If you're struggling with the reading portion of the GKT, you're not alone! We see people every day who need help with reading for standardized tests. Reading for any test is a skill, and practice is essential. Here are some helpful tips to increase your success on the GKT reading test.
- Timing is everything! You have 55 minutes to read 4-5 passages (usually 4 with 1-2 of those being paired passages) and answer 40 questions. The number of questions per passage varies, so you won’t spend equal time on each one. A good rule of thumb when prepping and when taking the test is to spend 3 minutes quickly reading the passages to get the overall idea, then 1 minute per question. You will absolutely need to go back into the text as you attack the questions, so saving time for this is a must! Example:
Passage 1, 15 questions - 18 minutes
Passage 2, 10 questions - 13 minutes
Passage 3, 8 questions - 11 minutes
Passage 4, 7 questions - 10 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes
- Track your reading! Use your finger right on the screen or use your cursor; it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are keeping your place and your pace while actively and quickly reading. Not only is this a great test-day strategy, it is something you want to do every time you read to build your speed. If you’re practicing with printed text, use a pencil or pen and move it faster than your normal reading pace. Just like training for a race, you must push yourself and practice daily to increase your reading speed and comprehension.
- Use the notepad! As you read, jot down words and phrases that show an opinion or argument (look for “emotion” words) to help you establish author attitude and tone. Descriptive adjectives are another good thing to write down. Record any “a-ha” moments you have or things you think are important. On paired passages, take a few minutes to jot down the overall idea from passage A before reading passage B. Establish the relationship between the 2 as soon as you are done reading passage B. This will go a long way in helping you answer the questions.
- Pay close attention to the question stems! There are important phrases to help you determine exactly what the question is assessing. For example: “According to the passage,” “According to the author,” “Based on the selection,” and items similarly worded are key ideas and details questions. That means you will find the answer in the text, but the answer choice will NOT be worded exactly as it appears in the text. Look for a re-wording of that detail.
- Pay attention to “EXCEPT” or “NOT” in questions! It's really easy to miss these. Be vigilant and remember you are looking for the NOT. Eliminate the 3 choices that are in the text to reveal the 1 that is NOT.
- Pay attention to the tone! If the author is not taking a position or making a claim, the passage is informational, So look for neutral words or feelings to describe the tone. However, if the author is taking a position or arguing a point, the author's tone probably has feelings behind it, either negative or positive, so look for words that convey feelings.
- Attack the vocab strategically! When you see, “In this context __________ most nearly means,” you are obviously dealing with a vocabulary term. However, sometimes all 4 answer choices are synonyms/close synonyms of the word. Therefore, it is imperative to go back to the place in the text where the word is located and see which choice best fits the context. If you are not sure, use the plug-in method by replacing the word with each choice to see which one best fits. Any question that asks for relationships between sentences, sentences and the rest of the passage, or two passages is asking you to evaluate and synthesize information to draw conclusions about a concept or theme. Again, a simple detail cannot be the correct answer. The thought process for these questions is way more involved.
- Pay attention to extreme language. Look for extreme words like “never,” “always,” “solely,” etc. These are usually incorrect.
- USE earplugs or headphones! They really help you keep your head in the game. Wear them when you are prepping too!
A final word: Reading daily is the best way to build your speed, accuracy, vocabulary, and comprehension of difficult text. We recommend at least 20 minutes a day. Try our 21 day challenge by clicking HERE to sharpen your reading skills.
Below is a practice GKT reading passage, questions, and answer explanations. Try it out. And don't forget to time yourself!