The Best Power Reading Strategies for Faster Comprehension on Exams 

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The Best Power Reading Strategies for Faster Comprehension on Exams 

Reading Comprehension

Many language exams like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) include long reading passages that can take up nearly an entire page of the test. It is understandable to feel intimidated by the length and assume it will be time-consuming to comprehend what the writer is trying to say.  

 Contrary to popular belief, comprehension of the passage and getting the right answer are not necessarily positively related to the time spent analyzing every word and sentence. Using these power reading strategies, you will learn how easy and repetitive it is to extract enough information in a limited time setting. 

 1. Always Read the First Paragraph 

A common misconception that the first paragraph is not as crucial as the body paragraphs is a common reason many students fail to understand the whole body of the writing. However, the introductory paragraph, like its name, exists for a good reason – to introduce us to what the passage is all about.  

 It creates the foundation for what we are supposed to grasp throughout the body paragraphs and provides us with the keywords that will constantly show up in the following paragraphs. If you were asked to find the one sentence that encapsulates the entire content, it would be in the first paragraph.  

 2. Use the Transition Words 

A strategy I find effective is to highlight all the transition words as I swiftly skim through a passage. Writers frequently employ transitions and incorporate plot twists to inject intrigue into their writing. Identifying words such as “however” or “nevertheless” acts as a compass, directing attention to crucial elements that will likely feature in the questions you need to tackle.  

 Additionally, transition words like “first,” “second,” “next,” or “last” play a pivotal role in structuring and organizing the text. They aid in sequencing and bring order to the main points within the dense fabric of the writing, facilitating a clearer understanding. 

3. Master Patterns 

With enough practice, you will see the subtle patterns of the questions made for comprehension. There is a limit to the variety of questions the exam creators can make. Recognizing the inherent limitations in the variety of questions exam creators can concoct, you’ll discern the predictable sequences. Similarly, if you find contrasting transition words, be prepared for the questions trying to fool you into choosing the opposite answer. You will always find a question asking, “Which of these sentences best expresses the passage...”  

 These problems are asking if you were moving your eyeballs, or if you genuinely understood what you were reading. If a word is already highlighted in the passage, it is most likely to be an important keyword. Why would they highlight an irrelevant word? Unless the highlighted word is for a vocabulary question, the test developers are providing us with clues to locate the answers.   

4. Practice Skimming and Grouping While Reading 

While it might not be the news you’re eager to embrace, consider the possibility that a speed boost in your reading could be the game-changer. Practice skimming, which involves quickly going over unnecessary grammar terms and repetitive sentences. Instead, concentrate on finding the key points and connections between them. Take advantage of note-taking and highlight specific words and sentences that you may revisit while solving the questions.   

 A clean exam sheet will not get you anywhere, but at the same time, there is no need to circle every adjective you meet. Your goal is to extract just enough information from the reading to solve the problems – not admire or judge the writing.  

5. Use A Timer for Practice 

Getting all the questions correct during your unlimited time for practice exams is not going to help when you can barely get to the last question during the real exam. If time constraints are a persistent issue, try practicing skimming and scanning by setting up a timer. Using the strategies above, try to find out what is stopping you from finding the right keywords and estimate the amount of time you take for each problem.  

 Figure out the types of questions you struggle with and allocate your given time wisely. Through dedicated practice and a tailored approach, you’ll stride into the exam room with confidence, leaving behind the stress of feeling rushed and overwhelmed. 

Master these Power Reading Strategies Today 

As most exams become more difficult each year, mastering the fundamentals of reading comprehension becomes increasingly crucial. Power reading transcends its role as a mere English test-taking skill; it’s a valuable asset in navigating through extensive document piles across various scenarios. Do not forget to take either the ‘fast’ or ‘comprehension’ out of ‘faster comprehension.’ Most importantly, remind yourself that with the right skills and enough practice, you will improve your ability to understand and process information quickly and efficiently.  

 Test Prep Score’s blog offers a wealth of valuable test prep insights and test-taking strategies that can further enhance your skills and boost your confidence. Stay ahead of the curve by subscribing to their blog, where you’ll find expert guidance, practical tips, and a supportive community eager to share their experiences. Elevate your test preparation game and unlock your full potential. Subscribe now to Test Prep Score’s blog and pave the way for a successful and stress-free exam experience. Your success awaits!