The search engine Google has introduced a new feature that will help students filter the content they are searching for on the basis of ‘reading levels', which means that they can decide whether they want to be offered material that is easy or relatively hard to read and grasp.

The feature has been incorporated in Google's ‘Advanced search', which is generally used to fine tune one's search by setting a range of parameters like key words, date, region and so on.

The reading level settings can be found under the heading ‘Need more tools?'

Different options can be chosen in relation to the reading level: annotate results with reading levels; show only basic results; show only intermediate results and show only advanced results.

The option ‘no reading level displayed' will display the search results as usual. Once the filter is set, different options can also be explored from the top of the page that displays the search results.

A search on the human digestive system, when set at the basic reading level, throws up more links of the kind that would be appropriate for school students. The difficulty levels increase as the options are changed to intermediate and advanced.

“For instance, a junior high school teacher looking for content for her students or a second-language learner might want web pages written at a basic reading level. A scientist searching for the latest findings from the experts may want to limit results to those at advanced reading levels,” said Google announcing the new feature on its official blog recently. .

Statistical models

A Google employee explained that the new feature was based mainly on statistical models built with the help of teachers.

Teachers helped in the classification of pages for different reading levels which were then used to build the statistical model.

This model makes it possible for the search engine to compare words on any webpage with the words in the model and come up with the reading levels.

So it is quite simple: if you are a school student looking for basic information set the reading level to ‘basic' to get the kind of content you are searching for.

And if you are a researcher or a college student in the quest for more sophisticated content set the filters to intermediate or advanced, depending on your requirement. The search for information on the Internet has become a tad easy for students.