GED Reading Tips

The GED Reading test requires you to interpret a variety of reading passages including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. You will have 65 minutes total to answer 40 multiple-choice questions. Typically the questions are asked in the order the information appears in the passage. Follow these tips to get the most questions correct!

Predict an answer. Before you look at the answer choices, use the passage to predict your own answer. Then match your prediction to the answer choices. This will save you time. Don’t get stuck weighing answer choices. Match your prediction and move on!

Rephrase complicated questions. If you read a question and it is confusing or unclear to you, rephrase it in simpler terms. Think of it like you were going to explain the question to a small child. What is it really asking?

Put your finger on the answer. For passages, always refer back to the passage and place your index finger on the relevant information. Don’t rely on memory alone to answer the questions! Especially for nitty-gritty detail questions, you will have to go back to the line numbers mentioned in the question stem to get the right answer.

Always use process of elimination. Don’t try to guess the 1 correct answer out of 5. Instead, analyze each choice and determine which ones can be eliminated as obviously incorrect, then narrow it down more and more until you are left with one choice.  As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Don’t let the subject-matter confuse you. The Reading passages are typically taken from fiction, humanities, social studies, or other topics. The topics may be familiar to you, or completely foreign. If you’re feeling nervous about the details provided, try to focus on what you CAN understand: the topic, the author’s general opinion, and the main idea of the passage. Everything you need to know to get all the questions correct is right there on the page in front of you!

The correct answer will always answer the specific question being asked. Don’t choose an option simply because it’s a true statement or rephrases facts from the passage. Incorrect choices can be factual, but if they do not answer the specific question-at-hand, they are still wrong.

Wrong answer choices are often out of scope. The scope of the GED passage is what ABOUT the topic interests the author. What is his focus? Incorrect choices will involve info the author doesn’t focus on.

Look for the Tone. The author does not always have a strong “voice” in GED passages, but it’s important to try to “read between the lines” and see if he has specific feelings about the topic. If you have a hard time finding the author’s opinion, it may simply be that he doesn’t have one! Some passages are more neutral/informational, and that’s okay too.

Pause and summarize. As you read, stop at the bottom of each paragraph to synthesize what you just read. Jot down short notes if that helps you focus. Don’t wait until you finish the entire passage to start thinking critically. Practice “active” reading by asking yourself questions as you go along. It will help keep you focused, and let the details of the passage stay with you.