Reading Rockets notes there are many examples of informal reading inventories including print concepts, rhyming exercises, word blending and phoneme segmentation. Students being tested should have a distraction-free environment, which may mean keeping non-testing students occupied with other activities.
Print concepts are easy to test with students. Give them a storybook, and then ask them to identify particular parts of a book. These can include physical aspects of the book such as its front and back as well as compositional elements. Compositional elements include defining letters, words, titles, and spaces, and concepts such as knowing where sentences begin and end.
Rhyme is a simple and fun inventory for students. Start by giving the students words in pairs and then asking if the words sound alike. Don't forget to make a note of their answers.
Word blending helps assess students' ability to see how words are put together. To assess this, break simple words into two parts and say each part slowly to see if they can figure out the complete word. An examples of this would be saying "s" and then saying "at," and recording whether they can tell that the joined word is "sat."
Phoneme segmentation is the opposite of word blending. It involves giving the students simple words such as "pig" and asking them to say the word slowly to determine which letters the word is made of. Record their responses to each word.