Reading: Levels E, M, D, and A Study Guide for the TABE Test

Page 1

General Information

TABE test levels progress as follows in level of difficulty: L, E, M, D, and A. The skills discussed in this study guide are labeled with the level of the test in which they are assessed (L, E, M, D, and/or A). While a skill may not be specifically tested at a level, if it was tested at a previous level, you are responsible for being able to use it in succeeding levels. So, it’s a good idea to be sure you are fluent in every skill listed for your level and those before. For example, if you are studying for test level D, be sure you understand and can use all skills from levels L, E, and M, as well.

Before taking the TABE Reading test, you’ll take a locator test to determine your appropriate testing level. For reading, the locator test takes about 35 minutes to complete.

After that, no matter which TABE level you take, you will have 50 minutes to complete each of the two parts of the Reading test (100 minutes total).

The Level L Reading test is not read out loud to students.

[Phonological Awareness] (level L, only)

Percentage of Test Level Specifically Assessing These Skills (— = Assumed)


Phonological awareness involves understanding that letters represent sounds in words and work together to give meaning. You should also be able to divide words into syllables and put syllables together to form words. These are prerequisites for phonics skills. If you can read this study guide, you are probably well-versed in phonological awareness. We do not have any specific review for this very basic reading skill, but advise you to search for the term and take advantage of online resources or contact an adult education advisor if you have difficulty with this concept.

Phonics and Word Recognition ( L , E)

Percentage of Test Level Specifically Assessing These Skills (— = Assumed)

23% 16%

There are two basic tools for word recognition: the knowledge of a number of “sight words” and a facility with phonics.

Sight Words

These are words that you don’t have to “sound out” but just know on sight. For beginning readers, these are words like the, and, he, they, etc. As your reading improves, your list of known sight words lengthens and includes such words as beautiful, probably, and other longer words. Sight words are important because if you have to stop and sound out every single word, the meaning of what you are reading gets lost.

Phonics and Word Analysis

Phonics is the task of connecting letters to the sounds they make when forming a word and using that knowledge to identify new words. It’s more than just knowing the basic letters and their sounds, though. You’ll need to know the various sounds of word parts, as well. For example, the word part ough sounds different in the words though, thought, and bough, as does ow in how and bow. It can seem complicated, but if you use word analysis as well, you can learn to figure out many unknown words. Here is an example:

  • Look at the word complicate.
  • First, divide it into parts: com-pli-cate.
  • The first two parts sound just like they are spelled, assuming both vowels are short.
  • As for the last part, you might think it was cat, but you know the phonics rule about a final e causing the other vowel to “say its name,” so you know it is a long a sound, which makes it sound like Kate.
  • There, you can now say the whole word.

All Study Guides for the TABE Test are now available as downloadable PDFs