How can your student improve his/her test scores (and even grades in school) without a formal test prep program?  Getting students in the habit of doing this for 10-15 minutes a  day can raise test scores SIGNIFICANTLY for ALL students! GUARANTEED!

First let’s get some history about the drop in test scores, understand the positive effects of pleasure reading, and most importantly, learn about two approaches to get YOUR teen to read.

Did you know that in 1972, 11.4% of students had verbal scores over 600?  Presently it’s about 2-3%. Why the big drop? The answer is very simple: Students don’t read for pleasure. Math scores dropped as well, though not as much due to the influx of Asian-American students taking the exam.

FACT: Students who read for fun nearly every day performed better on reading tests than those who reported never reading or hardly at all.

Why does reading have such a major impact on test scores (as well as ALL work in school, by the way)?

FACT: Reading for pleasure has been linked to greater intellectual progress, both in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics. It helps to develop a strong familiarity with language and ideas.

Since readers have a better command of the English, they have developed the facility to understand and in turn, express a sophisticated argument. They of course have much stronger reasoning skills and inferential skills.

They also have a much better command of history and strong factual knowledge which provides the mandatory context to learn and remember.

FACT: Students who read a lot are typically fast readers, at least 300 wpm – 700 wpm. That’s one reason why they enjoy reading. Many students don’t like to read because they tend to read very slowly, which equates to boredom.

RECOMMENDATION: Take an Efficient Reading Training Course or a prep program which improves reading efficiency. (Contact Breakthrough Test Prep to find out more about both programs)

So now that you are motivated to help your teen improve his test scores as well as grades in school, here are two options to make it happen:

  • Your student should be reading a book every 1-2 weeks, a minimum of 10-15 minutes a day. Make sure you begin with a book that your teen WANTS to read. Have him go to the internet to read reviews and synopses to help in the selection process.

It should be selected by him or her, not you! Here are some suggestions:

 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

 Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking

 Marjorie Morningstar, War and Remembrance, Herman Wouk

The Source, Chesapeake, James Mitchner

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron

Beach Music, Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy

Into the Wild, John Krakauer

Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Catch 22, Joseph Heller

The Princess Bride, William Goldman

Any books by Mark Twain or Charles Dickens.

Feel free to call the office to receive a more complete listing.

  • If you think there is no way your non-reader will ever read a book, start with movie or concert reviews or better still, editorials they are interested in. These are obviously shorter than a book and therefore not as intimidating.

Here’s a method I have used with my students for many years.


  1. Scan the article backwards* for at least three (3) new vocabulary words; underline them.  (If there are not three, select another article.)
  2. Cut the article out and tape it into a notebook. Do your work below or on the next page.
  3. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph, put them into question form, and write them down.
  4. Time yourself as you read rapidly for the main idea. Use a pen creating a ‘Z-motion’ to pace your reading.
  1. Write down the main idea in a complete sentence. (If you are having difficulty writing the main idea in a concise statement, find and write down the answers to your preview questions first.)
  2. Figure out the meanings of the vocabulary words from the context clues; validate with a dictionary.
  3. In a separate section of your notebook, keep a running list of all of the words and their definitions.

*Scanning backwards prevents you from reading the article and recognizing a potential vocabulary word from context clues. Remember, if you are not comfortable with the word, in that you cannot use it in speech or writing, you need to learn it!!!

BONUS: HOW TO COMPUTE YOUR SPEED (words per minute, wpm)

  1. Count the average number of words on any three or four (complete) lines.
  2. Count the number of lines and multiply by the average number of words.
  3. Divide your time into the number of words in the text.


line a: 9 words; line b: 10 words; line c: 11 words

AVERAGE: 9 WORDS X 60 LINES = 540 WORDS.  If the passage were read in 1 minute and 30 seconds, you would divide 540 by 1.5 (30 seconds is .5 of a minute).  This equals 360 wpm.


Have you scheduled your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session yet? Find out YOUR teen’s better exam and create a game plan for test preparation – optimum number of tutorial hours, recommended test dates, even prepayment tutorial discounts.

I look forward to meeting you!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *