TEAS Reading Strategies

TEAS Reading: How to Read Strategically

Of the 47 scored questions on TEAS Reading, 22 (47%) will ask you to identify key ideas and details from the passage. With these questions, the TEAS tests your ability to read for the “big picture” and for important details, as well as to draw inferences from your reading and apply what you learn from the text.

Key ideas and details questions make up nearly half of all Reading content questions you’ll see on the TEAS. Here’s what TEAS Reading looks like broken down by question type:

  • Key ideas and details questions: 47%
  • Craft and structure questions: 30%
  • Integration of knowledge and ideas questions: 23%

By mastering strategic reading skills, you can learn how to quickly identify the author’s main idea and supporting details. We’ll discuss how to identify key ideas and details questions, and show you how you can read strategically to score points.

[ RELATED: What’s Tested on the TEAS?

TEAS Reading: Main Idea

Many TEAS questions ask you to identify the main idea, which is the subject the author is writing about or the point he or she is making in the stimulus. You can identify the main idea by asking yourself, “What does the author want me to know?” You should also ask, “Why does the author want me to know it?” Sometimes the writer will be simply describing or explaining a topic, and other times the author will be trying to persuade you of a particular point of view.

The correct answer to a question about the main idea, topic, or author’s primary purpose is broad enough to reflect the entire stimulus, but not so broad that it goes beyond the author’s point. For these question types, eliminate answer choices that are supporting details; these answers are too narrow.

TEAS Reading: Supporting Details

Other questions ask about details the author includes to support the main idea. Details are explicitly stated in the stimulus, and important details in passages—the kind of details you are likely to see a question about—are usually indicated by keywords indicating contrast, emphasis, or a sequence.   

When reading a passage, keep an eye out for the following keywords, which likely indicate an important detail:

  • Contrast keywords, such as “however” and “on the other hand,” which signal a different idea or example
  • Emphasis keywords, such as “especially” & “surprisingly,” which signal a fact or idea the author thinks is important
  • Sequence keywords—like “first,” “second,” or “third”—indicate a sequence of events or steps

The Kaplan Method for TEAS Reading

Reading on the TEAS requires a strategic approach. Following the Kaplan Method for Reading helps you get the correct answer efficiently, without wasting time.
  • Step 1: Read the Stimulus Strategically

    Reading strategically means paying special attention to the topic and scope of the stimulus. The topic is the subject the author is writing about, and the scope is the specific aspect of that topic in which the author is interested. In a passage, the topic and scope are often found in the first few sentences. In a figure or graph, they are often found in the title, headings, and labels. Also, seek to understand the author’s purpose in writing. Often, this is to explain a process, describe a topic, or outline information, but sometimes the author is presenting a particular point of view or seeking to persuade the reader.

    When the stimulus is a passage of more than a few sentences or a figure or table of any complexity, you should also take notes as you read. Your notes should sum up the important ideas of the stimulus. Write notes in your own words and use abbreviations and symbols. Your notes become a map of the stimulus, both summarizing important information and helping you find details to answer questions. Investing time in understanding the stimulus helps you answer the questions more efficiently.

    Note: Some questions do not refer to a stimulus. When this is the case, proceed directly to step 2. Also, if there is only one question on a stimulus, read the question first (step 2) and then read the stimulus strategically as you research the answer to that question (combining steps 1 and 3).

  • Step 2: Analyze the Question

    Determine exactly what the question asks you to find. Is it asking for the author’s main point or primary purpose in writing? Or is it asking for a detail from the stimulus? Or is it asking you to make an inference based on the stimulus? Or is it asking why the author included some detail or feature? How you research your map and the stimulus and what you will look for in a correct answer depend on the task in the question.

  • Step 3: Research

    Research the answer in the stimulus. If you mapped it in step 1, your map will help you find the right place quickly; read your notes and, as needed, the appropriate portion of the stimulus.

    If you are reading the stimulus for the first time, because there is only one question on the stimulus, then make sure to read it strategically. Many TEAS questions require you to grasp the big picture of a stimulus, interpret a detail in context, or connect the dots between different details.

  • Step 4: Predict the Answer

    Before looking at the answer choices, predict the correct answer. Having the answer clearly in mind before looking at the choices will help you choose the correct answer and not be misled by choices that “sound right” but aren’t actually correct.

    Some questions are open-ended and don’t allow for a precise prediction. Examples are “Based on the passage, what conclusion can you reasonably draw?” or “Which of the following questions are answered by the passage?” Even in these cases, you can review your map and prepare a mental checklist of the important ideas and information in the stimulus. The correct answer will align with one of those.

  • Step 5: Evaluate the Answer Choices

    Evaluate the answer choices looking for a match for your prediction and eliminating choices that do not match. If the answer you expected is not there, revisit Steps 2–4 to refine your thinking.

Reading Strategically on the TEAS: Example

Now that you are clear on how to identify the author’s main idea and how to keep an eye out for supporting details, follow along as a TEAS expert answers a main idea question and a supporting detail question following the Kaplan Method for Reading.

“Like most superheroes, the Incredible Hulk possesses supernatural abilities. Among other talents, he has unlimited strength and the ability to leap several miles. Though theoretically capable of great evil, he is on the side of good, an especially important position given the time in which he first appeared in Marvel comics. First created at the height of post–World War II paranoia about nuclear war, the Incredible Hulk stories offer a fascinating look at the dual nature of human beings. On the one hand, he is a mild-mannered, bespectacled scientist. On the other, he is a raging, rampaging beast. More than a statement about the dangers of the Atomic Age, the Hulk is a reflection of the two sides in each of us—the calm, logical human and the raging animal.”

teas reading

Here is a test expert’s approach to a supporting detail question.

teas reading

Check out our section-by-section TEAS breakdowns: