Reading Comprehension Skills Study Guide

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Reading Comprehension Skills Practice Exercises


This lesson reviews active reading strategies, finding the main idea, defining unfamiliar words, and distinguishing between fact and opinion. In the practice exercise, you'll get to use all these reading comprehension skills together.

If you want to become good at basketball, you can practice your dribbling, work on your jump shots, and run through your layups over and over until your arms and legs ache. But you won't become really good unless you can successfully combine all these skills on the court. Similarly, when you read, you need to use a number of different reading strategies at the same time. Putting together the strategies that you've learned so far will take your reading skills to the next level.

Lesson 1: Becoming an Active Reader. You learned that active reading is the key to reading success. Active readers use five specific strategies to understand what they read:

  • skimming ahead and jumping back
  • highlighting key words and ideas
  • looking up unfamiliar vocabulary words
  • recording questions and reactions
  • looking for clues

Lesson 2: Finding the Main Idea. You learned that the main idea is different from the subject. The main idea makes an assertion about the subject. This idea is general enough to hold together all the ideas in a passage. It is the thought that controls the whole passage, and this thought is often expressed in a topic sentence. The other sentences in the passage provide support for the main idea.

Lesson 3: Defining Vocabulary.You learned how to figure out what unfamiliar words mean from their context—the surrounding words and ideas. You also looked for clues in the unfamiliar words by examining word parts, including the prefix, suffix, or root.

Lesson 4: Distinguishing between Fact and Opinion. You learned that a fact is something known to be true while an opinion is something believed to be true. Main ideas are often opinions. Good writers use facts to support their opinions.

If any of these terms or strategies are unfamiliar, STOP. Take some time to review the term or strategy that is unclear.


  1. Review the Skill Building sections from each lesson in this section. Try any Skill Builders you didn't already do.
  2. Write a paragraph or two about what you've learned in this section. Begin your paragraph with a clear topic sentence and then write several supporting sentences. Try to use at least one new word you learned this week as you write.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Reading Comprehension Skills Practice Exercises

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