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How To Pass A College Reading Test

How to Pass a College Reading Test

A reading test determines how well you have understood what you have read. Usually, a few passages are given for you to read and questions are framed based on the passages.

There are different ways of framing questions based on a particular passage. Some questions could ask you to check if and how two sentences are related to each other.

Or the questions could ask you to define the meaning of the word(s) taken from the passage. Or you could be asked to give synonyms of some words from the passage.

This article is dedicated to giving you some ideas on how to pass a college reading test.

There are different strategies available for you to apply so as to successfully clear a college reading test. Here are some of them; you could choose what suits you best. Many times, a combination of two or more strategies can produce great results for you.

Go through the entire test paper

Before you starting writing or even reading the first passage, go through the entire test paper and make a mental note of the number, the length, and the type of questions that are being asked in it. More often than not these tests are timed and hence you should be able to gauge how much time you can allocate for each passage and related questions.

Read the question before you read the passage

Counterintuitive though it may appear, reading the questions before you read the passage gives you an idea of what information you need to look for. This makes the process of finding the answer in the passage easier because you will be able to pick it as you read the passage.

If your question requires you to choose the best available answer, then it means that there are more than one answer that could come close to being right. In such cases, make sure you review all the options, relate them to the passage and then make the right choice.

If you are not sure of a particular question, then you don't need to panic. Simply, move forward in the paper, complete the rest and then come back and relook at this question. Believe me, the answer to it will strike you simply because you have not allowed fear and panic to overwhelm you.

Use the information in the passage to answer the questions

Many times, you will be asked to give the meanings of words taken from the passage. Invariably, these words will either be italicized or given in bold in the passage. You can answer these types of questions even before reading the entire passage. Find the words, read around them to get the context and meaning of the word even if cannot remember it right away.

Many times, the question asked about a passage would include, "What is the primary or main idea presented in the passage?" The answer to this will also be easy to find. Read the first and the last paragraphs of the passage and see if a common idea is repeated. This is most likely the main idea in the passage.

Also, for some questions that you are almost certain but not fully certain, do not hesitate to reread the passage to get that perfectly correct answer. Do not allow for careless mistakes especially in cases when the answers are clearly available in the passage. For example, if the question was, "Who said to whom?" then it makes sense to reread the passage to absolutely make sure that you get the answer right. Don't lose marks to carelessness.

Another critical point to note with regard to reading tests is not to restrict reading the passage to just one time. If required, read it once, twice, thrice, and as many times as needed to make sure you get the answer right.

Reading tests do not test your memory; they test your comprehension and reading skills. So, read again and again and make sure you thoroughly understand what you have read and then only answer the question(s).

How to answer multiple-choice questions in reading tests

Read the options given to you many times over. You could think of eliminating the following options:

  • Any answer that seems to include some amount of humor could perhaps be eliminated unless the passage itself is a humorous one

  • Answers with phrases and words such "never" or "always" can be eliminated unless they are irrefutable universal truths

  • There could be options that have the same meaning but is presented using different words; most likely, these can also be eliminated

Finally, avoid leaving any question(s) unanswered because reading tests rarely have negative markings for wrong answers. Eliminate those options that you are sure are wrong and then make a calculated guess from the remaining answers.

Reading and comprehension strategies

The following strategies will help in improving your reading skills thereby making your comprehension more thorough and with little or no doubts in your understanding of the content.

Making connections with earlier knowledge – When you are reading new content make an effort to connect it to something that you already know or have read earlier. For example, if you are reading a story about a lost pet, try and remember either from your own life experiences or another reading about the feelings that is evoked when someone loses his or her pet.

You could connect this to your own pet if you have one or your desire for the kind of pet you want and why you are not able to get it. These connections that you make help you relate to the present story better and also help you remember and recall more details than if you did not make the connections.

Visualize what you are reading – If you are reading the description of a place, try and visualize the place in your mind using the information given in the content. Picture the description in your mind; if the content says "colorful flowers filled the garden," then imagine the garden in your mind. The picture of the "colorful flowers" will be embedded in your head and your understanding about the passage gets deeper than before.

Make inferences as you read – As you are reading, make your own inferences. For example, suppose the passage explains an event in the life of the character, then take the place of the character and ask yourself, "How would I feel if this happened to me?" Such inferences help you get a deeper understanding of the story or content.

Determining the various important points in the passage – As you read, make a mental note of the various points that are coming up and where will you place them in order of importance. While you do this exercise, you will arrive at the most important point and then you will also be able to arrive at the various other details and their order of importance in the context of the passage.

Summarizing the main idea in the passage – As you read the passage, try and summarize the main idea in the passage in your own words. This will help you get a better understanding of what is being said by the author. Moreover, as you summarize, you could find conflicting ideas surfacing or some doubts. These ideas and doubts will drive you to read the passage again to clarify these conflicts or doubt thereby enhancing the depth of your understanding of the passage.

Final Notes

I would like to end this article by giving you some basic good habits that help you improve your reading and comprehension skills. So, here goes:

  • Pay attention to what you are reading

  • Be mindful of every word that is used in the passage

  • Read the title of the passage, the subtitles etc so that you understand how the data is organized

  • For the first reading, stick to reading the first and last paragraph (this will give you some insight into the central idea of the passage) and skim through the first sentences of each paragraph

  • During the second time, read each paragraph carefully and see if the points match or conflict with the central idea

  • For short passages, it is ok to mouth every word; but if the passage is long and the paper is timed, then your speed of reading could slow down the pace of writing the test.

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