Tests may ask students to interpret information in a particular passage. No matter what the question, the key is to know what the passage actually says.

How To Do It

Here are some tips for handling questions with reading passages.


  • Concentrate. Put aside your worries and distractions. Get ready to get down to business!
  • Don't rely too much on prior knowledge. Although you may know about the subject, the information that is presented will be the source from which your answer should come.


  • Read the question first. Why read the question before the passage? Because it saves time to know what you are reading for!
  • Make sure you understand the question. What kind of information will you need to gather when you read? Will you be looking for facts? Or will you be using the passage to come up with your own answer?
  • Read the passage. Read the passage as quickly as you can. Look for the answer as you read. When you find it, take notice of it, but -- and this is important -- don't stop reading yet! Read to the end. That way you can be sure that your answer is the best, most complete answer possible. If you are reading the passage in order to provide a written response, read more carefully. Make sure you understand everything.
  • Providing the answer. Feel free to look back at the passage to double-check your answer.

If You Didn't Find the Answer

  • Try again. Reread the question and the passage. Be sure you know what you are being asked to think about, before you reread.
  • Skip the question. If you still can't find or figure out the answer, skip the question. You can come back to it after you've finished the rest of the test.

Now You Try

The steps below explain how to find the answer to the question that accompanies the passage.

Step 1: Read the question and the possible answers. You are looking for the reason why the Iroquois formed the Iroquois League.

Step 2: Read the passage. Since you're looking for specific information, read quickly. Information in the first and second paragraphs suggests that the Iroquois wanted peace and the common good.

Step 3: “Peace and the common good” sounds like the right answer. Still, read quickly through the last paragraph to be sure there's no other information on why the League formed.

Step 4: If you didn't get the answer, reread the question. Then reread the passage. Now do you know the answer?

Directions: Read the passage below and answer the question.

During the late 1500s, five related Iroquois Nations formed what is known as “The Iroquois League.” The Five Nations were the Cayuga, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, and the Seneca. They lived in the woods and hills of New York. The Iroquois called this union “The Great Peace.” They did not want wars among themselves. They wanted peace.

The Iroquois joined together for their common good. They created a council made up of leaders from each of the five Nations. Iroquois women picked the leaders, and they picked them for life. They chose leaders for their patience, good will, generosity, and ability to act in the best interests of all.

Because of their unity and peace-seeking, the Iroquois prospered for a long time. Their representative form of government later inspired the American colonists.

According to the passage above, which statement best explains why the Iroquois League was formed among the five Iroquois Nations?

  1. The Iroquois hoped to inspire American colonists.
  2. The Iroquois joined together to keep peace and promote their common good.
  3. The Iroquois wanted a council of leaders who were patient, generous, and able to act in the best interests of all.
  4. The Iroquois wanted to take over the woods and hills of New York.