Often, standardized tests make use of paragraph comprehension in ascertaining a test-taker's skills. Questions might be posed about a detail within the paragraph, about context and word meaning, inference, or a summary of the paragraph. Whether reading for the purpose of a test or otherwise, there are certain steps you can take to increase your level of comprehension.

Look for the Main Point

Read the paragraph over quickly, but do so with the main point in mind. Ask yourself what is the main point of the paragraph. To determine whether you’ve made an accurate assessment of the main point, look for material supporting the main point. For example; if the main point of a paragraph is that the Boston Celtics are poised to win the next NBA Championship, then supporting material might include the statistics of key players, the position of the Eastern Conference and the position of the league overall. Often, the main point is the first sentence of the paragraph.

Understand the Type of Paragraph

Understanding the type of paragraph aids in comprehension and test-taking. Common paragraph types are narrating, describing, explaining a process, explaining with examples, comparing or contrasting, classifying, and defining. Gather an understanding of each type, and learn to recognize it. Such an understanding is especially important with questions that ask the author’s purpose in the paragraph. They also aid in overall understanding.

Understand the Type of Paragraph

Understanding the type of paragraph aids in comprehension and test-taking. Common paragraph types are narrating, describing, explaining a process, explaining with examples, comparing or contrasting, classifying, and defining. Gather an understanding of each type, and learn to recognize it. Such an understanding is especially important with questions that ask the author’s purpose in the paragraph. They also aid in overall understanding.

Keep Questions in Mind

If answering questions for a test, review your questions beforehand. A question might ask for a summary of the paragraph read. The key to the answer is in your main point. Other common questions ask about a specific detail, the answer of which may be found in your main point. Context and meaning questions ask about the specific use of a word within a sentence. Here, you must rely on your knowledge of synonyms. Inference questions are the ultimate test of comprehension, as they ask you to draw a conclusion based on your readings. To succeed, you must stay within the bounds of the passage and avoid speculation in your answers.