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The Reading Comprehension Test Is Hard. Here’s Why...

Reading casually doesn't make you good at reading comprehension.

You see, to get a high score in maths, you need to learn the content and practice time management.

With reading comprehension tests, merely learning the content won't cut it. You need strategy and approach.

Here's why:

  • You never know what passage you're going to get on the test day - It might be an exciting piece of fiction or a magazine article that makes your eyes glaze over. That's why it's important to actively practice reading comprehension activities that involve a variety of texts and genres. In our reading comprehension online course (click here for a free preview), for example, we expose students to various types of passages they are likely to deal with in the reading test, so nothing throws them off-balance.
  • The time constraints are harsh - Depending on whether you're in Year 5, Year 6, or Year 7, you'll have, on average, 30-80 seconds per question. Learning time-saving strategies and taking timed practice tests is absolutely vital to success.
  • Reading comprehension questions are tricky - They are not just about finding the information in the passage. Instead, you may be required to analyze the text, "connect the dots" to make an inference or find the tone of the piece. What's more, there are always several answer options trying to fool you. You need to know the traps and hone your tactics to rule out the tricky answers and find the right one.
  • Challenging vocabulary can stand in the way - Even if English is your first language, you're likely to come across words you don't know. Using the dictionary is not permitted, so you need a strategy to get unstuck and deal with unfamiliar vocabulary in a stressful exam setting.

Don't worry, there's good news, too.

With the right attitude, consistent online and on-paper practice, and an effective approach, tackling difficult reading comprehension questions can become second nature.

Read on for the answers to the top reading comprehension questions from students and parents as well as learn our best exam strategies to shine on your test day.

5 Winning Reading Comprehension Strategies & Tips For Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7 Students in Q&A Format (With Sample Exercises And Answers)

Question 1: “How can my child answer reading comprehension questions fast?”

The exam time limit is a real struggle since you need to be both accurate and quick.

Here are our secret reading comprehension strategies to make the most of every test minute.

Reading Comprehension Strategy 1: Use The "Down To Top" Approach

Most students think they need to carefully read the full text before reading the question. The problem with this approach is that some reading comprehension passages are very long.

It means that:

  1. You'll hardly remember any details until you get to the questions. So you'll have to come back to the passage again to re-read it.
  2. You'll be wasting precious time.

There’s a far better and more efficient strategy at place. We call it the "down to top" approach.

Here's how it works.

Instead of scanning through long passages that will eat up your time, read the question first.

This way, you'll know what details to focus on in the passage, making the whole reading process more focused and purposeful.

Once you've located the information you need to answer the question, don't read further. Go through the available answer choices and see if you can eliminate the ones not related to the passage or which can't be supported by the text.

Check out sample passage with answer (in video below) below to see how this reading comprehension strategy works in practice:

Here's another proven reading comprehension tip that can give you a leg up in harsh test conditions.

Reading Comprehension Strategy 2: Know Your Structures

Make sure to learn about different genres and types of texts before your exam - it can save you a ton of time.

Here's how:

  • Repeating structural patterns will help locate the information you need to answer questions faster and more efficiently. For example, you'll know that the counter-argument is likely located closer to the end of the persuasive passage. Or, in the case of fiction, details about the setting and characters are often introduced in the beginning.
  • You'll know what to expect. For example, you'll remember that factual questions are not very common for poetry. Instead, you'll likely come across reading questions about the overall tone or main idea. Thus, you can read more strategically, focusing your attention on the essential parts of the passage and save time skimming others.

Question 2: “How can my child get the questions right in the reading comprehension test? The answers are TOO similar! I can’t decide!”

After doing some reading worksheets and online practice tests - click here to try our online practice tests for free, many parents and students complain that the answers are painfully similar to each other.

Is there a way to distinguish between the correct answer and those that just pretend to be the right ones?

Check out our next easy reading comprehension strategy and stop falling prey to tricky answers once and for all.

Reading Comprehension Strategy 3: Recognize The Trap

Once in a while, you'll come across answer options that sound good and are somewhat faithful to the text, yet can't be fully supported with evidence within the passage.

