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Summary

We've now covered a number of different important reading skills in just two lessons. You should know how to read to find the main idea in the passage, find the main details of a passage, make inferences from a passage, infer character, and determine tone and mood. You have read fiction prose, poetry and plays, and should now be able to apply all of the skills you learned to these different genres.

We will now go over the key steps involved in each reading skill in order to reinforce what you have learned.

  1. When finding the main idea of a passage, ask yourself the following questions:
    1. What is the main idea of the passage? (Why did the author write it?)
    2. What is the topic sentence of each paragraph?
    3. How would you title the selection? (Helps find tone and mood)
  1. When finding the main details of a passage, ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Which examples illustrate the main point?
    2. What proof is there that supports the main idea?
    3. Which arguments are presented in favor of or against the main idea?
    4. What specific qualities are given that explain the idea or subject that is being defined?
    5. Is a larger group being broken down into smaller classifications? What are these classifications?
    6. What are the differences and similarities between two ideas or subjects that are being compared or contrasted?
  1. When making inferences from a passage, ask yourself the following questions:
    1. From the facts that I am given, what sort of conclusions can I draw?
    2. What is being suggested in addition to what is being explicitly stated?
    3. What kind of effect will come from something that is described?
    4. What will happen next? (After what is described in the passage)
    5. What sorts of applications does the idea presented have?
  1. When determining mood, ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Which words in the passage create an atmosphere or evoke an emotion?
    2. What does the authorís purpose seem to be?
    3. How does the use of adjectives and adverbs add to the feeling of the passage?
  1. When interpreting poetry, donít forget the following skills:
    1. Use your imagination to think beyond the first meaning of a word that you read. Remember that in poetry, words are often used figuratively.
    2. Since poetry uses a concentrated language to express large ideas, remember to try and fill in the blanks by thinking about what meanings and pictures are created through the use of metaphor and simile.
    3. Read the poem out loud! The rhythm or cadence (think: musicality) of the poem will emerge as you read.
    4. Pay attention to the rhymes used, as they will help you grasp some of the meaning.
    5. Pay attention to the sounds of the words used. For example, many authors will use alliteration, which is the repetition of the same sounds or kinds of sounds at the beginning of a sentence. For example, ďaround the ragged rock the rascal roamed.Ē
    6. Pay attention to the way the poem is divided; if there are consistencies or inconsistencies with the way the stanzas are divided, you may be able to glean information about the poem.
  1. When interpreting dramatic texts (plays), donít forget the following skills:
    1. Picture the setting. Often, you wonít be given any stage directions to indicate the actual setting, but you can deduce it from the speech and dialogue of the characters, as well as from any references they make to setting, clothing, temperature, etc.
    2. Try to visualize what the characters are doing while they are engaged in dialogue. What is the action?
    3. What are the characterís motives? Why are the characters speaking in the way that they are? Remember the example of Paris and Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Paris said only a few words, but they clearly indicated his desire to marry Capuletís daughter.
    4. Try to determine the character and personality of the figure. What kind of person would you normally associate with someone who speaks and acts like that character?
    5. Determine what conflict is taking place. Is it physical? Emotional? Ideological?
    6. Once again, try to predict what will happen next, after the passage ends.
    7. Like with poetry, try reading the scene aloud to understand the inferences that become clearer after hearing the rhythm of the dialogue.

    That sums up the skills that we have learned in this section: Language Arts, Reading. Now itís time to try out what youíve learned in the practice exam.

    Remember, the actual exam is comprised of 40 multiple-choice

    questions, and you will be given 65 minutes in which to answer them.

    The practice exam will be half that length, so remember that it should take you half the time. Good luck!


    Click on the link below to begin the Practice Exam.

Back: Reading Lesson 3 | Next: Reading Practice Test


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