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How to Improve Paragraph Comprehension Skills for the Written Exam.

Mar 24th, 2024
how to improve paragraph comprehension skills

Why are paragraph comprehension skills important?

Paragraph comprehension is a critical skill for law enforcement professionals. Whilst it may not seem it at first, paragraph comprehension directly impacts your ability to understand written directives, communicate effectively, and make informed decisions on the job. It also tests the analytics skills of the applicant.

When preparing for the police entrance exam, honing paragraph comprehension abilities is essential. An entire section of the written exam is, after all, dedicated to testing this skill. There are effective ways and means of improving your paragraph comprehension skills. Whilst you cannot foster these skills overnight, there are long-term strategies you can adopt to help refine this skill and maximize your score on exam day.

Proactive Paragraph Comprehension Strategies

Below, we have put together some top strategies to help you improve paragraph comprehension skills for the written exam.

Active Reading Techniques

Active reading involves engaging with the text rather than passively scanning it.

Too many police test candidates superficially read the paragraph, not really understanding either the general purpose of the text nor its specifics. Active reading techniques refers to your ability to directly engage with the text in a meaningful, in-depth way.

To improve your active reading skills, consider the following points when reviewing paragraphs:

  • Highlighting or underlining key points and details.
  • Take notes or write summaries of each paragraph to reinforce understanding.
  • Ask questions about the main idea and supporting details.

In other words, avoid quickly and superficially scanning the paragraph. Invest the time to actively engage with the paragraph to fully understand its meaning and implications.

Vocabulary Development

A strong vocabulary is crucial when reviewing simple or complex texts.

To improve your long-term performance on the police written exam, you should:

  • Expand vocabulary by learning new words regularly. Relevant, widely used words and phrases.
  • Practice using context clues to infer the meanings of unfamiliar words (common prefixes and suffixes can help you with this).
  • Create flashcards or use vocabulary-building apps to reinforce retention.

Developing your vocabulary over time is essential for success on the written exam, but it takes time. Too many applicants think they can wing the exam and get away with it. But because the test only puts through the most qualified applicants, this is not a strategy worth pursuing.

Instead, build your vocabulary in a constructive manner. Keep notes, and revise them accordingly.

Focus on Main Ideas

Police tests often assess the applicant’s ability to identify the main idea of a passage.

To ensure that you thoroughly grasp the main idea, you should:

  • Pay attention to topic sentences and themes, as they often convey the main idea of a paragraph.
  • Summarize each paragraph in one or two sentences to grasp the overarching message.
  • Practice identifying the main idea by asking yourself, “What is the author trying to convey?”

In paragraph comprehension questions, the most specific answers are often the most erroneous.

After all, a “general idea” of a paragraph cannot at the same time be highly specific. Keep this principle in mind if you are asked questions about identifying the main theme.

Identify Supporting Details

Understanding the supporting details within a paragraph strengthens overall comprehension.

  • Look for specific examples, statistics, or explanations that support the main idea.
  • Practice summarizing the supporting details in their own words.
  • Pay attention to transitional words and phrases that indicate relationships between ideas (e.g., however, therefore, for example, except for).

Often when identifying supporting points, it’s vital that you do not focus on the words in the question, matching them to words in the paragraph. Instead, isolate the relevant paragraph – not words in a sentence – as the whole paragraph will give you the context needed, as well as identifying any transitional words or phrases that can completely alter the meaning of the supporting point.

Practice with Diverse Texts

Exposure to a wide variety of texts can help you become adept at comprehending different writing styles and topics.

For this reason, you could consider:

  • Reading newspapers, magazines, academic articles, and fiction / non-fiction books regularly.
  • Practice summarizing and analyzing texts from different genres – both law enforcement and non-law enforcement related.
  • Explore online resources that offer sample passages and questions similar to those found on police tests.

The broader range of resources you use, the better prepared you will become to improve paragraph comprehension skills for the written exam.

Time Management Skills

Time constraints are common in police exams, so candidates must learn to read efficiently without sacrificing overall comprehension analysis.

To help you manage time better in the exam, you should think about:

  • Setting aside dedicated study time to practice reading passages and answering questions under timed conditions.
  • Prioritizing main ideas and skimming for key information when time is limited.
  • Practicing pacing techniques to ensure adequate time for reading and answering questions.

Don’t rush through paragraph comprehension questions, either. Sometimes questions can be deceptive, in that they may seem easy at first but that you can easily miss supporting details. Rushing through easy police exam questions often means losing easy marks.

Take your time but manage it sensibly throughout the course of the police test.

Critical Thinking and Inference

Police work often requires officers to make inferences based on limited information.

Consider the following learning strategies:

  • Practice drawing logical conclusions from the information provided in a passage.
  • Pay attention to implicit meanings, tone, and author’s purpose.
  • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and anticipate potential outcomes based on the information presented.

In other words, try to think beyond superficial or surface-level meaning.

Try to take a step back and think critically about the material. That often means asking questions. The more you think through problems – actively and with intent – the better your critical thinking skills will develop over time. It doesn’t need to be perfect either. You will make mistakes along the way. That’s an essential part of the learning process.

Seek Feedback and Review Mistakes

Feedback is essential for improvement. The more feedback you receive, the more you can learn from mistakes and any lack of understanding of key concepts.

This is also true for any police test questions you practice. Always try to actively learn from answer explanations to ensure you don’t repeat the same mistake again.

  • Review practice tests and identify areas of weakness.
  • Seek guidance from instructors, mentors, or peers; if you are still struggling with a topic.
  • Analyze incorrect answers to understand where comprehension breakdowns occurred and how to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

As well as this, it’s essential that you prepare a long-term study plan to help you structure and organize your exam preparation.

Developing Your Skills Long-Term

In conclusion, mastering paragraph comprehension skills is essential for success on the police exam and in the field of law enforcement in general. The better communication skills you develop, the more effective police officer you will become. That’s why police departments throughout the country test this very subject on the written exam.

By employing active reading techniques, expanding vocabulary, focusing on main ideas and supporting details, practicing with diverse texts, managing time effectively, honing critical thinking abilities, and seeking feedback; you can significantly enhance your reading comprehension skills and excel in your chosen, future law enforcement career.

Consistent practice and dedication are key to achieving proficiency in reading comprehension. Mastering this skill means you will breeze through the police written exam with ease.

Luke

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