Comprehending Reading Comprehension

If you survived the Quantitative Reasoning quest and are back for more, you may be relieved to know that the ISEE Reading Comprehension section is much less exciting.  In fact, it’s SO much less exciting for most students that I would definitely honor it with the title “Most likely to put students to sleep.”  In order to counteract this section’s infamous reputation for creating drowsiness, I’ve done my best to keep the long paragraphs to a minimum and condense the information into some more AMAZING charts!  Check out the timing, question number, and question types below:

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.46.37 PMReading Comp Question Types ChartAccording to the ERB, all passages of any level will average 450 words, although it states that for the Lower and Upper Level tests, passage length varies from 300 to 600 words.  The same variance may apply to Middle Level tests, though this is not explicitly stated by the ERB.  The reading passages can be from a variety of different sources and discuss many different topics in the following categories: history, science, literature, and contemporary life.  Because some questions refer to specific lines or words, line numbers are included in every passage to make reference to a particular line easy.  Gee, thanks, ERB test-makers!

Since reading comprehension is pretty familiar to most students, the intimidation factor tends to be pretty low.  So let’s dive right in and get a sample of the test questions for each level.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.39.28 PMLL Reading Comp Questions


Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.40.05 PMML Reading Comp Questions

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.40.19 PMUL Reading Comp Questions

As you can see, the passages and questions are tested in a fairly standard format—what most students would call “boring”.  Given that (for most students) there is no real “scare factor” when it comes to the format of the section, energy can easily sag after the adrenaline rush of the much shorter Verbal Reasoning section and the more eventful Quantitative Reasoning section.  This leads to be the biggest challenge when it comes to the ISEE Reading Comprehension section; after all, how do you read 5-6 passages full of historical dates, scientific jargon, and long quotations AND THEN answer questions just after having your brain fried by the Quantitative Reasoning section without falling victim to drooping eyelids and glazing over of the eyes…on a Saturday morning nonetheless??

There are many techniques to improve reading comprehension, and at UP, students are taught simple and useful strategies for both passage-reading and question-answering that will come in handy on the 3rd section of the ISEE and well beyond the test into their academic career.

Of course, you don’t have to take MY word for it (extra points for recognizing the Reading Rainbow reference), because you can always set up a free consultation with one of our experts that will help you comprehend MUCH more than just the reading passages.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of our ISEE expose series and can grasp the importance of developing your child’s reading comprehension skills.  Because, let’s face it, this will not be the last time they will have to suffer through seemingly endless writing excerpts filled with dozens of charts and arcane vocabu…wait a minute.  I sincerely hope you are sitting there thinking that this article is not nearly as boring as the reading comprehension passages!!  Just to be safe, I think I will wrap it up as quickly as possible.  In my defense, remember that I’m not making you answer any questions about what you read :-).

Join us for our next article when we’ll revisit the word of mathematics and help you to ACHIEVE a new understanding of the Math Achievement section.

See you next time!

Jenni and Erin (channeling LeVar Burton)

P.S. Fun fact from Wikipedia: On June 20, 2012, the Reading Rainbow App was released for the iPad and, within 36 hours, became the #1 most-downloaded educational app in the iTunes App Store.  Yes, I went there.

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