Test Ready: Deepening Students' Comprehension

By on February 23, 2016

When students sit down to take tests this spring, there are two decisions that can help them raise their scores from last year: build prior knowledge and read with purpose. During the exam, students should use the texts and the questions to gain knowledge about the topic and how to read the passage. Typically, students sit down to a test and start reading passages without actively engaging their minds. In this eCoach, I have identified two problems with reading comprehension during a test and offer solutions that can help increase students' success.


Problem 1

Students need to build cognitive bridges from prior knowledge to new content. Readers rely on their own experiences to help them make accurate predictions about content and text structure.


Students will be able to read faster and comprehend more if they have some understanding of the text before they read it. Prior knowledge (or schema) can help students navigate through a text, helping them predict what a text will say and how it is organized. LiteracyTA offers a variety of prior knowledge skills that can get students test ready. Here are the steps to build prior knowledge during a test.

Problem 2

Large amounts of information must be read and understood quickly. Students struggle without a clear reading purpose or focus.


Reading with a purpose in mind will help students focus while reading long passages of text. Based on the questions, students can make decisions about what to read. Sometimes, test questions require very little reading and other times students will have to read the entire passage in order to answer questions about purpose, tone, and point of view. As students read, they should flag important ideas in the passage so they can quickly find important information.
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Want to learn about all 5 Active Test Taking Strategies? Check out LiteracyTA's Test Ready!

On day one, students need to feel that their teachers believe in them. They need to know that they can achieve. We can communicate “I can” messages through...

  • direct statements: “I believe that all of you can do very well…” (shuffle and repeat)
  • challenging assignments. When we challenge our students intellectually, we say to them, "I believe you can think, and learn, and produce amazing work!"
  • high expectations. When we hold every student accountable for meeting our expectations, we announce to the class, "I believe in you! Nothing is beyond your reach."

Our messages (whether they are explicitly stated or communicated by our expectations) make a tremendous impact on our students. They need our support. They need to know we care. And when they feel that we believe, they soar!


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