9 Reading Comprehension Strategies btw, this will also help you on the March exit exams! 1. Read each question to determine the type: 1. main idea 2. detecting details 3. inference 4. tone/mood Definitions to follow Main idea These questions focus on the selection of the main thought of a passage; ability to judge the general significance of a passage; or the ability to select the best title of a passage Detecting details These questions assess your ability to understand the writer’s explicit statements; to get the literal meaning of what is written; or to identify details Inferential reasoning These questions judge your ability to weave together the ideas of a passage and to see their relationships; to draw correct inferences; or to go beyond the literal interpretation to the implications of the statements Tone/mood These questions assess your ability to determine from the passage the tone or mood that is dominant in the passage – serious, humorous, sad, mysterious, etc. Read passage one 1. This is a tone/mood question, so to answer it correctly, you must be able to determine the tone that is dominant in the passage. 2. This is an inferential reasoning type of question. To answer it correctly, you must see relationships between words and feelings. 3. This is a detecting details question. To answer it correctly, you must be able to understand the writer’s specific statements. Read passage two 1. This is a detecting details and an inferential reasoning question.You have to identify those words dealing with sound and noise, and you also have to infer that the author is appealing to the auditory (hearing) sense. 2. This is a tone/mood question for which you must determine the dominant tone in the passage. 3. This is a main idea question.You must have the ability to judge the general significance of the passage. 4. This is an inferential reasoning question for which you must draw a correct inference. 2. Underline the key parts of the reading passage The underlining will help you to answer questions because practically every question will ask you to detect … … the main idea or … information that is specifically mentioned in the passage or … information that is implied (not directly stated) in the passage or … the tone or mood of the passage If you find out quickly what the question is asking for, you will more easily arrive at the correct answer by referring to your underlining in the passage. Let’s practice! 3. Look back at the passage when in doubt The underlinings you have made in the reading passage will help you to determine whether a certain choice is the only correct choice. Example: A critic of politics finds himself driven to deprecate the power of words while using them copiously in warning against their influence. It is indeed in politics that their influence is most dangerous, so that one is almost tempted to wish that they did not exist, and that society might be managed silently, by instinct, habit and ocular perception, without this supervening Babel of reports, arguments and slogans. B 1. Which statement is true according to the passage? A. Critics of politics are often driven to take desperate measures. B.Words, when used by politicians, have the greatest capacity for harm. C. Politicians talk more than other people. D. Society would be better managed if mutes were in charge. E. Reports and slogans are not to be trusted. Example 2 All history museum experts are familiar with examples of ostrakoi, the oystershells used in balloting. As a matter of fact, these “oystershells” are usually shards of pottery, conveniently glazed to enable the voter to express his wishes in writing. In the Agora, a great number of these have come to light, bearing the name, Themistocles. Into rival jars were dropped the ballots for or against his banishment. On account of the huge vote taken on that memorable date, it was to be expected that many ostakoi would be fond, but the interest of this collection is that a number of these ballots are inscribed in an identical handwriting. There is nothing mysterious about it! The Boss were on the job, then as now. He prepared these ballots, and voters cast them – no doubt for the consideration of an obol or two. The ballot box was stuffed. How is the glory of the American boss diminished! A vile imitation, he. His methods as old as Time! 1. The title that best expresses the ideas of this passage is A. An Odd Method of Voting B. Themistocles, an Early Dictator C. Democracy in the Past D. Political Trickery – Past and Present E.The Diminishing American Politician D Example 3 1. The author implies that, in The weather predictions, which an almanac always contains are, we believe, mostly wasted on the farmer. He can take a squint at the moon before turning in. He can “smell” snow or tell if the wind is shifting dangerously east. He can register forebodingly an extra twinge in a rheumatic shoulder. With any of these to go by, he can be reasonably sure of tomorrow's weather. He can return the almanac to the nail behind the door and put a last stick of wood in the stove. For an almanac, a zero night or a morning’s drifted road – none of these have changed much since Poor Richard wrote his stuff and barns were built along the Delaware. predicting weather, there in considerable value in A. reading the almanac B. placing the last stick of wood in the stove C. sleeping with one eye on the moon D. keeping an almanac behind the door E. noting rheumatic pains E 4. Before answering the question, read the passage carefully If a particular sentence is not clear to you as you read, then reread that sentence to get a better idea of what the author is trying to say. Let’s practice 5. Get the meanings of tough words by using the context method Try to determine meaning of words you don’t know from the words that are close in position to the word with the meaning you don’t know. Knowing the meanings of the difficult words in the passage will help you to better understand the passage as a whole. Let’s practice 6. Circle transitional words in the passage These “bridge” or “key” words will help you to discover logical connections in a reading passage. Circling those transitional words will help you to get a better understanding of the passage. You have a list of these words on your handout. Let’s practice 7. Don’t answer a question on the basis of your own opinion Answer each question on the basis of information given or suggested in the passage itself. Your own views or judgments may sometimes conflict with what the author of the passage is expressing. Answer the question according to what the author believes. Example 1. The author’s attitude toward History has long made a point of the fact that the magnificent flowering of ancient civilization rested upon the institution of slavery, which released opportunity at the top of the art and literature which became the glory of antiquity. In a way, the mechanization of the present-day world produces the condition of the ancient in that the enormous development of laborsaving devices and of contrivances which amplify the capacities of mankind affords the base for the leisure necessary to widespread cultural pursuits. Mechanization is the present-day slave power, with the difference that in the mechanized society, there is no group of the community which does not share in the benefits of its inventions. Let’s practice one more mechanization is one of A. awe B. acceptance C. distrust D. fear E. devotion B Throughout the passage, the author’s attitude toward mechanization is one of acceptance.You may have a feeling of distrust or fear toward mechanization, but the question asks about the author’s attitude. 8. After reading the passage, read each question carefully Read not only the stem (beginning) of the question but also each of the five answer choices. Some students select a choice just because it is a true statement – or because it answers part of a question. This can get you into trouble. Let’s practice 9. Increase your vocabulary to boost your reading comprehension score Study your roots, prefixes and suffixes. Knowing the meaning of difficult words will help you understand a passage better. Read as widely as possible – novels, nonfiction, newspapers, magazines. Listen to people who speak well, such as on television shows that are cleverly written.You can pick up new words just by listening. Get into the habit of using the dictionary. Play word games. Crossword puzzles help build vocabulary. USE new words that you learn. Let’s practice in the SAT book!