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Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition, UK (PLS-5-UK)

The PLS-5-UK is an individually administered test that measures young children’s receptive and expressive language skills. The PLS-5-UK (2014) is now the norm used with children in the UK.

The assessment also includes three supplementary assessments:

  • A care-giver questionnaire that can be used with the caregivers of children up to three years of age to supplement the information given by the main tests. If the caregiver completes the questionnaire before the child’s test it’s possible to score many of the areas without the child having to do them.
  • A Language Sample Checklist. This can be used with any child who speaks in connected utterances. It provides an overview of the content and structure of a child’s spontaneous utterances, from which a summary profile can be created and a mean length of utterance (MLU) calculated.
  • An articulation screen for children aged 2 years 11 months to 6 years 11 months. This determines whether further testing of a child’s articulation is necessary.

For children up to 2 years 11 months, the PLS-5 has more items targeting interaction, attention and vocal/gestural behaviours than previous versions. There are new items assessing emergent literacy skills such as book handling and concept of print.

The new items at age seven include tasks using synonyms for a word, using two or three target words to construct a sentence, and using prefixes.

Age range

Birth to 7 years, 11 months

Who can use it?

Speech and language therapists and educational psychologists. There’s currently a CL2 classification which means Teachers of the Deaf can’t order it.

How is it used?

  • The test manual itself should be consulted for detailed administration instructions prior to testing.
  • The auditory comprehension scale consists of 62 numbered tasks and is used to evaluate how much language a child understands. The expressive communication subscale consists of 68 numbered items and is used to determine how well a child communicates with others. To complete these scales, some items involve observing the child’s reaction to a stimulus. As the child gets older, other items involve either acting upon small manipulative toys or pointing to or describing pictures in a book that is supplied with the assessment.
  • It’s possible to calculate age-equivalents, standard scores and percentile ranks for a child’s auditory comprehension, expressive communication and ‘total language’ (a combination of both scales) using the tables in the manual.

What can it tell us?

Age-equivalent scores, standard scores and percentile ranks for a child’s auditory comprehension and expressive communication. This means that this test can tell us how any particular child is functioning in comparison with their hearing peers.


  • This assessment gives a lot of information and covers both receptive and expressive language in very young children, for a younger age group than most other assessments.
  • Standardised on a UK population.
  • Can be used to help form a decision on whether a child’s language skills are delayed or disordered.
  • Can be used to monitor progress over time and to inform target setting.


  • It can’t be ordered by Teachers of the Deaf.
  • This assessment is used as a monitoring tool by quite a lot of UK auditory implant teams, and therefore particular care should be taken to discuss who is going to use this tool in the case of a child who has multiple professionals working with them, as it should not be frequently repeated.
  • Parents may need to be warned that their child’s deafness will very much affect how their child will score on this assessment. Although this is true of all of the standardised assessments in this document, this assessment begins from birth and can be used even before the fitting of a cochlear implant, for example.

Is there a cost? 


Where can I access it?

You can access the assessment on the Pearson Clinical website