February, 2014

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2 (majorly helpful) tips: ACT & SAT Reading

It’s a snow day here in Harrisonville, MO, (And no, the photo is not from anywhere near here! I just thought it was cool. 🙂 ) and snow days are perfect for catching up on long over due tasks…i.e. posting on here! So, I’m going to share some tips I’ve been giving my ACT students for their test this Saturday.

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1. Use the “line 37” clues effectively

Each reading passage usually has questions referring to specific lines in the passage. “What is the best meaning of the word “saw” (line 37) in this passage?” These questions are awesome because you can go directly to that line and don’t have to search the entire passage for the answer. Now, most students read the entire passage first then answer the questions in order. My tip is to not do this!

Instead, before reading the passage, scan the questions for any that refer to specific lines. Go to those lines in the passage, [bracket them], and write the question # next to it. Do this for any questions that ask about specific people, places, or things, as well. Scan the passage for the name, [bracket it], and write the question # next to it.

After bracketing the lines, start reading the passage from the beginning. Stop when you get to a bracketed line or word. Go to the question and answer it! Do not read the entire passage first.

If you approach a passage the traditional way–by reading the entire passage and then answering the questions–you will most likely have forgotten the details and context around specific lines. By marking the question in advance and answering it right away, the details and context will be much fresher and the question will be easier to answer.

2. Improve your reading speed & comprehension

Slow reading speed and low comprehension on difficult passages are two major reasons the reading portion of the ACT & SAT is challenging for many students. I’ve found an excellent video published by Iris Reading–a company that teaches business professionals how to improve their work capacity and effectiveness through reading skills. It is a five-part video about an hour long. Here are the links:

Free Speed Reading Course — Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3 — Part 4 — Part 5

There are two articles they use to practice during the video. The links will pop up, but you can’t click on or copy and paste them, so here they are: Article 1; Article 2.

The ideas he talks about may seem strange, but if you practice them, they really do work.  I improved my own reading speed by 100 words per minute in just the hour it took to watch the video!

Happy Studying!

Rachel Cheslik

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