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Beth Gonzales

GED Study Guide: Reading-Focused

GED reading study guide
You sit down to take the GED Reading test. You see an entire page completely filled with text. You have to read the full passage AND answer questions based on the reading. Where do you even start? Let us help! Your task will seem much less overwhelming if you take it one step at a time.

Reasoning Through Language Arts overview

The Reasoning Through Language Arts GED subject test focuses on reading, writing and English language conventions. Reading questions gauge your ability to read, comprehend and analyze 450-900 word passages. 75% of the exam texts used are informational (nonfiction) and 25% are literature based. Questions are multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer or drop-down format.
This guide focuses on the Reading Comprehension portion of the RLA. During this section you are asked to:

  • Read and understand text from a variety of levels
  • Make judgements based on reading passages
  • Support your claims/ideas using evidence found in text

Which means to successfully pass this portion of the GED, you need to be able to:

  • Determine a main idea
  • Determine a point of view; both the author’s and your own
  • Understand the meaning of words and phrases
  • Think critically about what you read

As you sit down to study, remember that the reading portion of the RLA is only 35-40 minutes long. Set a timer when you practice so that you begin to pace yourself as you read.

Start by finding practice reading materials

The GED uses text from a variety of sources. It can be difficult to find reading passages that fit the GED criteria: 450-900 words, college-ready level, and informational. Your local library is a great place to start. Look for books in the 1060L-1260 Lexile range. Focus on nonfiction reading that cover the topics of science, social studies or workplace information.
Lexile Reading Magoosh
Another great place to find reading material is online. Many websites provide free GED reading comprehension practice tests. You can find multiple passages complete with answer keys, making it easy to quiz yourself and track your progress. Take a free practice test through the GED Testing Service. Also check out GED Practice Questions, Test Prep Practice or Study Guide Zone for more options.

Skills to Focus On While Reading

Reading comprehension plays a large part in successfully passing the GED. Questions measure your ability to understand what is happening in the text and answer questions based on what you read.
Be ready for GED reading comprehension questions by reading 20-30 minutes every day! Practicing these tips and strategies while you read will help you study for this portion of the test more efficiently.

Read the questions and answers first

The GED tests more than just your memory. It tests your ability to analyze a question, think critically about the information provided, and select the best possible choice as your answer. As you read each question, ask yourself what it is asking.

    Identify the main theme?
    Compare or contrast ideas in the passage?
    Find important details in the text?

Reading the answers first helps you read smarter when looking at the passage because you already know what the test is looking for. It helps narrow your focus as you read so you don’t become overwhelmed by information.

Read to understand

Reading comprehension plays a large part in successfully passing the GED. Questions measure your ability to understand what is happening in the text and answer questions based on what you read. Information to look for while reading:

  • Main idea: the main idea of a text can be found by asking yourself, “What is this passage mostly about?” The title and opening paragraph can also provide clues for finding the main idea.
  • Details: look for details that support the main idea. Most passages contain at least three different supporting details, usually one per paragraph after the introductory paragraph.
  • Intent: the purpose of nonfiction writing is generally to inform the reader about a topic. To find the intent of a passage, ask yourself, “What is the author trying to teach me? Why did the author write this?”

Read and then reread

If you come to a difficult section in the text, read it again – out loud. Reading aloud helps slow down your pace so you can concentrate on the words. Rereading helps deepen your understanding of text, which in turn helps you better analyze and comprehend information when answering questions.
Remember: what you are reading should make always sense. If something doesn’t seem quite right, go back and check it. You may have misread some important information.

Define unknown words

A big part of reading comprehension is vocabulary. RLA texts are of varying levels of difficulty. Some are even from career and college-ready levels. There is a good chance you will encounter words that you haven’t read before.
If you come to a word you aren’t familiar with, don’t just skip over it – define it! Take notes while reading and track words you don’t know. Look up the definitions and record those as well. The action of writing helps your brain remember and retain information better than just reading alone.

Skills to Work on After Reading

The GED Reading section asks you to do more than just read a story. The GED measures your ability to think about a story by asking you to analyze a text, then make inferences or predictions. When you study, refer back to the text as often as you need to find the answers to your questions.

  • Analyze: when you analyze text, you dig deep into the passage. Practice asking yourself the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why) to form an educated opinion about what you read. For example, after reading an article about Shakespearean poetry, you could ask yourself, “Why was this article written? What was the author trying to teach me? Who is this passage about?”
  • Infer: An inference is when you interpret observations you make about the text. It’s like being a detective: as you read, look for clues to help you figure out things that aren’t being said. If an author describes a backyard with patches of grass missing and raggedy tennis balls strewn about, you might infer that the owner’s have a dog.
  • Predict: A prediction is an educated guess about what might happen next. It should be a logical next step to a story based on what you already read. As you read, stop every paragraph or so to ask yourself, “What is going to happen next?”

Continue your Progress

Reading comprehension practice can extend beyond GED practice tests. Research has shown that improving your vocabulary and critical thinking skills increases overall reading comprehension. Many online resources provide support for those skills absolutely free!
Hone your vocabulary skills at freerice or vocabulary.com. Visit lumosity.com to engage in fun activities that boost your brain. Set aside 15-30 minutes every day to continue your progress and improve your reading comprehension skills.
Need help with other GED subject tests? Learn more about GED prep and study tips at Magoosh.com.

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About Beth Gonzales

Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.

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