Tips for scoring well in reading comprehension tests

Pay attention to sequence

The writer does not always describe ideas in their chronological order. The writer may start at the end of an event and then move to the beginning. In the reading passages, you should expect to find a mixed sequence of ideas. Therefore, don’t assume that all the events mentioned in the passage took place in the same order that they are mentioned in the passage.

Learn to infer

To infer is to understand unstated ideas using logic. Inference is a vital skill for the Reading and Listening sections. However, you must be careful not to infer too much. Any inference must be supported by the passage.

Pay attention to modifying phrases and clauses

Sentences in the reading passages are not necessarily short or simple. They are long sentences consisting of several dependent clauses. We use several phrases and words to modify a sentence. It is important to recognize these modifiers because they specify the time, place, person, cause, effect, condition and so on.

Some modifiers tend to limit the meaning of the sentence. Take, for example, the modifier ‘some’. It is very limiting. Consider the following sentence.

  • Some forms of cancer are curable.

You can infer several ideas from this sentence.

When the author says that some forms of cancer are curable, he also means that some forms are not curable. If all forms were curable, he would have used the modifier all instead of some.

Some does not mean few or most. And hence when the author says that some forms of cancer are curable, he does not mean that most forms of cancer are curable.

Incorrect answers often omit or alter the modifiers in the original passage. If you read the passage too quickly or too carelessly, you will miss these modifiers in the passage.