4 Effective Reading Skills for a Comprehension Test

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It is easier to perform creditably in a reading comprehension or summary test if you have certain effective reading skills.

Making Sure You Understand What You Read

Comprehension and Summary are major components of most high school level English Language tests. International examinations such as WASSCE, G/ABCE, SAT, IGCSE O-Level or A/AS-Level, and GCSE have a section for Comprehension and/or Summary.

Entrance Examinations for mature candidates to certain distance learning courses in universities in places like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia and Ghana also involve comprehension and summary writing tests.

Are you a candidate preparing for any of the above examinations or a similar one? Then you will need to sharpen your effective reading skills now.


With these skills, you will be able to read that passage like a pro and get the best understanding of what you read. It is only then that you can go ahead to easily identify and provide the right answers to the questions.

Below are four top effective reading skills every English Language candidate should acquire to be successful in a comprehension or summary test.

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1.     Speed reading – avoid pointing to words

Among the top effective reading skills is speed reading. Pointing to words while you are reading the comprehension or summary passage greatly slows down your reading. So if you are fond of pointing to words while you read, learn to stop it before you enter the examination room.

Why? Reading by pointing to words does not facilitate speed reading.

2.     Silent reading – concentrate on the passage

Read silently instead of reading in a way that will let the next person hear your voice. Silent reading ensures greater concentration which in turn enables you to avoid the time-wasting habit of going back to read a single line over and over again.

3.    Grasping the meanings of groups of words and sentences – Focus on language chunks.

Language chunks refer to groups of words like fixed phrases and whole sentences.

Look for meanings within groups of words and inside whole sentences. Avoid the common habit of looking for the meanings of individual (and sometimes difficult, unfamiliar) words.

Your ability to pay attention to groups of words rather than individual words will help you to understand better what you read.

4. Learning to identify relevant points and ideas

Remember the points below if you really want to develop this skill which is one of the most helpful effective reading skills for every language learner.

(a)  Every passage has one central idea. The writer usually makes reference to this idea in the first paragraph of the text/passage. It is found, usually, in a single sentence either at the beginning, middle or end of the introductory paragraph. Look for it.

(b) The main idea is then discussed in bits in the subsequent paragraphs. Every paragraph after the first one is very likely to discuss an aspect of the central idea. This aspect is also usually stated clearly, or hinted at, around the beginning of every subsequent paragraph. Look for these.

(c)  The last paragraph is usually a concluding one. This last paragraph restates or emphasizes what has been discussed in the whole passage. It may also say much about the writer’s opinion about, or attitude towards the subject under discussion. Find this out.

If you develop these effective reading skills and apply them as you read, you will easily and quickly find and provide appropriate answers to most questions in the comprehension or summary test..

Wait, before you go …

Are you currently learning English Language as an adult second language learner or as a student? What one challenge are you facing?

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You will learn to perfect your effective reading skills among others.

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Thank you!

Ralph spends his day working as an online entrepreneur and e-learning strategist. As a digital publishing trainer/consultant, he has developed exceptional skills in SEO-content writing. He writes extensively on lifelong learning and personal development issues. Ralph is the CEO of RN Digital Media Ent - a digital publishing & content marketing services platform he founded in 2017.

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