Reasoning Through Language Arts Study Guide for the GED Test

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Reading Comprehension Content Questions (RLA Parts 1 and 3)

To do well on the Reading Comprehension questions you will see on the GED test, you will need to be able to:

  • Read for understanding of the text, be able to make judgments based on that reading, and support your ideas with evidence from the text.

  • Be able to read and understand texts from a variety of levels, including those at the college- and career-readiness level.

Three Levels of Understanding

In order to be successful on the RLA section of the test, you will need to be able to understand what you read on several different levels.


This is the simplest level of reading comprehension and just requires you to find facts within a reading passage. You might have to slightly reword the facts, but everything you need to answer this type of question is in the passage…you just have to find it. Keep in mind that only about 20% of the questions on the test are on this level.


You might read part of a manual dealing with safety precautions when installing an appliance and practice finding bits of information within that reading that deal with safety around water, around pets, or near children, etc. Be sure to learn how to word things differently than they were worded in the reading passage.


This question level will ask you to take the information stated in the passage and do something with it. You might have to put it in a certain order, like most important to least important to the subject of the passage. The question may ask you to classify, find a pattern, or somehow organize the information given.


Using the same passage as in the above example, you might be asked to tell the meaning of a word, based on the surrounding words and sentences in the passage. Another question might ask you to identify the main point of the passage.

Going Beyond the Text

At this level of question, you will need to take the text and go further with the ideas presented in print. You will have to use prior general knowledge to support your answer as you do things like explain, predict, or summarize ideas in the passage. These types of questions are answered by writing a short answer yourself, usually requiring 10 minutes or less.


Again, using the appliance installation manual mentioned above, you might be asked this question: “Based on the information in the passage, tell about one problem you might encounter with installation if you only had the facts presented in this passage and no prior knowledge of the function of this appliance.”

Specific Skills to Practice


Questions on comprehension require you to read a passage, select a piece of information from the passage, and choose the answer that best restates the information. This may be difficult for some, as deciphering the meaning of a single sentence or passage can be tricky. When you encounter these questions, try to restate information yourself and choose the answer that best fits your own restated phrase. This allows you to come to a conclusion yourself, rather than immediately trying to choose a restated sentence or phrase from the answer choices.


Read a passage and then create a summary, in your own words, of the ideas presented. Check your summary with the passage to make sure you included all of the primary points the author of the passage discussed and that your summary communicates the same message.


Inference means to take what the author has said and develop a statement that should be true, based on what the author stated. For example, if an author described a person in a passage using terms like playful, joking, and lighthearted, you could infer that the person was in a good mood.


This aspect of the Reading test requires you to take information offered in a passage and apply it to real-life situations or situations offered on the test. You may be asked to read a passage or set of instructions, for instance, then apply that passage to a question regarding a product’s function or a real-world problem. To prepare for the application aspect of the Reading test, practice reading information and applying it to real-life situations and problems—even if that means reading a manual for a simple electronic appliance and following the instructions.


This involves making a judgment about things like the effect of the author’s use of certain words or structure of the passage helps to convey ideas. A question might ask you to “take apart” the action of a character in the passage in order to define what his actions communicate about his personality. Practice breaking down sentences in a passage in order to figure out what the author is trying to tell the reader.


When you synthesize material, you take multiple smaller points or ideas and combine these into one main idea or statement which will hold true for the whole passage. You might be asked to plug these ideas into a different situation, based on the facts given in a reading passage. Practice finding several smaller ideas that contribute to the entire message of a passage, then put them together to apply them to a different situation.

Practice Tips and Tricks

  • Read lots of non-fiction material because 75% of the passages on the test come from informational text and span the topics of science, social studies, and workplace information.

  • Read passages on different levels of difficulty, like those which will be on the test.

  • Concentrate on learning the meaning of words that appear across several disciplines and don’t worry so much about vocabulary that is unique to one field of study.

  • Be familiar with U.S. founding documents and “The Great American Conversation” that followed.

  • Practice reading and understanding passages between 450 and 900 words.

  • Be sure you read for more than stated facts. About 80% of the questions in this section will require you to not only recall stated information, but to do something with that information, such as organize, analyze, or apply it to a new situation.

  • Preparing well for this section of the test will also help your performance in the Social Studies and Science sections as there will be similar reading tasks involved in those GED section tests.

If you read a little bit each day and practice these types of strategies as you read, your experience with the Reading Comprehension questions will be much less intimidating.

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