Reading Comprehension Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's Firefighter Exams
The reading comprehension section of a civil service exam is designed to test the cognitive ability of the candidate. Several reading passages, under various subject headings that may or may not deal with firefighting and fire-matics, are used to determine how well you read, reason, remember, think, and process the information given in the reading passages. For the most part, the reading passages are on fire-related topics without getting too technical and may include firefighting procedures, tools and equipment, management theory, firefighting lore stories, life in the firehouse, and technical skills. However, you do not need any prior experience in the fire service to understand the text passages and answer the questions correctly. Other topics, such as public relations, world issues, current events, and what may be considered obscure text are also sometimes included to ensure that it is your reading comprehension that is being tested, not your knowledge of a particular subject. The content is typically taken from academic journals and manuals and contains a great deal of information in a formal compact style. The test is at the level commensurate with the educational requirements listed on the notice of examination.
At the end of each reading passage, there are questions designed to test your thinking ability and how well you can concentrate under pressure. In general, unless the reading material is very short in length (one or two paragraphs), it is not wise to read the questions prior to reading the passage. When there are many questions pertaining to a reading, you will find it difficult and distracting to try to remember all the information being asked about in the questions. Save your time to read more of the passage deliberately and to review once you have completed reading the passage.
Skilled readers are "active" readers. They don't just read; rather, they interact with the reading material; this leads to greater comprehension. Good readers use their prior knowledge and experience to process the words and sentences, determine their meaning, understand the passage, and possibly foresee what will be stated next. Tools, such as highlighting, underlining, and making marginal notes help in doing this.
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