This data is collected from an admittedly self-selected sample. It’s a beginning.  Please add to our collection.

The development of the Mirror Reading Test 2.0 is already underway. If you have any suggestions, please let us know:

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