How to Assess Reading Comprehension

Seven Reading Comprehension Assessments That Take

Five Minutes or Less

Do you have students that struggle with reading comprehension? Assessing for basic comprehension before moving to activities that require higher levels of analysis will let you know which students have a strong foundation of understanding and which students require reteaching. The formative assessment activities listed below can be completed in five minutes or less. Each activity should provide you with enough information to scaffold learning as needed. 


The ability to make authentic connections with the text is a strong indicator of comprehension. Students often struggle with comprehension because they have a hard time connecting the text to a concrete idea or experience. Use the sentence frames below to quickly assess understanding. Students can make a text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world connection. Click here to read more about text connections.

  • _______________ reminds me of _________________ because ________________.
  • _______________ is similar to ________________ because _______________. 
  • ______________ makes me think of _______________ because _______________.


Use the GIST (Generating Interactions between Schemata and Text) summarizing strategy to assess comprehension in minutes. The goal of a GIST summary is for students to be able to convey the “GIST” of what they read without extraneous details. To assess comprehension, have students answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions based on the text selection. Next, students condense their answers into a one-sentence summary. Click here to download a free GIST summary graphic organizer.

GIST Summary Graphic Organizer


Strong readers are able to visualize what they read. Creating mental imagery while reading helps students understand, remember, and take away meaning from the text. Assess comprehension with a quick visualization exercise. First, have students draw a picture that appeared in their mind while reading. Next, have students describe their drawing using one to three sentences. You can do this exercise on blank paper, or download this free visualizing worksheet


Graphic organizers are another quick way to assess comprehension. You can use graphic organizers to focus on one aspect of the text. For example, you can have students complete a graphic organizer to assess understanding of the main idea, compare/contrast, problem/solution, fact/opinion, inference, point of view, etc. Click the link below to download 20 editable, printable, and digital graphic organizers that you can use to assess comprehension of fiction and nonfiction text. 

20 Editable, Printable, & Digital Reading Comprehension Graphic Organizers

Reading Comprehension Graphic Organizers

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Have students demonstrate understanding by retelling or describing the text in their own words. Use the beginning, middle, and end framework to help students remain concise and on the right track. This can also be done orally if you are able to work one-on-one with students.  


Assess reading comprehension using a sequence of events timeline or plot diagram. Both will let you know if students have a solid grasp of the text. If you want students to demonstrate understanding with a timeline of events, set the number of events ahead of time. Five to seven events should be enough to assess understanding. Limiting the number of events will provide students with structure and cut down on the assessment time. Click here to download a free printable and digital timeline template. 

free timeline template for teachers


Predicting requires the reader to use information from the text to anticipate what will happen next. To make a relevant prediction, students must have a strong understanding of the text. You can use prediction writing prompts with quickwrites, bellringers, exit tickets, or journal entries. These types of assignments work well without taking a lot of time. Click the button below to download the FREE Making Predictions worksheet.  

Click here to download the FREE printable and digital Making Predictions worksheet! 

Free Making Predications Activity Template Worksheet

If you find that your students are struggling with comprehension, click here to see nine reading comprehension strategies you can use with all levels of learners. 

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reading comprehension graphic organizers shop now

7 Reading Comprehension Assessment Activities and Strategies for Teachers