More than a dozen ways to improve your reading comprehension
If you’re concerned about your reading comprehension skills, you are not alone. When it comes to the LANTITE Literacy Test some students seem to sail through, while for others it is a daunting prospect. As with most things, practice makes all the difference.
Here are more than a dozen tips and strategies that you can use to improve your chances of responding effectively to unfamiliar and sometimes challenging reading passages and the questions that you might be faced with in your LANTITE Literacy Test:
Skim read the text: This means paying attention to its title, subtitles, visual clues, graphics and captions, format, structure and layout, first and last paragraphs, topic sentences at the start of paragraphs. All of these clues should give a clear indication of what the text is about.
Make predictions: As you skim read, start trying to predict what type of text it is and what it might be about.
Read a few questions: Before reading the text in detail, read a few questions and keep them in mind when reading the text in detail. With practice, you will get an idea of how many questions you can keep in mind. If you think you have read something relevant to the questions asked, you can highlight pertinent words or phrases as you read so that you can find them more quickly once you have read the whole passage.
Generate questions: You may not feel you have time to do this if you are in a test situation, but when reading a text make sure you are actively reading and engaged with the text. If you find your mind straying, pause and ask yourself questions about the passage. These might be questions such as: what do I think the text might be about? Or, what is happening in this story? Or what is the author’s purpose in writing this text? Or what do I already know about this topic? Asking questions helps you to focus on the main ideas and assists your understanding of unfamiliar and sometimes challenging texts.
Highlighting on the screen: It helps to be able to take notes, annotate or highlight key words and phrases in a text. You cannot do all of this in the Lantite literacy text, but you can highlight or jot down key words. It is useful to practice this skill before you sit the test.
Read in detail and monitor understanding: As you then read the text in more detail, monitor what you have understood or not understood. Try to make connections with what you know about the topic. Practice, being metacognitive in your approach to reading.
Summarise: It is useful to practise summarising the main idea behind the text. If you read something get in the habit of asking yourself what the main idea behind it was.
Identify the sort of questions: If you are able to identify what type of question has been asked (access and identify, integrate and interpret, evaluate and reflect) it will help you to respond more effectively. By practicing question-type identification you will become faster and more confident when responding to questions.
Find the evidence: If you have been asked to infer meaning from the text, make sure you find evidence in the text. Don’t just answer according to what you think you know. Pay attention to vocabulary in both the text and the questions as it will help you to narrow down the correct answer.
Process of elimination: Use the process of elimination to help clarification and your chances of responding accurately. Don’t just focus on one part of the question. Make sure you have picked the answer that most closely matches the whole question.
If in doubt – make a note: In the LANTITE test you are given a piece of paper. Do not spend too long on any one question, but if you are uncertain, put an answer but make a note of the question number so that you can return to it at the end.
Double check: Make sure you have been thorough when reading the question and the text. It is easy to make silly mistakes. It pays to check, rather than having to pay again to re-sit the test.
Don’t listen to naysayers. It is easy to get in a flap and think there is nothing you can do to improve your reading comprehension and response skills, but that is not true. Like anything you will improve if you are taught how to go about it and you practise.
I’ll say it again – practise! Like most skills, the more time and effort you put into reading and responding to questions about a text, the better your performance will become. Improving reading skills can require a long-term approach, so I wouldn’t advise leaving it until the last minute. Start reading articles and texts that are pertinent to the education. Don’t forget that the LANTITE is framed within the educational context, so the majority of passages of writing you are likely to be faced with will be of an educational nature. When you become teachers, please, please remember that the skills associated with reading comprehension need to be taught explicitly. Get practising and best of luck!