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  1. Noego's Avatar
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    Reading comprehension in examination

    I'm currently preparing my students for the final examination.

    There will be some reading comprehension in the final exam, in fact, it's the most important part (35%).

    What do you consider is the best approach as far as the reading comprehension part if concerned?

    Read the text once, then the questions? Or look for keywords for questions and in the text?

    I've read some things on the internet but it's all very subjective. Some people are saying do this whereas others are saying do that.

    As I have had no training in facilitating the reading comprehension, I find myself really confused.

    Are there any theories about that? Any empirical methods that work?

    I don't just don't feel it would be very professional to give some advice to the students which is just my own opinion. I would rather have some reference, some source that describes a clear and effective method in dealing with the reading part in exam.

    As far as I know, you become better at reading by doing it. I just don't think there's some kind of magic formula out there.

    Am I wrong?

    Are there some scientific method or is it just in the realm of opinions?

    I would really appreciate some help here as I don't feel like I'm well armed to prepare my students for the reading part at the moment as I lack knowledge about it.

    I've been pretty much pitched in a situation which seems very complex to me considering I'm a new teacher.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Noego's Avatar
    Senior Member
    English Teacher
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      • Canada
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    Re: Reading comprehension in examination

    I've found this so far:

    Tip 1: Use your scrap paper. Since these passages can be rather long and present difficult sentence and paragraph structures, you may want to use your scrap paper to take very brief notes on the main ideas of each paragraph. Because the GMAT is now computer adaptive, you will not be able to mark up the passages on your monitor.
    Taking brief notes is particularly useful for remembering where to find factual information in the science passages. When we say very brief notes, what we have in mind is something along the lines of "Paragraph 1: The different types of butterflies, Paragraph 2: How their nervous systems work, Paragraph 3: Why pesticide A is killing too many of them," etc. Use abbreviations liberally. Using scrap paper in this fashion can also help you outline passages and identify their main arguments for main idea questions.
    Of course, you can also use your scrap paper as you go along, to keep track of the answer choices you are able to eliminate as incorrect.
    I can't really picture my Chinese students starting to take notes about each paragraph. That would use up a lot of time, wouldn't it?

    I think I will simply suggest it to the students. Then at least they have a choice whether to use it or not.

    What do you think?

    Tip 2: Read the first question before the you read the passage
    . As we stated earlier, the new CAT structure of the GMAT prevents you from seeing all of the questions about a reading passage at the same time. Nonetheless, you will gain a slight advantage by reading the first question before you read the passage for the first time. This will give you a better idea of what you should be focusing on as you read, in order to answer that question.
    My test is not done on the computer, although I can see why you would want the first question before reading the passage.

    But doesn't reading the first question and then looking for the answer in your first reading makes you focus so much on the answer that you miss the meaning of the whole passage?

    I think if the students read the whole passage first one time, it's then easier to find the answers to each question after (as they have an idea as to how the text is structured). I would instinctively believe that having a general idea and then looking for the answers is better than looking for the answers right away.

    What is your opinion about that?

    Tip 3: Identify the type of passage you are reading
    . Memorize the 3 common passages types that we outlined above and remember that each one should be treated differently in order to optimize your score on this section.
    This doesn't apply to my kind of examination.

    Tip 4: When answering a fact question, read both the passage providing the data – and several lines before it – carefully
    . When a fact question directs you to look at a particular line of text for information, you will often find that one of the answer choices is a deceptive one, taken directly from that line number. More likely than not, there will be something in the sentence or two before the referenced line number that will give you the proper frame for interpreting the data – and hence direct you to the right answer to the fact question.
    That makes sense. Not that useful but it makes sense.

    Tip 5 doesn't apply
    Tip 6: Eliminate the "oohs and ahhs" answer choices
    . When consultants refer to "oohs and aahs," they are talking about interesting factoids that spice up presentations without adding anything of real value to the analysis. The GMAT also contains these types of answer choices. An 'ooh and ahh' choice will refer to a fact in the passage ... but just not to one that answers the question being asked.
    Also useful.

    Tip 7: Practice, practice, practice
    . We just want to say this one last time. You can't expect to become a scratch golfer just by reading a few magazine articles and watching a few golf tournaments on TV. Likewise, you can't expect to become an expert at taking the GMAT just by reading some tips and advice. You also need to work through many practice questions and learn to put tips and strategies like the ones we have presented to use.
    I will also tell this to my students.

    I've also found this article which is very helpful to me, and hopefully to everyone else out there:
    Last edited by Noego; 10-May-2007 at 04:15.

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