Reading and Writing

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 745–760 | Cite as

Does previewing answer choice options improve performance on reading tests?

  • Qian Guo
  • Young-Suk Grace Kim
  • Li Yang
  • Lihui Liu


Previewing answer-choice options before finishing reading the text is a widely employed test-taking behavior. In the present study we examined whether previewing is related to item response accuracy and response time, using data from Chinese learners of varying English proficiency levels and English native speakers. We examined eye movement patterns of participants who completed online multiple-choice sentence completion tasks, and how previewing was related to reading performance and whether the relation varied as a function of English proficiency level. The results showed that, relative to no previewing, previewing was associated with a significantly lower probability of answering an item correctly but not with significantly longer response time. Importantly, these relations varied across English proficiency levels such that participants with higher proficiency performed better without previewing, but there was no difference for lower-intermediate learners of English. These findings suggest that previewing does not facilitate performance on a sentence comprehension task, but instead interferes with the comprehension process, particularly for individuals with relatively high language proficiency.


Eye movement English proficiency Previewing Reading comprehension Reading performance Sentence completion Test-taking strategy 


  1. Bachman, L. F. (1982). The trait structure of cloze test scores. TESOL Quarterly, 16, 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bax, S. (2013). The cognitive processing of candidates during reading tests: Evidence from eye-tracking. Language Testing, 30, 441–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benjamini, Y., & Hochberg, Y. (1995). Controlling the false recovery rate; a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B, 57, 289–300.Google Scholar
  4. Bernhardt, E. B., & Kamil, M. L. (1995). Interpreting relationships between L1 and L2 reading: Consolidating the linguistic threshold and the linguistic interdependence hypotheses. Applied Linguistics, 16, 15–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cain, K. (2007). Syntactic awareness and reading ability: Is there any evidence for a special relationship? Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 679–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cain, K., Oakhill, J., & Bryant, P. (2004). Children’s reading comprehension ability: Concurrent prediction by working memory, verbal ability, and component skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 31–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen, A. D. (2006). The coming of age of research on test-taking strategies. Language Assessment Quarterly, 3, 307–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, A. D. (2011). Strategies in learning and using a second language (2nd ed.). Harlow: Longman Applied Linguistics/Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, A. D., & Upton, T. A. (2007). ‘I want to go back to the text’: Response strategies on the reading subset of the new TOEFL. Language Testing, 24, 209–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graesser, A. C., Singer, M., & Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101(3), 371–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. He, T. (2008). Reading for different goals: The interplay of EFL college students’ multiple goals, reading strategy use and reading comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading, 31, 224–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 127–160. doi: 10.1007/BF00401799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hosenfeld, C. (1977). A preliminary investigation of the reading strategies of successful and unsuccessful second language learners. System, 5, 110–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jenkins, J. R., Fuchs, L. S., van den Broek, P., Espin, C., & Deno, S. L. (2003). Sources of individual differences in reading comprehension and reading fluency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 719–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jeon, E. H., & Yamashita, J. (2014). L2 reading comprehension and its correlates: A meta-analysis. Language Learning, 64, 160–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jonz, J. (1990). Another turn in the conversation: What does cloze measure? TESOL Quarterly, 24, 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kendeou, P., van den Broek, P., White, M. J., & Lynch, J. S. (2009). Predicting reading comprehension in early elementary school: The independent contributions of oral language and decoding skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 765–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kieffer, M. J., Vukovic, R. K., & Berry, D. (2013). Roles of attention shifting and inhibitory control in fourth-grade reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 48, 333–348.Google Scholar
  19. Kim, Y.-S. (2015a). Language and cognitive predictors of text comprehension: Evidence from multivariate analysis. Child Development, 86, 128–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kim, Y.-S. G. (2015b). Developmental, component-based model of reading fluency: An investigation of word reading fluency, text reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 50, 459–481.Google Scholar
