Supplemental Resource Guide
Reading Placement Test
You have taken the reading placement test at Elgin Community College (ECC) and you did not place into RDG090, the lowest level developmental reading course the college offers. What do you do now?
The first step is to determine Why? Look at the list below and decide which of the following categories best describes your situation.
I was in a hurry to complete the test and did not take enough time.
What to do:
- Retake the test when you have more time to concentrate.
I was not feeling well.
What to do:
- Retake the test on a day when you are well and feeling relaxed and rested.
I did not prepare for the test beforehand.
What to do:
- Review the preparation materials posted:
- See the Reading placement test section.
Students often think they are poor test-takers. They may be anxious, second-guess themselves, and hurry through the test to relieve stress. If this description fits you, we would suggest that you retake the reading placement test and following the recommendations below.
- Practice taking reading comprehension tests. Read a paragraph, set it aside for 10 minutes, then go back and see if you can recall what it was about. Verbalize this out loud, or have someone else “test” you.
- Take your time. Do not try to speed through the test. You need to read the material completely and be sure you understand what is being stated and what the question asks.
- Breathe while you are taking the test! Oxygen gets to the brain, the mind relaxes, and memory improves.
- While you cannot bring notes into the testing room, you can take scratch paper and make notes as you read the testing passages to help you remember information.
- Read the questions before you read the paragraph or article, so your brain knows what it is looking for.
If you learned a language other than English first and you struggle with comprehension of written English, you may have found the reading placement test difficult. It was good that you took the test because now you have an idea of how well you comprehend written English.
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes may help you to strengthen your reading comprehension skills. If you’d like to know more about these classes, contact the ESL outreach coordinator, to discuss your options for improving your English language skills – email@example.com or 847-214-6975. Even one semester of ESL classes can strengthen your comprehension skills and then you can retake the placement test.
If you were a poor or weak reader in elementary and high school, and/or if you avoided reading because you did not like to read, your score on the placement test would reflect this. Reading is a skill, like any other, and only improves with practice. If you want a college degree, you will need to get serious about reading. The following recommendations will help you build your reading comprehension skills and prepare to retake the reading placement test at a later time.
- Read something every day, at least for 10 minutes. When finished, ask yourself what you just read. If you can’t put what you read into words - out loud, re-read the same passage, this time out loud, and try again.
- If the above task is still difficult after a few weeks, read easier material, and begin again. Go to the public library and get books at an elementary grade level. Begin with the material you can read easily and smoothly and remember. Then progress to more difficult reading materials as you strengthen your reading skills.
- Once you can restate what a higher level passage was about, read a longer article. Begin with concrete subjects you are interested in. Even popular magazines are fine. The idea is to comprehend what you’re reading and restate it out loud.
- Next, ask yourself questions about the article you’ve read: Who was it about? What did they do? When did they do this? Why did they do this? Where was this happening? How did they accomplish what they did? This will help you practice for the reading placement test.
- Next, ask the What if question: What if they hadn’t done this in this way? Or, what if I tried to do this? Or another version of a What-if question. These questions won’t have an answer in the article, but they move your thought process from the written information to the next level of understanding, which will also be expected on the reading placement test.
- After a diligent 6 months of this practice, come in and retake the reading placement test. Remember, if you were not a strong, dedicated reader, you would not improve overnight. You will need time and diligent practice.
If none of the above ideas helped you do better when you retested, you should speak to the Disability coordinator about your career goals, alternative job training programs, and alternative schools. Not all people are strong academic learners. Some colleges or other settings have special training programs so people can acquire job skills without a strong emphasis on reading to learn. The Department of Human Services also works with people with disabilities to help find jobs and may even supply job coaches.