The Regents' Testing Program Reading Test is a multiple-choice test with 54 items and an administration time of one hour. The test consists of nine reading passages with five to eight questions about each passage. The passages are from magazines (e.g., Newsweek, National Geographic), newspapers, literary works, and other written material that, in the judgment of committees of faculty members, all students receiving college degrees should be able to comprehend. The passages on the test usually range from 175 to 325 words in length, treat topics drawn from a variety of subject areas (social science, mathematics and natural science, and humanities), and entail various modes of discourse (exposition, narration, and argumentation).

The questions on the test have been designed to assess the following four major aspects of reading:

Vocabulary: entails identifying the meanings of words as they are used in passages. The student may use context clues, structural analysis and/or a general understanding of the meaning of the passage to determine the meaning of a word.

Literal Comprehension: entails recognizing information and ideas presented explicitly in passages. Literal comprehension items require a student to recognize (1) details or facts, (2) a sequence of events, (3) a comparative relationship, (4) a cause and effect relationship, or (5) the referent for which a word or group of words has been substituted in a passage.

Inferential Comprehension: entails synthesizing and interpreting material that is presented in a passage. Inferential comprehension items involve the following skills: (1) identifying the main idea of a passage or paragraph, (2) inductive reasoning, (3) deductive reasoning, and (4) interpretation of figurative or other language.

Analysis: is concerned with how or why a passage is written rather than what a passage is about. In general, analysis items require inferences to be made about the style, purpose, or organization of a passage.

For each form of the Reading Test, 18 to 24 percent of the items are from each of the categories of Vocabulary, Literal Comprehension, and Analysis and 33 to 41 percent of the items are from the Inferential Comprehension category.

Scale Scores

The scores that are reported for the Reading Test are a translation of the total number-right score to standard "scale scores" that are common across all forms of the test. Scale scores rather than number-right scores are used so that students' scores are independent of the particular form of the test taken. It is not possible to develop alternate forms that are always exactly equivalent in difficulty; some forms are slightly easier or slightly more difficult than others. It is important that these differences in difficulty be taken into account in the reporting of scores. Scale scores make this possible. Because of the use of scale scores, a student is not penalized for taking a more difficult form or rewarded for taking an easier form.

The scale scores for the reading test have values that range from 1 to 99, with the minimum passing score set at 61. By setting the passing score for each form to a scale score of 61, the same level of skill is required to pass the test regardless of the relative difficulty of the particular form taken. For one form of the test, a scale score of 61 may represent 72% of the questions answered correctly; for a slightly more difficult form, a scale score of 61 may represent 70% of the questions answered correctly. The scale score of 61 has corresponded, on average, to approximately 72% of questions answered correctly.

On the 54-item Reading Test, students typically would need to answer correctly about 39 questions. On relatively hard forms of the test, 38 questions answered correctly might be required, and on relatively easy forms, 40 questions might be required.

Click here for a sample number-right to scale score conversion table.

Last updated: January 25, 2004