Teachers and tutors urge students who want to improve to “read more.” But what does that mean? How do you do it to actually improve more? Here are some guidelines to help you use articles to improve your SAT reading skills.
Step 1–Identify the type of articles used on the SAT
Not all writing on the internet is written at the same level as the SAT. Some information is written far below and some far above the level of the SAT. The Economist, Scientific American, Nature, New Scientist, Science, Wired, and The New York Times are all great sources of articles for reading practice.
Step 2–Identify an article to read that day
Students frequently get overly ambitious and decide that they will read 50 pages or an entire magazine. The problem with this is that they then proceed to rush through. They skim over language that is challenging without really taking anything in. Choose 1 article a day and plan to spend 20-30 minutes really reading and understanding it.
Step 3–Identify the Main Idea
The skill of being able to identify the main idea can be a huge help on the SAT. Understanding the main idea will help you to understand the passage as a whole.
Step 4– make a list of unfamiliar Vocabulary
Weak readers tend to have limited vocabulary. This is the problem that often prevents them from improving their reading speed and efficiency. Some students create their own dictionary by using a notebook and placing all of the “A” words on the first few pages, “B” words together a couple pages later etc. With your words you should include some context. Some students create flash cards instead of a notebook. Yes, this is a lot of work. But there is no real shortcut, aside from taking 5-10 years and reading a book a week to more naturally assimilate the vocabulary.
Step 5–Create an outline of the article
This can be quick. Just write out the parts of the article to get an overall sense of what the parts of the article are. These articles and notes can improve your reading by building vocabulary and background knowledge.
Step 6–Check with Somebody
This might be the most important part. You could check with a study partner, a parent, a tutor. But you should see if someone agrees with your main idea and outline.
Step 7–Give it Time
I often hear students complain that they have been practicing for 2 whole weeks, but don’t feel that their reading has improved. Sorry, but you need to give it much longer than a couple of weeks to go from a non-reader to an efficient reader. If you wanted to become a skilled pianist would you expect it to take a couple weeks of practice or longer? I’m hoping you agree that it can take a long time to see real improvement. Reading is a cumulative skill that takes time to improve because there is a variety of skills that need to work in concert to see improvement. It isn’t impossible, but you do need to give it time.
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