Praxis Core Reading measures your fluency and comfort with academic reading at the high school and early college level. The Reading tasks are easier and more straightforward than reading on other graduate exams such as the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT. Still, if you don’t do a lot of spare-time reading or haven’t taken an English class in a few years, Praxis Core Reading can be a little challenging. In this post, we’ll look at 10 things you can do to re-acclimate to academic reading and master your Core Reading skills for a top score.
1. Practice reading. The best way to improve your reading skills is to read as much as you can. So practice, practice, practice. And don’t just read anything. Seek out Praxis-like reading materials. Core Reading Praxis materials are light reading related to science, art, history, and other common academic subjects. Read content from popular news and education websites and read texts meant for high school learners and first year college students.
2. Practice writing. Writing and reading have a symbiotic relationship. If you write on a regular basis, you’ll have a better understanding of other people’s writing. Take opportunities to write a little bit each day, whether you’re journaling, posting your thoughts to social media, or writing practice essays for the Praxis Core.
3. Understand the different question types. There are two main types of questions on Praxis Core Reading: content questions that ask about specific information in the text, and analysis questions that prompt you to analyze a reading passage on a deeper level. Within those two categories, there are several additional subtypes of questions. Know the question types and subtypes. Make note of the kinds of questions you excel at and they question types you struggle with. Then build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses during practice.
4. “Read outward” to find the answers to detail questions. When questioned about a specific detail in the passage, look first at the words immediately surrounding the detail. Very often you’ll find the answer right there. But if you don’t, start checking further back—the sentences before and after the detail, and then the whole surrounding paragraph if need be. This is the fastest, most efficient way to answer narrowly focused Core Reading Questions.
5. Check for main ideas when answering a “whole passage” question. Some Reading questions are about the entire passage. You may be asked to state the passage’s main idea or purpose, summarize its organization structure, infer the author’s opinions, or identify the passage’s chief argument. It can be tempting to try to read the whole passage to get the answer, but the answer will be easier to find if you simply skim the passage for the most important ideas. The beginnings and ends of passages often reveal the claim, purpose, or main idea. And if you can identify the main idea of each paragraph, you can identify the passage’s structure.
6. Learn to understand vocabulary in context. Praxis Reading vocabulary is comparable to the words you learned in high school, and matches the vocabulary level of many popular newspapers, magazines and websites. So memorizing long lists of vocabulary words that might appear in the Praxis is not really necessary. Still, there are over one million words in the English language, and it’s always possible to encounter a word or phrase you don’t understand. The real skill you need to build is understanding written words in context.
7. Keep an eye out for synonyms of keywords in the passages, questions, and answer choices. Often the question and answer choices will paraphrase ideas form the passage, using synonyms to the keywords from the reading. For instance, a question or answer choice might talk about something being “left out” or “missing,” while the original passage will use a synonym such as “absent.” Recognize these kinds of connections quickly, and you’ll have good pace and accuracy in Core Reading.
8. Read every word of any infographic you see. Some Praxis questions are based on information from graphic organizers such as charts, tables, and graphs. Charts contain less information than passages, so they can’t really be skimmed. Check all details in a visual carefully as you answer related comprehension questions. By the final question of a visual-based Core Reading activity, you should have read every word in the graphic organizer.
9. Make sure you are comfortable with infographics and visual literacy by test day. Praxis Core Reading uses infographics to test your visual literacy. Informational visuals can seem simple enough at a glance. But infographics are surprisingly easy to misread if you don’t have much experience reading charts, graphs, tables, weekly schedules, and so on. Seek out graphs and charts in your reading practice. They’re especially common on news and business websites. With practice, you can get very comfortable with visually formatted information, and this can serve you well on test day.
10. When analyzing an argument, don’t make too big of a leap. Avoid ifs when analyzing an argument and looking for inferences. For example, never tell yourself that the author might be implying something if a certain situation is true. Make judgements about arguments and implications based only on facts and situations that are clearly, directly communicated by the writer.
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