Effective Strategies in Taking Reading Comprehension Exams

Before starting on the passage read the questions first.

By reading the questions, you will have an idea of what information you will need after reading the passage. This may alert you to certain details, ideas and specific areas on the paragraph where the questions are being drawn from.

For long questions, look ahead to see what is being asked. Take a look at the “stem” of the question, the sentence that precedes the answer choices and look at the kinds of choices that are being offered.

Keep forging ahead. Do not get bogged down if there is a word or sentence you do not understand. You may get the main idea without knowing the individual word or sentence. Sometimes you can sense the meaning of the word from the context. Sometimes the word or sentence may not be the basis of any question. If there is some idea you need to answer a question but do not understand, read it one more time. If you still do not understand it, move on. You can come back to this question later if you have more time at the end of the test.

Read short questions carefully the first time. When you are reading a short question for the first time, read it carefully. You can retain all of the main ideas and remember where particular things are mentioned from one careful reading. Hence, you do not want to waste time reading this passage twice.

Besides wasting time, another bad consequence of reading a short question very carelessly the first time is that it may leave you with some false impressions of what you have read. Wrong ideas can get stuck in your head from a careless reading. Then it will be more difficult to get the correct answer.

Do not just read the passage, understand the passage by having the focus.

Days before the examination, take a good rest. Advisably, take some vitamins, to condition not only your eyes but also your mind.

Picture what you read.

Try to form a picture (as an aid in comprehension) in your mind as you read.

Use your pencil as a pointer.

Using the pencil to guide your eye along a line of text helps you to focus on the details in the reading; it holds your attention to the precise words on the passage. In a long test, attention may weaken. Fatigue may blunt your attention to detail. But using your pencil as a pointer will help to preserve your attention to the details.

Another benefit of using the pencil as a pointer is that it will probably speed up your reading. The steady flow of the pencil across the page with each line of text draws the eye along at a steady pace. Do not go faster than you can grasp the text, but do try to keep your reading going at a steady pace set by the pencil.

Encircle or underline the key words and phrases.

On a Reading Comprehension test, you are not reading for just a vague general understanding of the passage. You usually have to read for detailed understanding. There will be individual words that are important for grasping a point exactly.

Ask yourself questions as you read.

When you finish reading a sentence, ask yourself what the author was saying. At the end of a whole paragraph, ask yourself what the point of the whole paragraph was. If you ask yourself questions, you will find that you are paraphrasing the passage in your mind.

Know where the author stands.

Sometimes a passage will contain an evaluation of some ideas of tools or procedures. The author may want to make the point that certain practices or procedures are bad or that certain tools may not be right for a particular job. Be sure you know if the author is accepting or rejecting something.

Eliminate the choices which have erroneous details.

Details that are irrelevant shall be crossed out.