How to Develop Comprehension Skills for the GED - dummies

How to Develop Comprehension Skills for the GED

By Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth, Achim K. Krull

After you know what to read to prepare for the GED, you need to focus on how to read. You can’t easily skim the type of prose that appears on the test. You need to read each question and passage completely to find the right answer. Here are some tactics that will help you do just that:

  • Read carefully. When you read, read carefully. If reading novels, plays, or historical documents is unfamiliar to you, read these items even more carefully. The more carefully you read any material, the easier it’ll be for you to get the right answers on the test.

  • Ask questions. Ask yourself questions about what you just read. Could you take a newspaper column and reduce the content to four bulleted points and still summarize the column accurately? Do you understand the main ideas well enough to explain them to a stranger?

    Ask for help if you don’t understand something you read. You may want to form a study group and work with other people. If you’re taking a test-preparation course, ask the instructor for help when you need it. If you have family, friends, or coworkers who can help, ask them.

  • Use a dictionary. Not many people understand every word they read, so use a dictionary. Looking up unfamiliar words increases your vocabulary, which, in turn, makes passages on the Reasoning through Language Arts test easier to understand. If you have a thesaurus, use it, too. Often knowing a synonym for the word you don’t know is helpful. Plus, it improves your Scrabble game.

  • Use new words. A new word doesn’t usually become part of your vocabulary until you put it to use in your everyday language. When you come across a new word, make sure you know its meaning and try to use it in a sentence. Then try to work it into conversation for a day or two. After a while, this challenge can make each day more exciting.

    If you don’t know what you don’t know, you can find lists of important words online, such as “the 100 most commonly misspelled or misunderstood words” or “words important to pass the SAT.” These can be a good start to increasing your vocabulary.

  • Practice. If you want more practice tests, look for additional test-prep books at your local bookstore or library. You can also find some abbreviated tests on the Internet. Type in “GED test questions” or “GED test questions + free” into your favorite search engine and check out some of the results. The GED Testing Service also offers free sample tests.

    Take as many practice tests as you can. Stick to the time limits, and keep the testing situation as realistic as possible. When you go to the test center for the official test, you’ll feel more at ease because you practiced.

All the information you need to answer the reading questions is given in the passages or in the text of the questions that accompany the passages. You’re not expected to recognize the passage and answer questions about what comes before it or what comes after it in context of the entire work. The passages are complete in themselves, so just focus on what you read.

Many people get hung up on the drama passages. Don’t stress. Keep in mind that these literary genres are just different ways of telling a story and conveying feelings. If you’re not familiar with them, read plays before taking the test. Discuss what you’ve read with others; you may even want to consider joining (or starting) a book club that discusses novels and plays.