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What are the best strategies to help with the SAT Critical Reading section?

It is important to keep in mind that the entire SAT is a reading test, and even the math sections require that you have strong reading skills. Reading is a skill that develops over time and requires skills acquired through strategic learning. The challenging news is that these skills call for consistent discipline and daily practice. The good news is that it is never too late to develop good reading habits and increase your skill-level.

Cliffs Notes SAT study guide illustrates a systematic approach that emphasizes “active reading skills.” This approach has helped hundreds of students raise their SAT scores. The reading strategies have been researched and developed by educators and reading experts who specialize in test preparation. Active reading is similar to being a good detective. To answer SAT reading questions, test-takers must practice using skills that paraphrase, visualize, clarify, question, predict and link mental associations to the “context” of important points in the written material.

In addition to active reading skills, it is important to learn strategies unique to the SAT. For example, the strategy listed below is one of the many strategies included in the book.

Reading is a habit that develops through time and practice. At least eight weeks before your exam, spend about 20 to 30 minutes per day, reading faster than your normal reading speed. As you read, pay special attention to key words—structural triggers and transitional words. Circle or underline these key words in your exam booklet. This process will help stimulate and build pathways to a part of your brain that strengthens cognitive reading development. Developing good reading habits is similar to going to the gym to build and strengthen a muscle in your body. You must frequently practice reading to build your brain “muscles.” You can read newspaper editorials, internet news, magazine articles, or book excerpts. Don’t get hooked into reading only interesting articles. Try to read material that you might not normally read because you have no interest in the topic. Most likely the passages on the SAT will be ones that you may not normally choose to read.

To learn more about active reading skills and specific reading strategies to help you score well on the SAT, read Cliffs Notes SAT (ISBN #978-1118057599) available on amazon.com for about $18-$20.  The easy-to-read book includes a diagnostic test with seven full-length practice tests (and a CD/ROM).

~ BTPS Testing Team
“Reach Your Potential”

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