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D I P L O M A P R E P
Reading Comprehension
Strategies
Test Creation Considerations
 Well–constructed MC questions test a range of
knowledge and skills involving higher levels ...
Test Creation Considerations
 Historically, most diplomas have 7-10- texts with
corresponding questions and students have...
Test Creation Considerations
 The reading selections and corresponding questions
of a Diploma exam are created in a strat...
Test taking strategies – before students begin
 Because the test is created in a strategic manner,
students should approa...
Test taking strategies – before students begin
 Students need to ensure that they not only read the
selection but also an...
Test taking strategies – during the exam
 When reading, students should track with their finger or
pencil. This helps to ...
Test taking strategies – before the exam
 Unfamiliar vocabulary - (This a section that
should be prepared for prior to th...
Test taking strategies – during the exam
During the exam
 When an unfamiliar word is found in the selected reading, stude...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Have students complete the questions in the order that
they appear in the question series. ...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Students must pay attention to key words or phrases from
the question stem.
 Key words to ...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 When the stem uses words or phrases such as best,
most clearly, most directly, most strongl...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 When a question refers to specific lines in the stem
or the alternatives, be sure that stud...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Students should look for parallels between the stem
and the correct alternative.
 Example
...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Look for key words within the stem that have
synonyms or parallel meanings in the alternati...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Linked readings and/or questions require students
to “carry forward” information from a str...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Upon completing the section of questions, review
that selection immediately.
 Do not have ...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Upon reviewing answers, students should only
change answers if they are convinced they have...
Test Taking Strategies cont.
 Never leave questions blank.
 Students should make educated guesses if they are
stuck. Rem...
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  1. 1. D I P L O M A P R E P Reading Comprehension Strategies
  2. 2. Test Creation Considerations  Well–constructed MC questions test a range of knowledge and skills involving higher levels of thinking.  As a result, the selections included in the test are going to range in difficulty.  Three levels of text complexity are included:  Level one – straightforward texts: These are relatively uncomplicated, direct and conventional.  Level two – more complex texts: features are relatively complicated, more varied and more abstract. Students must infer, evaluate and explore implications of complex meanings.  Level three –Sophisticated texts: subtle, challenging and frequently abstract. Students must identify subtle tone or mood in order to establish purpose, theme or main ideas.  Likewise, questions given for a specific text will also range in difficulty (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy).
  3. 3. Test Creation Considerations  Historically, most diplomas have 7-10- texts with corresponding questions and students have up to 3.0 hours to complete. Therefore, students have approximately 18-21 minutes to spend with each text. This is ample time; however, it is important that students budget and monitor their time accordingly.  As soon as students get their exam, they should look through their booklet, determine how many texts there are and how much time they can spend with each. This should help alleviate test anxiety around running out of time.
  4. 4. Test Creation Considerations  The reading selections and corresponding questions of a Diploma exam are created in a strategic manner. Difficult passages/selections tend to be placed earlier in the exam so that they may be tackled by the student when they are fresh.  The initial selection, however, tends to be a selection that is accessible for the majority of students and is intended to provide students with some confidence in moving forward.
  5. 5. Test taking strategies – before students begin  Because the test is created in a strategic manner, students should approach the exam in the order in which it is laid out. Do not attack segments based on genre and the desire to get a section completed.  The first thing a student should do when approaching the selection and the family of questions associated with it is to read the question’s stems. This will allow students to direct and focus their thinking while they read the selection.  Stem- it is the question or partial statement leading to possible alternatives.
  6. 6. Test taking strategies – before students begin  Students need to ensure that they not only read the selection but also any preambles, introductions or footnotes provided.  These supplementary notes are important as they often establish context for the text, provide clarification of unfamiliar words or allusions and / or give insight into character, tone or thematic ideas.
  7. 7. Test taking strategies – during the exam  When reading, students should track with their finger or pencil. This helps to focus the reader, prevents skimming materials and enhances reading speed.  Additionally, students need to actively engage in their reading by making notes in the margins, underlining key ideas or segments, and circling unfamiliar words. This interaction will deepen their understanding and interpretation of the text.  Having pre-read the question stems, students can also identify textual evidence that relates to a question by highlighting, starring or identifying the question in the margin. Remember, all answers should be supported with evidence from the text.  Thus, these notes will be helpful when selecting the correct answer to the question. As well as when a students is reviewing their answers at the completion of the selection.