  21. Kim, Y.-S. G. (2016). Direct and mediated effects of language and cognitive skills on comprehension or oral narrative texts (listening comprehension) for children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 141, 101–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kim, Y.-S., Park, C., & Wagner, R. K. (2014). Is oral/text reading fluency a “bridge” to reading comprehension? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 27, 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim, Y.-S., & Wagner, R. K. (2015). Text (Oral) reading fluency as a construct in reading development: An investigation of its mediating role for children from Grades 1 to 4. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19, 224–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim, Y.-S., Wagner, R. K., & Lopez, D. (2012). Developmental relations between reading fluency and reading comprehension: A longitudinal study from grade 1 to grade 2. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113, 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kintsch, W. (1988). The use of knowledge in discourse processing: A construction-integration model. Psychological Review, 95, 163–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kintsch, W. (1994). Text comprehension, memory, and learning. American Psychologist, 49, 294–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kintsch, W., & Van Dijk, T. A. (1978). Toward a model of text comprehension and production. Psychological Review, 85, 363–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kuhn, M. R., & Stahl, S. A. (2003). Fluency: A review of developmental and remedial practices. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. LaBerge, D., & Samuels, S. J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic information processing in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 62, 293–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lai, M. L., Tsai, M. J., Yang, F. Y., Hsu, C. Y., Liu, T. C., Lee, S. W. L., & Tsai, C. C. (2013). A review of using eye-tracking technology in exploring learning from 2000 to 2012. Educational Research Review, 10, 90–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Liontas, J. (2002). Transactional idiom analysis: Theory and practice. Journal of Language and Linguistics, 1, 17–52.Google Scholar
  32. Markman, P. L. (1985). Rational deletion cloze and global comprehension in German. Language Learning, 35, 423–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKenna, M. C., & Layton, K. (1990). Concurrent validity of cloze as a measure of intersentential comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 372–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nation, K. (2005). Children’s reading comprehension difficulties. In M. J. Snowling and C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 248–265). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Perfetti, C. A. (1994). Psycholinguistics and reading ability. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 849–894). San Diego, CA: Academic.Google Scholar
  36. Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 227–247). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Perfetti, C. A., & Stafura, J. (2014). Word knowledge in a theory of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18, 22–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Posner, M. I., & Snyder, C. R. R. (1975). Attention and cognitive control. In R. L. Solo (Ed.), Information processing and cognition: The Loyola symposium (pp. 55–85). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  39. Proctor, C. P., Carlo, M., August, D., & Snow, C. (2005). Native Spanish-speaking children reading in English: Toward a model of comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 246–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Radach, R., Huestegge, L., & Reilly, R. (2008). The role of global top-down factors in local eye-movement control in reading. Psychological Research, 72, 675–688. doi: 10.1007/s00426-008-0173-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.Google Scholar
  42. Rayner, K. (2009). Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 1457–1506. doi: 10.1080/17470210902816461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sarig, G. (1987). High-level reading in the first and in the foreign language: Some comparative process data. In J. Devine, P. Carrell, & D. Eskey (Eds.), Research in reading in English as a second language (pp. 105–120). Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.Google Scholar
  44. Shanahan, T., Kamil, M. L., & Tobin, A. W. (1982). Cloze as a measure of intersentential comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 17, 229–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sherman, J. (1997). The effect of question preview in listening comprehension tests. Language Testing, 14, 185–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sparks, R., Patton, J., Ganschow, L., & Humbach, N. (2012). Do L1 reading achievement and L1 print exposure contribute to the prediction of L2 proficiency? Language Learning, 62, 473–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Storey, P. (1997). Examining the test-taking process: A cognitive perspective on the discourse cloze test. Language Testing, 14, 214–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tilstra, J., McMaster, K., van den Broek, P., & Rapp, D. (2009). Simple but complex: Components of the simple view of reading across grade levels. Journal of Research in Reading, 32, 383–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Uchikoshi, Y. (2013). Predictors of English reading comprehension: Cantonese-speaking English language learners in the US. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 913–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van den Broek, P., Rapp, D. N., & Kendeou, P. (2005). Integrating memory-based and constructionist processes in accounts of reading comprehension. Discourse Processes, 39, 299–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vellutino, F. R., Tunmer, W. E., Jaccard, J. J., & Chen, R. (2007). Components of reading ability: Multivariate evidence for a convergent skills model of reading development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 3–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Verhoeven, L., & van Leeuwe, J. (2012). The simple view of second language reading throughout the primary grades. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25, 1805–1818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vorstius, C., Radach, R., Mayer, M. B., & Lonigan, C. J. (2013). Monitoring local comprehension monitoring in sentence reading. School Psychology Review, 42(2), 191–206.Google Scholar
  54. Walter, C. (2004). Transfer to reading comprehension skills to L2 is linked to mental representations of text and to L2 working memory. Applied Linguistics, 25, 315–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yamashita, J. & Shiotstu, T. (2015). Comprehension and knowledge components that predict L2 reading: A latent-trait approach. Applied Linguistics. doi: 10.1093/applin/amu079.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qian Guo
    • 1
  • Young-Suk Grace Kim
    • 2
  • Li Yang
    • 1
  • Lihui Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Tsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Florida Center for Reading ResearchFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations