If you were to ask the majority of students how they prepare for the SAT, you’d likely get some combination of, “My parents hired a private tutor,” “I took an SAT class with a bunch of other students,” or “I took practice tests until my eyes bled.” And for many students, these methods are effective. However, when it comes to SAT prep, effective is often synonymous with painful and boring. So, while you shouldn’t forego SAT classes and practice tests entirely, there are a number of ways to supplement your SAT preparation that won’t bore you to tears.
This “Painless SAT Preparation” series is ongoing, with new tips added each week. I’ll start by providing a few tips on how to make SAT Reading Test preparation a bit easier, but you can expect to see some Writing & Language and Math Test tips soon. So check back often for more tips and tricks!
Painless SAT Preparation: The Reading Test, Part 1
The main goal of the SAT Reading Test is to determine how well you understand what you read. Many students I talk to claim to read very little or not at all, but I find this hard to believe. Most people read much more than they realize.
Nearly all information online is written, so whenever you read a movie review, check advice on the best NBA draft picks, or peruse a blog—you’re reading. Admittedly, most blogs (this one included) are not as dense or eloquent as an SAT Reading Test passage, but online content can still provide solid SAT preparation, provided you pay attention to what you read. Because, although the SAT Reading Test consists of 52 questions, most of them are basically asking you to assess what a passage says, why a passage was written, or how a passage conveys information. So the next time you’re reading something, be it online or in print, try to do one or more of the following:
Summarize what you read: Quickly recapping information helps you ensure that you understand what you’re reading. If a sentence or paragraph is particularly confusing, try rewording it in terms that are easier for you to understand. Doing so will help you better remember what you read.
Determine an author’s purpose: Everything is written for a reason. Some writing is meant to persuade, some to inform, and some to entertain. Most writing serves more than one purpose. This blog, for example serves to inform in a (hopefully) entertaining way. Identifying purpose helps you understand why an author wants you to read his or her work.
Pay attention to presentation: Here, “presentation” refers to the organization and tone of a piece of writing. When looking at organization, first determine how the author arranges information; then determine how this arrangement affects your attitude toward what you’re reading. For example, if a piece of writing begins with an anecdote, it might indicate that the author is trying to establish a friendly relationship with his or her audience.
About the author: Evan Gerdisch is a writer and editor employee at Kallis Edu, where he has helped develop over a dozen study guides, and has served as a freelance SAT and ACT tutor for over four years.