If you have attempted any SAT practice tests so far, or are currently enrolled in a SAT prep course, you have probably realized that there is no simple way to predict the topic, genre, or specific questions you will find in the reading comprehension sections. Here are some pro-active ways you can prepare yourself to tackle these sections with confidence and low-stress:
- Read: Make reading a part of your daily routine. People become better readers, the more they read! Read a variety of genres and media, like newspaper articles, fictional novels, academic journals, and historical textbooks. Get familiar with the distinctive features of each style, so you can quickly identify them within the very first paragraph or sentence.
- Pace: Glance over all the reading passages you need to cover and estimate how much time you should spend on each one. Then stay as close to that schedule as possible; don't let anything bog you down--keep moving forward! You might even subtract five minutes from your total time up front, to give yourself a little "wiggle room" to go back and check or complete answers at the end.
- Skim: Train your eyes to find keywords quickly. These could be words in a title, proper names, dates or other numbers, or words that are frequently repeated. To practice this skill, open a book to an unknown page, and give yourself ten seconds to highlight critical words. After ten seconds, look at the words you highlighted and write a brief summary of what you believe the page is about. Then go back and read the whole page to see if your summary was accurate.
- Search: Read the questions after your initial skim. Then go back and make an intentional search for the question details in the passage. Read the whole sentence around the detail to make sure your answer is accurate. ("Hidden" negative statements can make answers deceptive!)
- Guess: If you don't know what a word means, use context clues to help you make an educated guess. Consider what type of word it is (noun, verb, adjective), and if there is a base word within it that indicates its root. Read the sentence and "hum" in place of the unknown word, and then determine what word you would have put there, for the sentence to make sense. Most likely, that will be close to the true definition.
- Reflect: Some of the questions require you to study and reflect. As you practice reading, develop a list of common words that authors use to indicate their tone and purpose in their work. For example, a transition phrase like "on the other hand" indicates the weighing or considering of options, whereas a word like "furthermore" indicates the building on, or reinforcing of, a focus point.
These are just a few practical things to keep in mind. Please contact us for many other tips, strategies and more guidance as you prepare for the SAT.