Reading tests are my favorite type of test.
Maybe it’s because I like reading, but seriously: where else can you take a test and actually learn about something as you take the test?
Nowhere, that’s where.
That being said, here’s a four-step plan with a few test taking tips and strategies I’ve put together here to help you ace your next reading test. These aren’t really study tips – you can learn some of those here. These are things to help you out on the day of the test.
Step 1: Read the questions first
As counterintuitive as it might sound, read the questions before you read the passage. This is so you get an idea of what to keep an eye out for as you read.
You don’t have to remember all the qustions though. Don’t worry – you’ll understand in a minute.
Also, make sure you understand each question before you move on to the next one. Sometimes the wording in reading tests can be a bit tricky. Be sure you know exactly what it is that the question is asking of you.
Step 2: Read the passage
You didn’t think you’d get to skip out on this part, did you? Silly rabbit.
It’s important when you’re reading to actually read. Don’t just skim the passage. Read the whole thing. Every word.
Now because you know the questions, you’ll come across the answers and be tempted to pop over and answer them real quickly. Don’t do it! You’ll only waste time going back and forth right now. And you’ll lose the flow of what you’re reading.
Just read the passage!
Step 3: Answer the questions
So you’ve finished reading. Now it’s time to actually answer the questions.
Here’s the key to this method: because you knew the questions before you read the passage and answers popped out at you as you went, you know exactly where the answers are.
Don’t rely on your memory to answer the questions though!
Always scan the passage again and find the answer, even if you think you know what it is. The few extra seconds it takes to double check are well worth the points it will save you.
Also, watch out for tricky questions. Just because the sentence you pick as an answer is the same as a sentence in the passage does NOT mean that it is the correct answer. You might have missed one of those annoying little words like “not.”
Always double check!
Another reading test tip if it’s a multiple choice test is to use grammatical hints. These are subtle clues left within the question’s syntax and grammar that help you decide the answer.
For example, if the question ends with “an:” you know that the answer has to start with a vowel. Stuff like that.
One final tip: NEVER use your own background knowledge! Assume for the test that the passage is the only thing ever written or known about the subject. Even if you know something in the passage to be false, assume for the test that it is true. Rely only on the text!
Step 4: Wallow in awesomeness
Now that you’ve aced that reading test, go ahead and celebrate. Maybe go to the library and get the latest blockbuster novel. Or check out some super dense textbook on a back shelf. Something.
Seriously – it’s important to celebrate small victories. They keep you going throughout the school year and that feeling of accomplishment can’t be beat.
What do you think?
What are some things you’ve done in reading tests? Any cool study tips to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Image by beggs via Flickr