Page 1 Reading Study Guide for the TABE

How to Prepare for the TABE Reading Test

General Information

There is just one section of Reading on each level of the TABE test, but we have divided our practice questions into two parts, each of which deals with a different type of reading skills. Be sure to practice in both areas and spend extra time in one if you have more difficulty there.

Our Study Guide, however, is “all-in-one” and includes ideas for reviewing for both kinds of questions. Here are some of the basic skills you’ll need to master in order to do well on the TABE Reading test.

Reading: Recall

Some Reading questions will simply require you to understand material you read and find specific information in it. These are some of the things you’ll need to know.

Topic and Main Idea

The topic and main idea of a work are the focus of the work. Topic and main idea are not synonymous, but do share a relationship: the topic is the general focus of the piece, while the main idea is the narrowed focus. For instance, a topic for a paper might be “government,” while a main idea might be “the government needs to engage in better money management.” The two are closely related, but are not identical.

Supporting Details

Supporting details are the details found in a piece that support the main idea. Using the example above, supporting details would provide more insight into why the government needs more effective money management and how it might go about achieving those money management skills.

Theme of a Passage

The theme of a passage is the overarching topic or subject. The theme of a nonfiction work might be “the potential dangers of working night shifts,” while a fiction work might have a theme of “personal redemption.” In nonfiction pieces (including academia), the theme is typically more detailed, while a fiction work is likely able to be summed up in a single word or phrase.

Meaning from Graphic Information

Graphic information requires identifying and disassembling several different pieces. It includes a wide variety of graphs and charts: bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, plot lines, tables, charts, and graphic organizers. These graphs and charts contain elements such as titles, labels, lines, and bars.

When looking at graphic information, first look at the title. The title identifies the purpose and focus on the graph. Next, look at the labels. In a bar or line graph, for instance, there are typically two labels: one for the vertical line and one for the horizontal line. Matching up these lines will deliver the graph’s information.

In a graph without two lines, such as a pie graph, look at the sections of the graph. This type of graph likely delivers percentage or other numeric information.

Finding the Answer in a Passage

Finding the answer in a passage requires several steps. To begin, read the question thoroughly and identify what is needed. From there, skim through the passage in question, keeping an eye out for key words related to the question. After you have identified key words, eliminate unnecessary or irrelevant information. Finally, take the information found and answer the question to the best of your ability.

Using Context Clues

Context clues are extremely helpful in identifying meaning. A context clue is a hint or suggestion as to what a word or concept might mean, surrounding the word or concept in question. To identify context clues, first identify the word or concept in need of further expounding or definition. Next, look at the words and sentences surrounding the word. What is the attitude of the surrounding words? What is the tone? Given the context of the word or phrase, what is the most likely meaning for that word or phrase? Answering this question will result in effectively using context clues.