Using Verbal Reports to Explore Reading Test-Taking Strategies of Saudi EFL University Students.

Author: Wafa Ahmed Alsafi

Keywords: reading test-taking strategies, retrospective interviews, Saudi EFL students, thinkaloud protocols, verbal report


Within the context of English as a foreign language (EFL), reading test-taking strategies (RTTS) play a central role in test-takers’ performance. Identifying these strategies and understanding their appropriate use is crucial for improving the test-taker’s accomplishment. In the present study, I qualitatively explored the reading test-taking strategies (RTTS) of EFL students completing a multiple-choice reading comprehension test. The participants were 26 female, level-three, foundation-year students at a big Saudi University. The study used think-aloud techniques, retrospective interviews, observations, and test protocols to deduce the participants’ RTTS. I analysed the data inductively using some elements of grounded theory. The result of the study was a list of 127 RTTS classified under seven main categories and 21 subcategories. The number of strategies in this study was larger than the number of strategies found in other studies in the literature. The classification of the strategies also differed: it followed a narrative order that mirrored the test-takers’ experience while completing the test. Hopefully the result of the present study can deepen our understanding of EFL students’ RTTS.