• PSSA Reading Terms 
    These are all the terms that students must become familiar with in order to be successful on the PSSA Reading exams. These terms are covered in class and should be reviewed often by students at home during homework and study time.
    Students will be quizzed on these terms throughout the year!
    ANOTHER USEFUL STUDY TOOL IS STUDYISLAND.COM Students should visit studyisland at home with parent permission and practice answering questions!


    1. Inference: what the author wants you to conclude from the clues in the story and from your own knowledge and experience. Not written in “black and white”.

    Example- Marie is coughing and sneezing. Her nose is red and she has a handful of tissues. INFERENCE: Marie has a cold.


    1. Context Clues: words surrounding an unfamiliar word that helps the reader figure out the meaning of the unknown word.

    Example- Sunlight can’t shine through opaque objects like wooden doors.

                      Opaque means thick.

    2.      Main Idea: what the story is mainly about on a whole, not specifically. Usually the main idea is stated at the beginning of the selection or passage.


    3.      Details: the specific words that are used by the author to describe and support the main idea.


    4.      Theme: the message the author wants the reader to get from the selection.

          Example- The theme may be a common saying such as: “The early bird gets the

                            Worm. Typical themes are also friendship, love, courage, honesty etc.


    5.      Topic: the subject


    7. Generalization: a statement that stresses the general idea rather than specific details.

    Example- All sixth graders study hard to do well on their tests.


    8.      Summarization: to capture all of the most important parts of the original text, but write them in a much shorter space.


    9.      Synonym: words similar in meaning.

    Example- chilly---cold


    10.  Antonym: words opposite in meaning.

    Example- young---old


    11.  Fact: something that can be proven

    Example- There are 50 stars on the American flag.


    12.  Opinion: a personal belief or feeling.

    Example- Vanilla is better than chocolate ice cream.


    13.  Stereotype: taking a quality of one individual and applying it to every individual in the group.

    Example- All tall people are good at basketball.

    14.  Bias: a judgment based on a personal point of view.

    Example- You might like German shepherds more than other kinds of dogs because your grandmother has a German shepherd named Doc that you love. In that case, you would have a bias in favor of German shepherds. Another person could have a bias against German shepherds. Maybe that person was bitten by a German shepherd or saw a German shepherd attack a smaller dog.


    15.  Exaggeration: states that something is better, worse, larger, more common, or more important than is actually true. (Sometimes called hyperbole)

    Example- The man is taller than a building!


    16.  Homograph: words that look alike but have different meanings. Sometimes they sound alike and sometimes they sound different.

    Example- I dove into the pool.                       Shift the gears on the bike.

                    The dove flew away.                       I work third shift tonight.


    17.  Homophone: words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things.

    Example- I read the book last night.               He blew out the candles.

                    I love the color red.                         The sky looks so blue today.


    18.  Affix: a word part that attaches to either the beginning or end of a word.


    19.  Prefix: a group of letters added to the beginning of a word and changes the word’s meaning.


    20.  Suffix: a group of letters added to the end of a word and changes the word’s meaning.


    21.  Root Word: part of a word that an affix is added to.


    22.  Figurative Language: words that create vivid pictures by comparing things in unexpected ways.


    23.  Simile: a comparison of two things using the words “like” or “as”.

          Example- My dog’s fur is as black as coal.               

     24. Metaphor: a comparison of two things WITHOUT using “like” or “as”.

    Example- Lemon tea is the best medicine for a cold.


    25.  Personification: giving nonhuman things human characteristics.

    Example- The leaves danced in the wind.

                     The wind whistled through the trees.


    26.  Alliteration: a group of words in which most begin with the same sound.

    ExampleBaby brother burst the balloons. OR The crying kids created chaos!


    27.  Plot:

    The essential events of a story are called the plot. Plot is also the order of the events. The plot has a series of causes and effects, a problem and solution, and a sequence of events.



    Five Elements of a Plot Line

    28. Exposition: usually starts the story. Expositions describe the situation before any action starts. The purpose of expositions is to give the reader important background information. This is where the characters, the setting, and the main conflict are usually described.


    29.  Conflict: is a struggle or problem that a character has to solve. 

    30.  Rising action: the rising action is a series of events that lead to the climax. These events help build up the excitement in the story. Building up the excitement makes the reader want to know what is going to happen next. The rising action usually shows the main character in a struggle of some sort. He or she experiences problems and hurdles. It also describes what the character does to try to solve his or her problem.

    31.  Climax: the climax happens at the very peak of the story. It is the most exciting moment in the story. At this point, the character usually deals with the main conflict for the last time. The climax is also the turning point in the story. After this peak, things either get better or worse for the character.

    32.  Falling action: the falling action happens right after the climax. Here, the action starts to calm down. The characters react to what happens in the climax. The effects of the climax are described. This leads the reader to the conclusion of the story.


    33.  Resolution: the resolution is the conclusion of the story. It ties together the     whole story and brings it to a close. It explains how the conflict is solved and what happens to the characters after the story ends.


    34Setting: where and when the story takes place.

           Example-on a hot, sunny day on a sandy beach


    35. Conclusion: an overall opinion the reader forms after reading the passage


    36. Characterization: the method the author uses to reveal characters and their different personalities.


    37. Literary Elements: important techniques used in literature such as characterization, setting, plot and theme.


    38. Author’s Purpose: the reason the author wrote the passage.

    Example- to inform, to describe, to persuade, to entertain


    39. Genre: a category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique or content


    Four Types of Writing

    Every passage you read can be classified as one of four types of writing: narrativepersuasivepoetic, or informational. Knowing the type of passage you are reading can help you understand the passage better or even enjoy it more!



