In my experience, the biggest stumbling block for most students is feeling more confident on the reading comprehension passages. This can be for a variety of reasons from the student who just ‘hates’ to read to the student who can’t focus on ‘boring’ passages.
Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that for a student to get a strong score on the SAT or ACT reading, that student goes into the test KNOWING they have the skill sets and the confidence to get through the passages accurately and expeditiously.
Here are the 5 steps to boost those reading scores. If your teen has at least a month before the SAT or ACT, the following techniques will have a significant impact on improving those scores.
- Learn how to skim. Skimming means reading to understand the point, not getting all the details. There’s a time for skimming and a time for word-by-word reading based on content and purpose.
Our mind can be trained to read silently and understand ideas best in word groups. The subject of communication is ideas not words, it would mean that if you stop at each word when you are reading, you are chopping up the author’s ideas. So if you read in word groups, you are not only reading about three times faster, but your basic understanding can actually improve.
Click here for the exercise that will show your teen how easy it is to read in word groups as well as have good understanding.
- Practice skimming with editorials or reviews – concert, CD, book, etc. Why this type of writing? The length as well as reading and language level is similar to most of the reading passages on the exams.
RECOMMENDED: Preferably use periodicals such as Time, The Economist or The Atlantic. Newspapers: NYT or The Washington Post. Being exposed to reading from a wide range of genres is ideal. Most students struggle as their reading experiences are so limited. Both tests use readings from the humanities and natural and social sciences as well as prose fiction excerpts and/or commentaries.
- Improve reading speed, comprehension, and vocabulary. Use the step-by-step technique laid out in this handout to practice reading in the different genres, building not only speed but comprehension and vocabulary as well. (A student can take a ‘diagnostic’ by timing the reading of a periodical article. The handout tells how to compute words per minute.)
- Read one editorial or review at least 4-5 days a week as per the handout. By the third week, most students will feel like their reading speed has doubled or even tripled and the ability to find the point or create a title or thesis is much easier.
NOTE: Being able to create a title or thesis is the foundation for enabling students to move through a passage with more rapidity and accuracy.
- Practice with SAT or ACT test passages. By the end of week 2, your teen should be able to incorporate practice with SAT/ACT passages as well a great source of practice is cracksat.net and crackact.com.
TIMING: SAT: 13 minutes per passage; ACT: 8.5 minutes per passage.
I’d love to get your feedback if your teen decides to use the above techniques to gain more reading confidence. These techniques represent the core of the reading efficiency program intrinsic to all of our test preparation. The balance of the test prep is teaching our particular ACT/SAT passage strategies as well as how to apply them to actual tests.
Most students may require additional drill work and individualized practice over a more extended period of time. That said, feel free to contact me to set up your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session and find out how to move forward with your teen.