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Supplemental Resource Guide

Reading Placement Test

You took the reading placement test at Elgin Community College (ECC) and did not place it into RDG090, the college's lowest-level developmental reading course. 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 hurrying 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.

If you’d like more support as you prepare for the test, contact our Reading instructor at or 847-214-7933 to arrange a meeting time.

Many students believe they're not good at taking tests. They might feel nervous, doubt themselves, or rush through the test to feel less stressed. If this sounds like you, we recommend retaking the reading placement test and following the advice below.

  1. Practice taking reading comprehension tests. Read a paragraph, then wait 10 minutes before trying to remember what it was about. Say it out loud or have someone test you.
  2. Take your time. Don't rush through the test. Make sure you understand what you're reading and what the questions are asking.
  3. Remember to breathe while taking the test! Oxygen helps your brain work better and makes you feel more relaxed.
  4. You can't bring notes into the testing room, but you can use scratch paper to jot down notes while you read. This can help you remember important information.
  5. Read the questions before reading the paragraph or article. This way, your brain knows what to look for when you read.

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 know 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, fill out the inquiry form. Even one semester of ESL classes can strengthen your comprehension skills, and you can retake the placement test.

If you were a poor or weak reader in elementary and high school and/or 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 must 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 aloud.
  4. 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.
  5. Next, ask the What if question: What if they hadn’t done 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.
  6. After a diligent six months of this practice, come in and retake the reading placement test. Remember, you would not improve overnight if you were not a strong, dedicated reader. You will need time and diligent practice.

Suppose none of the above ideas helped you do better when you retested. In that case, you should speak to the Workforce Development office 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 them find jobs and may even supply job coaches.

Workforce Development


Testing Center

Building B, Room B115
Fax: 847-608-5474

Exam Registration

Monday through Thursday: 8 am to 7 pm
Friday: 8 am to 3 pm
Saturday: 9am to 3pm

*Note: The Testing Center is closed Tuesdays from 2 to 3 pm for a department meeting. All tests and materials are collected 15 minutes before closing.