Reading Comprehension Test-Taking Strategies

This tests your ability to read and understand materials you might be expected to read on the job.


During our seminars, one of the most frequent areas in which our students ask for additional help is the reading comprehension portion of the examination. For some of you, reading comprehension is a natural ability and you have little difficulty. For most, this portion causes many candidates to...


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During our seminars, one of the most frequent areas in which our students ask for additional help is the reading comprehension portion of the examination. For some of you, reading comprehension is a natural ability and you have little difficulty. For most, this portion causes many candidates to not score well and miss out on their dream job. The following are some strategies to help you improve in this area (additional strategies will be included in upcoming newsletters):

Reading comprehension measures your ability to read and understand the types of written materials that a firefighter might be expected to read on the job. You will be presented with a reading passage and then asked to answer questions about the passage.

In answering the questions based on the reading passage, it is important that you answer the questions only according to the information given in the passage. If you have information from your own experience and knowledge, you should not use it to answer a question of this type. Even if you think that there is a mistake in the reading selection, you must still answer the question on the basis of the information given in the reading passage.

The kinds of reading comprehension questions that appear on a civil service exam tend to be somewhat different from the reading comprehension questions on a school-related exam. That is because there are different kinds of reading - skimming, reading for general understanding, reading for details, etc.

There are certain techniques that will help you do well on reading comprehension questions. The following are a few of the most important techniques. Additional reading comprehension techniques will appear in upcoming newsletters.

Use your pencil. To begin with, use your pencil as a pointer. Using the pencil to guide your eye along a line of text helps you to focus on the details in the reading; it holds your attention to the precise words in the passage. In a long test, attention may weaken. Fatigue may blunt your attention to details. But using your pencil as a pointer will help to preserve your attention to details.

Another benefit of using the pencil as a pointer is that it will probably speed up your reading. The steady flow of the pencil across the page with each line of text draws the eye along at a steady pace. Do not go faster than you can grasp the text, but do try to keep your reading going at a steady pace set by the pencil.


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