Reading closely

As we get back into the last two reading assessments online, I have noticed that there is a consistency issue with many students: reading the textbook consistently and fully prior to taking the assessment frequently makes the difference between students who excel with the assignment, and those who miss points.

Similarly, reading the question closely can drastically alter whether a student earns credit for a test item. After looking at student responses from several items over the past few years, I have found a few key elements helpful. Let me share them now.

  1. Check the materials. If a question describes a particular term, and you have access to your study materials, it may be helpful to open the text or your notes to that section of the book.
  2. Look for context cues. If there is a particular article in front of the item (a/an/the), it may provide you with specific guidance toward a particular response.
  3. Check your spelling. Especially if you have access to the text or other materials, it may be exceptionally beneficial to review closely your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  4. Determine possible right answers. Just as with any multiple choice test, eliminate anything you know won’t work. Then, look at the responses you have remaining–those usually get you to the pretty obvious options.
  5. TAKE YOUR TIME. Especially if you have an idea of what to expect (and by halfway through the semester, you should!), you need to take the time to ensure that your response is not based off partial information. Read the question fully, and attempt to understand what type of information is being shared.

I have confidence that my students can do this work, if for no other reason than because I frequently create the reading assessments myself as I read the book. I also often use the same examples (or very similar examples) to the ideas or thoughts I share in class discussions.

Happy studying!


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