How to improve reading test scores

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Often students don’t do well on reading tests for one of two reasons.

First, they believe they already understand how to answer the questions, so they often skip the directions. Without understanding the directions, chances are students will make careless mistakes, like selecting only one answer to a multi-answer question.

Second, students often go straight to the questions without reading the passage.  Then they try to match the words from the questions with the words in the passage.

Both of these shortcuts can cost much in terms of accuracy on a test.

Instead of taking these shortcuts, you might what to follow these four simple steps when taking a Reading Test.

First, scan for main points and major details of the passage, paying close attention to the Thesis Statement, the topic sentences and the conclusion.   These give the reader an understanding of the points the writer is trying to make.

Note: Sometimes main ideas are implied. In this case, read the passage and ask, “What’s the author’s point?” “What’s he/she trying to communicate?”

Second, scan all the questions so you know something of what you are looking for.  Is there a question asking for the main idea, or supporting details?  Or maybe there is a question asking what a particular word means in the passage, or for an explanation of a phrase.

Third, read to understand the passage.  As you read write down important points marking which paragraph they were in.

Forth, begin answering the questions. Remember, your first answer is usually the best.

In this way you will be ready to intelligently interact with the questions.  And in the end it will probably take you less time then just diving in.

Richard Carrigan, MSE

Richard Carrigan has been an educator for over 30 years and a filmmaker for the past ten years. He has experience teaching English as a Second Language in Asia and teaching university students in the United States. He earned his undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University and his graduate degree from Shenandoah University.