How Do I Choose the Best Critical Reading Exercise?

Choosing the best types of critical reading exercises can make a huge difference in learning or teaching critical reading. While there is no hard and fast rule for which exercises are the best, taking into account the exercise’s reading level and subject matter is a good place to start. Some experts recommend looking for a critical reading exercise that requires the student to write an analytical response to the material in order to demonstrate comprehension. When studying for a standardized test that requires critical reading skills, finding practice tests tailored to the exam type may be beneficial.

When selecting a critical reading exercise, it’s a good idea to think about the student’s prior knowledge. While critical reading can be taught as early as kindergarten, a six-year-reading old’s level and subject matter are likely to differ significantly from that of a teenager. Look for exercises that are simple and help outline only one principle of critical reading at a time for young students; for example, students could read a short paragraph about bunnies and then summarize what they learned in one sentence. Look for more difficult exercises for students with a higher reading level that require not only reading comprehension but also an analysis of the author’s tone and the material’s intent.

Look for a critical reading exercise that relies on a demonstration of skills to aid in material absorption. Students may not do the work at all if they are simply told to read and think about a passage, and there is no way to assess their level of understanding. A critical reading exercise that requires the student to answer multiple choice questions may be slightly better, but random guessing can still lead to correct answers. Students are frequently required to respond in their own voices, through written responses, in superior critical reading exercises. These responses can then be examined the teacher, who can then suggest improvements to help hone and improve critical reading skills.

Because reading skills are frequently tested as part of standardized tests, finding a critical reading exercise tailored to a specific test may be beneficial. The standardized testing company may provide practice tests in the form of booklets or online testing tools. A practice test has the advantage of allowing students to get a feel for the types of questions that will be asked on the actual test as well as how responses will be graded. While this method can help students improve their test scores, it may not be the best way to teach overall critical reading comprehension because it focuses on teaching students how to perform well within the test’s parameters rather than the subject as a whole.