How To Teach Your Children To Pass A Reading Test: The Characters

What’s In A Reading Test?

A reading test  almost always requires that the reader answer questions about the characters in a fictional story.  A good fiction story gives its characters animated and sometimes exaggerated personalities. In a reading test a reader should be able to recognize and analyze those personalities and answer questions about those characters. Additionally,  a good reader should  be able to identify character traits discussed at the end of this article.

Reading Questions

Reading questions will often refer to a character’s actions  asking the reader to interpret those actions.  To do this a reader will have to rely on inferencing.  inferencing is the ability to  guess or predict what a character will do, or how they feel. The questions asked are, why did this character behave in a certain way ?  Therefore, the reader  must guess or predict what a character is thinking by either actions, inactions, what is said or what is not said. Body language and reactions are important too.

DIY

You can teach this to your child at home. Family members make the best characters. For example, examine a siblings actions. Have an open discussion with your child about why Judy (sibling) came home from school crying.  Judy does not say why she’s crying, but your child should be able to  guess or predict how Judy is feeling. Perhaps, Judy did not have a good day at school or on the way home.

Consider this as a reading test question,  it might look like this – Was  Judy happy or sad when she came home from school in chapter 3?  The right answer would be ,  she is sad.  A good reading test question will always ask the reader to think outside the box by asking , how do you know?  A good answer would be,  because Judy was crying when she came home. When I cry I am sad.  This is an excellent answer and would most likely be the best answer because the reader was able to infer that Judy was sad by referring to her actions – crying.

At Home

Whenever you are at home have your child guess or predict the reasons behind the many actions of  different family members. Always discuss the reasons why, and don’t forget to  ask the question,  how do you know?  Make a game out of it and apply this activity to television shows or movie characters.

How do you know,  is a question asked often on a reading test. Failure to answer this question will result in partial credit .  Too many partial answers  lead to low reading test scores.

As always, the earlier these discussions occur the better. A child in first or second grade is not too young to learn this activity.

Character Traits

Reading test questions also ask the reader to  identify personality traits in a character.  Below is a very short list of character traits and you can find lots more on the internet.  Talk about these character traits with your child and explain what they mean if your child does not know. Use character traits to describe family members.  A reading test question about character traits might read – name 2 character traits to describe Judy. Again, a reader must be able to answer the question, how do you know?

  • Honest
  • Brave
  • Compassionate
  • Leader
  • Courageous
  • Unselfish
  • Loyal
  • Hard-working
  • Independent
  • Selfish
  • Responsible
  • Considerate
  • Self-confident
  • Humble

Reading tests have several components.  Part 3 will address “the problem” in a story.  Don’t’ forget to share, share, share, let’s help our kids PASS their reading test.

L. Hughes-Page, M.Ed.


L. Hughes Page is a Field Supervisor to student teachers in the Graduate Department of Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.