    40. Narrative: The word narrative means "story. A narrative is a type of writing that tells a story. There are many different ways an author can tell a story. Dramas and fictional stories are all examples of narrative writing. 

    41. Informational: An informational piece explains something or gives information about a certain topic. Textbooks, magazines, and newspapers all contain informational materials. 

    42Persuasive: a type of writing that tries to change the reader’s mind about something or convince the reader to do or believe something.  An example of persuasive writing is the writing found in advertisements. Advertisements are designed to convince you to buy a certain product. Speeches by politicians are also examples of persuasive writing. Words that are often found in persuasive pieces include “should,” “must,” “ought,” or “necessary.” 

    43. Poetic: Some writing is poetic, which means that it has the characteristics of poetry. Poetry uses interesting language and vivid images. Poetic pieces are usually written in short, rhythmic lines or stanzas. Remember, though, poetry does not always have to rhyme!




    44Fiction: a text that is fantasy; not real; made up.


    45. Non-fiction: text that is based on facts; NOT made up; real; true.


    46Biography: a story written about a person’s life


    47. Autobiography: a story written about a person’s life by that person

    ExampleMy Basketball Career by Michael Jordan


    48Drama: a type of writing that is meant to be performed (like a play).

    ExampleOur Town


    49. Fairytale: short stories featuring mythical characters such as fairies, elves, and sprites.

    ExampleSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    50. Folktale: a story that began in oral tradition.

    Example- The Girl Who Married the Moon


    51. Fable: narrative intended to convey a moral. Animals or inanimate objects with human characteristics often serve as characters.

    ExampleThe Fox and the Grapes




    52. Tall Tale: a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events.



    Example- Paul Bunyan

    53. Point of view refers to the way a story is told, the perspective or angle of vision or position from which the events are narrated for the reader. Sometimes the author "tells" the story; sometimes one of the characters does so. Sometimes this narrator knows all about everything; sometimes the narrator is limited in her or his knowledge and perspective. These methods of storytelling and the examples of point of view are detailed below.

    Two Types of Point of View



    54.First Person -



    One of the characters is telling the story. First person point of view uses "I" or "We." First person is often used when someone is stating an opinion or sharing a feeling.
    Example: I like my freshly-painted bedroom so much that I want to jump for joy!




    55. Third Person -



    Someone from outside the story is telling it. Third person point of view uses "He," "She," or "They." Sometimes "it" is used when talking about a thing instead of a person.
    Example: Sally rode home as fast as she could. Then she jumped off her bike and ran into the house to see what was going on.




    56Text Organization: how the author arranges text

    Five Types of Text Organization



    57.Sequence -



    The writer places events in the order in which they happen. Look for words like "first," "then," "finally," "a few minutes later," "next," "after lunch," "last year."

    Example: First, Rhett was late getting to school. Then, he lost his homework. A few minutes later, the teacher asked him to clean out his desk. Now Rhett thinks it will be a bad day.



    58. Compare/Contrast -



    The text shows how ideas or things are alike or different. Look for words like "best," "more," "better," "less," "worse," "easier," "than."

    Example: The best time to visit the Rocky Mountains is early fall. The weather is cooler in the fall than in the summer. You will see fewer people and more animals. The fall colors are more beautiful.



    59. Cause and Effect -



    The text shows that one event causes another thing to happen. Look for words like "because," "then," "since," and "as a result."

    Example: It rained for the first few days of the camping trip. As a result, most of the campers were restless and wanted to go home.



    60. Question/Answer -



    The writer presents a question and then tries to answer it.

    Example: Many schools are thinking about this question: Should students be made  to wear uniforms? I believe they should not. First, clothing is a very important way that kids express themselves. . .



    61. Problem/Solution -



    The text is split into two parts: One part presents a problem, and the other part gives the solution to the problem. Look for words like "problem," "solution," "solve," and "plan."

    Example: The city of Taylor has fifteen public swimming pools. In the past, plenty of lifeguards have been available for staffing the pools throughout the summer. Most of the lifeguards were teenagers out of school for the summer. This year, however, not enough lifeguards have signed up to work. The city has started asking healthy, retired people to be lifeguards. They will be trained for free if they will agree to work 10 hours per week at a city pool and be paid $8 an hour for their work.

    Problem: Taylor doesn't have enough lifeguards to work city swimming pools. 
    Solution: Encourage retired people to become certified lifeguards and work at the pools.

    62. Stage Directions: the writer’s instructions to the actors and those setting up a play. They tell the actors what they should do before, during and after they speak, and also indicate music and lighting changes.


    63. Dialogue: a spoken conversation between characters in a drama


    64. Poetry: the arrangement of words in lines or stanzas.


    65. Imagery or sensory words: a word or group of words in a literary work which appeal to one or more of the senses-sight, touch, taste, sound and smell.


    66. Lines: rows of words in a poem


    67. Stanzas: a connected number of lines in a poem.


    68. Mood: emotions of a work or of the author


    69. Rhythm: a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables


    70. Meter: a pattern of rhythm in a poem; the beat


    71. Repetition: a repeating pattern of sounds, words, phrases or lines


    72. Rhyme: the repetition of the ending sound of a word

    73. Couplet: two successive rhyming lines that appear together as a pair. A couplet may be part of a longer poem.


    74. Haiku: short poem of Japanese origin 17 syllables in length. Three lines long

    of 5-7-5 syllables.


    75. Lyrical: a poem with musical qualities that express emotion


    76. Light Verse: a poem that is playful or whimsical

    Example: a nursery rhyme


    77. Free Verse: a poem that doesn’t rhyme or follow any metrical rule


    78. Limerick: a humorous poem of 5 lines in which lines 1,2 and 5 rhyme and lines 3 and 4 rhyme.