How to Analyze a Reading Passage | Reading

March 15, 2016 Jennifer Brandt

How to Analyze a Reading Passage | Reading 

You may be preparing for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ now, but once you pass and take your next steps in life, you’ll undoubtedly take the knowledge and skills you learned while studying for the TASC test with you. One important skill that will prove essential throughout your life is analyzing.

To analyze is to examine information thoroughly so you can interpret and explain what you’ve read. In reading, analyzing is sometimes called critical reading. 

The TASC test requires you to:

  • Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of a text.
  • Analyze how an author unfolds a series of ideas or events, including:
    • The order in which the points are made
    • How they are introduced and developed
    • The connections that are drawn between them

Tips to Successfully Analyze What You’re Reading 

Analyzing is critical to your academic and professional success. When you’re asked to read a passage (like on the TASC test) or an article, essay, report, or book (like you may be asked in higher education or for your job), follow these four tips from the West Virginia Department of Education to help you analyze what you’re reading.

  1. Skim.

Quickly read the passage once and look for the main idea. Don’t get caught up in the details just yet. If you don’t recognize a word or phrase, circle it, but continue reading.

  1. Define unfamiliar words.

Once you’ve completed your initial skim, come back to the unfamiliar words or phrases you previously circled. Use context clues to define unfamiliar words and phrases. This will help advance your understanding of what you’re reading.

  1. Slowly re-read.

Read the passage a second time in a slow manner. Try to fully grasp what the author wants you to know. The West Virginia Department of Education recommends asking yourself these questions:

  • “What idea does everything in this passage talk about?”
  • “Under what main idea could all statements or points fit under?”
  • “Why did the author write this?”
  • “Who is the author writing this for?”
  1. Arrive at the main idea.

When you think you’ve grasped the main idea, write it down or underline it in the passage. If you find more than one main point, note all of them. One or more of these points could be supporting ideas to the main point.

If you are taking the paper-based version of the TASC test, you can write notes on the passage as you read and analyze. Referencing these notes will help you answer the reading questions that relate to the passage.

If you are taking the computer-based version of the TASC test, you may be able to use a piece of paper to jot down notes. This will depend on your test center’s rules and regulations, so make sure you ask the test center administrator what you’re allowed to bring and use on test day.

Ready to earn your high school equivalency? Find your test center and register for the TASC test.

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