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How Do I Choose the Best Critical Reading Exercise?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Learning or teaching critical reading can be vastly enhanced by choosing the best types of critical reading exercises. While there is no set rule on which exercises are best, considering the reading level and subject material of the exercise is a good way to get started. Some experts suggest looking for a critical reading exercise that demonstrates comprehension by requiring the student to write an analytical response to the material. If preparing for a standardized test where critical reading skills are required, it may help to find practice tests specific to the type of examination.

When choosing a critical reading exercise, it may help to consider the existing knowledge of the student. While the study of critical reading can begin as early as kindergarten, the appropriate reading level and subject material for a six year old is likely to be quite different than that for a teenager. For young students, look for exercises that are simple and help outline only one principle of critical reading at a time; for instance, students might read a short paragraph about bunnies, then have to summarize what they learned in a single sentence. For students at a higher reading level, look for more complex exercises that not only cover reading comprehension, but require an analysis of the author's tone and the intention of the material.

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To help improve the absorption of the material, look for a critical reading exercise that relies on a demonstration of skills. If students are simply told to read and think about a passage, they may not do the work at all, and there is no way to assess their level of understanding. A critical reading exercise that requires the student to answer multiple choice questions might be somewhat better, but can still allow the possibility of correct answers through random guessing. Superior critical reading exercises often require the students to respond in their own voices, through written responses. These responses can then be examined by the teacher, who can then help hone and improve critical reading skills by suggesting improvements.

Since reading skills are often tested as a part of standardized examinations, it may help to find a critical reading exercise tailored to a specific test. Practice tests are frequently offered by the standardized testing company itself, as booklets or through online testing tools. The upside to a practice test is that it can allow students to gain a feel for the type of questions asked on the test and how responses are graded. While this method can help improve testing scores, it may not be the best way to teach overall comprehension of critical reading, since it focuses on teaching students to do well within the parameters of the test, not the subject at large.

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