  8. 8. Test taking strategies – before the exam  Unfamiliar vocabulary - (This a section that should be prepared for prior to the writing of the exam).  Students should spend the semester preparing for vocabulary that they may see on the diploma. See vocabulary lists that have been given as well have students create their own vocabulary list throughout the semester based on their experiences with practice diploma exam selections.
  9. 9. Test taking strategies – during the exam During the exam  When an unfamiliar word is found in the selected reading, students should use contextual clues in surrounding sentences to identify its meaning.  Read one sentence before the sentence the word is found in and one sentence after and then make an educated prediction about its meaning.  When it is found in the question stem, look for clues in the stem itself as to its meaning.  Have the student replace the word with a synonym that they believe would work and see if it makes sense.  When an unknown word is found in isolation as an alternative possibility, there is little that can be done. Thus, prior learning knowledge and preparation are essential.
  10. 10. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Have students complete the questions in the order that they appear in the question series. They have been developed to increase in difficulty with each question; therefore, more accessible questions are at the beginning.  Also, upon concluding the section of questions, students should be able to see a consistency between all of their answers. If an answer is inconsistent with others, they should review and ensure their choice is the best alternative. Like in literature, artistic unity will be demonstrated through the questions and answers as well.
  11. 11. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Students must pay attention to key words or phrases from the question stem.  Key words to watch for include: parallel, contrast, contradict, suggest, imply, etc. These are not always bolded thus can be missed if read quickly or carelessly.  Note: Test creator’s will create a possible alternative for students who miss or disregard this key word. Students then believe the answer is obvious – but it is, in fact, obviously wrong upon closer reading. Example:  The line that most clearly contradicts King Philip’s claim that King John has “Cut off the sequence of posterity” (line 15) is a. “our just and lineal entrance to our own” (line 4) b. “upon the maiden virtue of the crown” (line 7) c. “From whom hast thou this great commission, France” (line 29) d. “Alack, thou dost usurp authority” (line 37)
  12. 12. Test Taking Strategies cont.  When the stem uses words or phrases such as best, most clearly, most directly, most strongly, students must discern which choice represents the greatest amount of truth or validity between the alternatives.
  13. 13. Test Taking Strategies cont.  When a question refers to specific lines in the stem or the alternatives, be sure that students reread these specific lines.  The answer may be found specifically in this segment but must be consistent with the entire piece in relation to character development, tone, theme etc.  If the question stem indicates “in lines ...” the question is referencing those lines directly. Focus specifically on them and what they are suggesting.
  14. 14. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Students should look for parallels between the stem and the correct alternative.  Example A statement in which Shakespeare uses the techniques of simile and allusion is a. “You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,/whose valor plucks dead lions by the beard” (lines 58-59_ b. “It lies as sightly on the back of him/ As great Alcides’ shows upon an ass” (lines 64-65) c. “What cracker is this same that deafs our ears” (line 68) d. “My life as soon! I do defy thee, France” (line 76)
  15. 15. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Look for key words within the stem that have synonyms or parallel meanings in the alternative.  Example: The speaker uses the examples of the nonreturnable shirt (line 26) and the irretrievable words in an argument (lines30-34) to suggest that a. Innocence cannot be regained b. Sorrow results from misadventure c. Truth must prevail in relationships d. Youth cannot adapt to circumstances
  16. 16. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Linked readings and/or questions require students to “carry forward” information from a straight- foward text in order to apply contextual knowledge to subsequent readings.  As such, it is important that students reference both texts when answering these questions.
  17. 17. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Upon completing the section of questions, review that selection immediately.  Do not have them wait until they have completed the entire test as details of each text are no longer top of mind.  Additionally, this eliminates the need to reread the entire selection to be able to answer one or two challenging questions.
  18. 18. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Upon reviewing answers, students should only change answers if they are convinced they have made an error or if they have found textual proof to warrant their change.  If they are unsure, they should remain with their initial response.  Often students will second guess their response and make a change, only to find out that their “gut” or initial response was correct.
  19. 19. Test Taking Strategies cont.  Never leave questions blank.  Students should make educated guesses if they are stuck. Remember the answers will be consistent in theme, tone, character, etc so choose the option that is most consistent with the rest of your answers.

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