As fall fast approaches, and everyone heads back to school, it’s a good idea to consider strategies that will help you move forward on a successful learning path. By considering several tips listed below which may or may not come as a surprise to you, you will improve your scores on reading comprehension tests and be well on your way to hitting the important benchmarks in your academic career.

 1. Read the questions first

Too many students think that the best way to approach reading comprehension tests is to read the whole passage, internalize it for a few moments, and then begin answering the questions. In fact, the best approach is to read the questions that correspond to a reading passage before you even begin to read. Reading the questions first will give you an idea of what content to look for and that will be relevant to answering the questions. This technique will also provide you with the keywords that you should be focusing on as you read.

2. Scan the passage

Whatever you do, do not read the whole passage word for word! Your brain can read and process information much faster than you thinkit can, and scanning the passages on a reading test is an excellent way to improve your reading score. Instead of focusing on minute details, scan the beginning and end of the reading passages for the main idea. There will almost always be a question that asks you to identify the main idea or thesis of a reading passage. By scanning passages, you will also be able to search quickly for the keywords that you identified as you read the questions. By following this technique, it is entirely possible to train yourself to scan a 600 word reading passage in just 2 minutes, which would leave you plenty of time to answer the corresponding questions.

3. Read all of the answer choices

Once you have finished scanning the reading passage and are ready to answer the questions, be sure to read all of the answer choices listed for a particular test question. Even if you believe you have the correct answer after seeing the question, review all of the answer choices. Doing this will help ensure that you select the correct answer, considering that tests are often designed to test your ability to select the best possible answer choice.

These three strategies will surely help you to improve your scores on upcoming reading tests, and they will also give you a leg up on test preparation for any upcoming professional entrance exams (e.g. LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, GRE). Good luck!