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Four Theories For Taking a Standardized Reading Test

written by: lauraleemoss • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

Studying for standardized tests' reading portions allows students to develop their own manner of test taking. They will build confidence and begin the test when time is called, instead of worrying about the test's format or questioning style.

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    Getting Started

    Students should read a variety of materials frequently throughout their school years. Being familiar with the written word is the best way to prepare for standardized reading tests. Standardized reading tests question students about comprehension; the author's purpose, intent, and audience; vocabulary; and literary term usage. These functions are familiar to well-read students. However, all students will benefit from understanding different ways to approach test taking makes standardized reading tests easier as well.

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    Photo Credit: Flickr

    Preparation is important in preparation.
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    Theory One

    Read each passage, then answer questions.This is the most typical way to work through a standardized reading portion. This theory acclamates readers to the passage. Students then answer questions with the material fresh in their minds. If they cannot answer a question, the layout of the reading passage is familiar and they should be able to locate the answer quickly.

    The biggest downfall to this theory is it takes lots of time. Slower readers may want to adopt a different theory for test taking.

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    Theory Two

    Read the questions and then read the passage. This theory works for students with limited time. If you struggle to finish a passage and its questions, you may want to practice this method. Students will look at the questions and then begin reading the passage. When students find an answer, they will go to the question and then return to the passage. Students will continue until they all questions are done.

    A problem with this method is that some answers may not be found directly in the reading. Additionally, physically turning pages or your eyes back and forth may bother certain types of learners.

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    Theory Three

    Read the introduction, read the ending, answer questions, and skim the rest as needed. This theory works for students with limited time. If you struggle to finish the reading and answering of a passage, you may want to read the introduction and ending for the "general idea" questions. Questions will direct students to certain lines or words, and students can locate the answers easily. After these questions are answered, students will have more of a feel for the passage and should be able to answer or find the remaining answers.

    The downfall for this theory is that students won't be able to answer questions from glimpses of the passage. Some "general idea" or analytical questions may be require more information than students gleamed. Students may also spend more time searching for answers than if they simply read the passage.

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    Theory Four

    Combine a few theories. Many students use a combined method of the above mentioned three. They may enter the testing room armed with what works, only to encounter a stubborn passage. For instance, if you are stuck on a passage, don't understand it, or can't read past a sentence or paragraph, you may want to jump to the questions. If you read the questions and begin reading the passage and the answers jump out at you, you may want to go back and forth from the passage to the questions. This is why practice is so important: the day of the test, you do not have time to decide on methods of test taking. Practice beforehand to know what works for you and what doesn't.

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    Final Tips

    Taking the reading portion of a standardized test is a marathon: lots of practice for an important event. Practice may seem like a bore or unnecessary. Perhaps you have heard of someone who scored almost perfectly on the reading section of a standardized test with no practice. While such a story might be true, it is improbable. To perform well, practice to learn what theories work for you so you have confidence and are familiar with the test format.

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