So what is the ‘secret sauce’ for test taking success that enables students to improve test scores (and even grades in school) without a formal test prep program? Students who get in the habit of leisure reading for 10-15 minutes a day can significantly raise test their SAT or ACT scores.
First, let’s get some history about the drop in test scores, better understand the positive effects of pleasure reading, and most importantly, learn about three 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 2-3%. Why the big drop? In 1972 their were no smartphones, i Pads, or PCs. No Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Obviously, the answer is very simple: Today students don’t ‘have the time’ to read for pleasure. (Math scores dropped as well, though not as much due to the influx of Asian-American students taking the exam.)
It’s a proven fact that students who read daily for pleasure 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)?
- 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 English, they have developed the facility to understand and express a sophisticated argument.
- Readers of course have much stronger reasoning and inferential skills.
- Readers also have a much better command of history and strong factual knowledge which provides the mandatory context to learn and remember.
- Students who are ‘readers’ are typically fast readers, at least 300 wpm – 500 wpm. That’s one reason why they enjoy reading. Many students don’t like to read because they tend to read very slowly, which in their minds equates to boredom.
Strong readers also have the foundation to better understand the math questions on both the SAT and ACT. Weaker readers also tend to be more challenged on the ACT science.
RECOMMENDATION: Have your teen take an Efficient Reading Training Course or an SAT or ACT prep program which includes improving reading efficiency. (Our Efficient Reading Training – small group or one-on-one – is recommended as a summer program for rising freshmen and sophomores.)
As part of our SAT and ACT preparation, once students have been trained to read in word groups using daily reading drills over a 3-4 week period, they then move on to daily sustained reading. The goal is to learn to apply their ‘new normal’ reading speed – typically between 300-500 wpm – to everyday reading by selecting a book from our Recommended Reading List. They also write a short synopsis after each reading session to confirm comprehension.
So now that you are motivated to help your teen improve his test scores as well as grades in school, here are two approaches to make it happen:
- Your student should be reading a book every 2-3 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.
If your teen doesn’t own a Kindle, the Kindle app can be uploaded on any computer or cell phone. Free book samples of any book– typically the first 10% of the book – can be ordered to see it piques your teen’s interest.
Here are a few suggestions from our Recommended Reading List:
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
Magazines and newspapers: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Forbes, Inc., The Atlantic, Time.
- 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 on subjects that interest your teen. These are obviously shorter than a book and therefore not as intimidating.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to capitalize on how to use the above most effectively: The 7 Steps to Using Editorials and Reviews to Improve Reading Speed, Comprehension, and Vocabulary.
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!