The two key ones to note are:

  1. Absolute or "blanket" statements with words such as "always," "never," "all," "definitely." Double-check if you can support these extreme opinions with the textual evidence. Remember that if the passage says, "most of the people," it doesn't equal "all people."
  2. Options that are only half-true. For example, you have to choose two adjectives that describe the overall tone. Even if you think that one of the two adjectives is 100% precise, it doesn't mean the answer is correct. Go through each and every option and choose the best one.

Check out if you can recognize tricky answer options in the sample reading passage below.

Question 3: “What can my child do if they don’t understand a word in the reading comprehension test or if they don’t have a wide vocabulary range?”

Active, critical reading practice before the exam is always useful. It not only helps to build focus when dealing with longer texts but also improves vocabulary.

But remember that nobody knows all the words. Not even the smartest English native speaker. Sooner or later, you will come across an unfamiliar word or phrase.

If that happens on the test day, no fear! We’ve got the strategy just for you.

Reading Comprehension Strategy 4: Look For Context Cues

Some reading comprehension questions test your ability to understand words and their meanings in the sentence.

Even if this is the first time you see the word, there’s no reason to panic - use context cues.

Context cues are all the phrases, words, and sentences that surround the unfamiliar word.

Instead of getting stuck on the unknown, read the sentence before and after the one containing unfamiliar vocabulary. In 99% of the cases, you’ll get enough information to make an educated guess that would logically fit the blind spot.

See an example of the reading comprehension question that focuses on vocabulary below.

Question 4: “How can I get the overall feel or tone of a piece, especially with poetry?”

The tone and atmosphere in poetry are all about the gut feeling – you just know it.

That said, the tone can change throughout the piece or stir different feelings.

How to know which one is right?

Grab your reading comprehension worksheet, a pencil, and test our next strategy right now.

Reading Comprehension Strategy 5: Befriend The Keywords

The tone is mostly created by words. So, by analysing the words from the piece, you can judge the prevailing tone without relying solely on your gut feeling.

Scan through the whole passage and underline the major keywords, adjectives, phrases that all together lead to a specific tone of the piece. Try to categorize these keywords according to the answer choices you have.

Eventually, you'll notice that some answer options gather a larger number of keywords around them than the others.

See if you can apply this strategy to the sample passage below. Make sure to pause the video before you get the answer.

Want to learn more powerful strategies and useful tricks to ace your reading comprehension test?

Check out the test prep designed to give you an advantage.

Online Course

Boost your test score and confidence with our self-paced online reading comprehension course. With 5+ hours of video instruction from the top 5% scorer and actionable homework, you'll learn the nuts and bolts of reading comprehension along with advanced tips and strategies to conquer the reading section of your test.

The course is designed for students in Year 5, Year 6, and Year 7.

Reading Comprehension Test Bank

Surprises are fun… unless they are the questions you get on your test day. Be ready for whatever awaits you with our reading comprehension test bank. Practice on-the-go with 100 sample questions that mirror the authentic exam, optimize your pacing with the timed practice mode, and get comprehensive explanations to every question.

The test bank is designed for students in Year 5, Year 6, and Year 7.

Reading Comprehension Test Preparation Online

Practicing reading skills is essential for competitive entrance exams, such as scholarships, selective schools, and NAPLAN literacy. And with our online course, practice has never been easier.

Learn the ins and outs of reading comprehension questions, find out how to answer them accurately, and discover score-boosting strategies to approach different texts, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Lastly, give your verbal skills a workout with a final test that includes a variety of passages with questions and answers.

The course is designed for students in Year 5, Year 6, and Year 7, but can be used for general reading improvement in Year 8 and Year 9.

Great for:

  • NSW HSPT (Reading Test)
  • Academic Assessment Services scholarship and selective school exams
  • ACER scholarships and selective schools exams like Perth Modern, WA GATE and Brisbane State High School.
  • Edutest scholarships and selective school tests like Victorian Selective Schools (MacRob, Melb High, Suzanne Cory and Nossal) and Queensland Academies Selective entry (Year 7).

After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST

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