ReadingOne of the most common questions posed to me is how Breakthrough Test Prep differs from other test prep programs. The most important difference is that we actually teach students how to read more efficiently – improve reading speed and comprehension. Of course the bonus – that most parents especially like – is that they notice these invaluable skills carry over into their teen’s reading work in school!

I have been teaching efficient reading skills even longer than test prep. TRANSLATION: A VERY long time! Eventually, I merged the core techniques of efficient reading with all of my test prep programs. It makes sense that strong readers always score well, so teaching efficient reading to those students who may not be ‘readers’ is the foundation to significantly raise test scores. That said, there some BASIC efficient reading techniques that I can share with you so you can get a taste of how we teach these skills, particularly how to skim.

Skimming means reading to understand the point, not get all the details. This is how you need to initially approach an SAT or ACT reading passage. On these exams, there’s a time for skimming and a time for much slower reading. NOTE: In all of Breakthrough Test Prep programs, students will learn a particular system as to how to approach a reading passage. Skimming is merely the first step.

Our minds can be trained to read silently and understand ideas best in word groups. Since the subject of communication is ideas not words, it would mean that if you stop at each word when you read, you are chopping up the author’s ideas. So if you read in word groups, you not only have the potential to read about three times faster, but your basic understanding can actually improve.

The following is an exercise to provide you with a preview of how easy it is to read in word groups and have good understanding.

First, using a the back end of pen or pencil, tap back and forth on the large asterisks to get into the ‘rhythm’. You are training your eyes and brain to be a better team as the more consistently your eyes move down the page, the easier it is to concentrate and consequently to comprehend.

Then tap under each phrase at the asterisk, 2-3 taps per second. Don’t forget to use a stopwatch (app) to time yourself as you read. Upon finishing, you will find out your words per minute and take a short recall quiz. REMEMBER: The purpose of reading is to get ideas not to say words. 


I have a feeling you will be quite amazed at how well you will do! (Click here for PDF version of reading drill below)


*                                                                       *


BreakThrough Test Prep’s                             Effective Reading Training

*                                                                           *

Program is a six week                                     program geared especially

*                                                                           *

toward ninth and tenth                                graders. It is a recommended

*                                                                           *

precursor to the (P)SAT                               and/or ACT prep programs.

*                                                                           *

It is also an excellent course                         for rising college freshmen so

*                                                                           *

they are better able to                                    handle the more demanding

*                                                                           *

university level reading.                              The goal of the program is to

*                                                                            *

train students to develop                             a reading range from 300 wpm

*                                                                           *

to 1000 wpm. Ideally, once                         students have pushed themselves

*                                                                           *

to higher ‘practice’ speeds,                          their ‘habit’ reading rate will rise as

*                                                                           *

well.  Ultimately, they will                            become flexible readers in that

*                                                                           *

they will learn how to adapt                         their reading speed based on

*                                                                           *

purpose and content. Study                         skills and note-taking will also be

*                                                                           *

addressed. Additionally students                will learn how to approach reading

*                                                                           *

standardized test passages                            (when relevant), newspapers,

*                                                                          *

periodicals, reviews, novels,                               and textbooks.

*                                                                          *



10 seconds: 834 wpm

15 seconds: 556 wpm

20 seconds: 417 wpm


Recall questions*: Answer the following questions WITHOUT referring back. Go with your initial instinct:


  1. The Effective Reading Training Program is (a) 3 weeks, (b) 4 weeks (c) 5 weeks (d) 6 weeks
  2. It’s an excellent program for (a) freshmen (b) sophomores (c) rising college freshmen (d) all of the above
  3. One goal of the program is to develop a reading range between

(a) 150 – 450 wpm (b) 300- 700 wpm (c) 300- 1000 wpm (d) 200- 800 wpm

  1. Becoming a flexible reader is (a) being able to read everything faster (b) knowing how to adjust speed based on purpose and content (c) realizing that reading is a learned task (d) adjusting your speed when you feel intimidated
  2. Your practice speed differs from your ‘habit speed’ in that (a) you feel more comfortable at this speed (b) it can never vary (c) it’s always faster and more challenging (d) is lost quickly


ANSWERS: 1. d; 2. d; 3. c; 4. b; 5. c


So how did you do? I’d love to get your take!

*Questions on the SAT and ACT are NOT recall questions; students are expected to go back to find the answers.)


The above is an excerpt form Harriet’s Amazon bestseller, 6 Secrets to Master Successful SAT or ACT Test-taking: Develop the Skill Set and Mindset to Get the Score You Want and BEYOND!


Do you want your student to sharpen his efficient reading skills? If you have a teen who is a rising freshman or sophomore or presently in college, the summer is the perfect time to take the Efficient Reading Training Program. It can be taken one-on-one or semi-privately or in a small group. (Test preparation is NOT part of this training.)

If you have a rising senior or junior who wants to make sure that PSAT or SAT score reflects the highest potential, schedule your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session  NOW!  Find out why summer is the optimum time for rising juniors to begin preparation. For rising seniors, remember there is now an August SAT date!

Leave a Reply

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