When it comes time to begin the Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) module of the GED test, don’t worry—you’ve got this!
First of all, Reasoning Through Language Arts is just a way to gauge your reading and writing skills, so don’t be intimidated.
Second, GED Testing Service will support your study efforts by offering you seven top reading strategies that can help you on the RLA modules of the GED test with confidence and ease. Many of these strategies can even help you on the other three modules of the GED test, as well!
1. Monitor Your Understanding
As you read, think about what you already understand and what you need to learn. This keeps your mind engaged, rather than allowing it to wander to other thoughts or mindlessly scan the text without internalizing it.
Scenario: You’re reading about the Civil War and come to a word you don’t understand. You can either stop immediately and try to come up with its meaning before moving on, or you can continue on, coming back to the word at the end of the sentence or paragraph.
Which should you do? Keep reading! Often the meaning of the word will become clear on its own, and you won’t have to interrupt the flow of incoming information.
2. Form a Visual
Form a mental picture of the story being told. You can even imagine the sounds, smells, and feel of what’s being described to solidify the scene and empathize with the narrative’s subject.
Scenario: The author has written about a character walking through the forest. Imagine yourself walking through that same forest. Are you cold? Do you smell pine needles? What can you see in the shadows?
This exercise can help you recognize the character and appreciate the scene in deeper detail.
3. Connect Personal Experiences
Relate what you’re reading with your own experiences. This makes the text more understandable and meaningful and provides a foundation for building new information and comprehension.
Scenario: The text subject is a volcanic eruption in Ecuador. What else do you know about volcanoes that wasn’t included in what you’re reading? What do you know about Ecuador? Have you experienced any natural disasters yourself?
Combine your prior knowledge and experiences with the new content to get a broader view of the story.
4. Ask Questions
Stimulate your thinking by asking questions before, during, and after you read the text. This helps you clarify what you’re reading, determine what information is missing, and figure out the writer’s purpose.
Scenario: If you’re reading about a politician giving a speech, ask yourself questions. Why did she say that? How did she come to her conclusion? What is her audience’s reaction?
We already do this in our daily interactions—just apply the same principle to the page.
5. Look for Signals
Read between the written lines to find meaning and discover what the author is really saying. At different points in the text, pause and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?” Then answer your question by thinking critically about the clues the author gives.
Scenario: If the author didn’t give a reason for a character’s action, you can still come to an accurate conclusion based on surrounding evidence.
For example, Sean slammed the door after reading a note. You can guess that Sean was mad at what was written in the note, even though the author didn’t specifically say so.
6. Prioritize Information
Determine the most important bits of information and organize them relative to each other. This helps you know what to remember and what you don’t need to retain.
Scenario: In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, the key information includes the main characters (Atticus, Scout, and Jem), basic storyline (a false accusation against a black man), and conclusion (Tom Robinson’s guilty verdict). A vital element of the story is how the townspeople’s prejudice contributed to the trial’s outcome.
Examples of irrelevant details in the story are the ages of the characters and the details of the crime that was supposedly committed.
7. Summarize in Simple Words
Pull out the main points of the story, organize them in a logical way, and retell them in your own words. Don’t forget to include the most important elements that support the conclusion (and don’t worry about the irrelevant details).
Scenario: After reading about the Big Bang Theory of how the universe began, imagine how you would explain this theory to someone who had never heard about it before.
Would you recite the entire text, use long words, and go into great scientific detail? No, you’d simplify terms and only tell the basic ideas behind the theory.
Create Your GED Account
It can feel overwhelming to study for the Reasoning Through Language Arts module of the GED test—but we’ve put together this list to ease that burden, not to add to it. These are tools that can help you excel on the test.
Don’t think you have to memorize and use all seven of these best reading strategies on every question. Practice using each of these reading strategies before you take the test. Or, simply choose one or two of the strategies that work well for your learning style. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself using them without even realizing it.
But before you begin studying and practicing, create your online GED account!