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Tips for Improving Your Reading Score on the SAT or ACT

10 Tips for Improving Your Reading Skills

It’s that time of year again, when teenagers turn their focus to upcoming SAT and ACT testing, and that means everyone’s favorite: reading comprehension. Chances are good that most teens have mastered basic reading skills by this point in their education, but they may still need some pointers to develop and improve the more complex aspects of demonstrating their ability to work with written materials. No need to worry yet, however, because there is still time to strengthen reading strategies and improve overall performance.  Test preparation in Greenville can make a difference not only on the day of the test, but will also help improve lifelong learning habits. Here are 10 tips to improve reading skills before taking the big tests.

1. Find the Essence

When working with a text, start by determining the main idea. It can be found in the introductory paragraph, and you want to remember and continue to look for it throughout the body.

2. Summarize and Simplify

After you finish a paragraph, take a quick moment to condense the information into a short sentence or phrase. Jot it down on scratch paper, or in the margins so that you can scan your notes before answering the questions.

3. Deduce the Data

This is where critical thinking comes into play. Reading comprehension isn’t about the words strung together on a page; it is about understanding what those sentences are trying to tell you beyond the words themselves.

4. Apply Your Understanding

If those other steps have gotten you this far, you should be in a good position to answer complex
questions to demonstrate your grasp of the material.

Those four tips are a good approach to reading anything from graphic novels to newspapers. If you start with those skills and apply them to test preparation in Greenville, you may notice even better results for standardized or achievement exams.

5. Connect the Dots

You understand that reading comprehension focuses on identifying the theme in a text. You should try to concentrate on tying that main idea from one paragraph to the next so that you recognize how the
sections relate to each other and to the main idea.

6. Take the Time

What makes the SAT and ACT tests particularly challenging are the time constraints. Students may not be accustomed to working under timed pressure, and that extra stress can affect their performance. By practicing these techniques, students can focus on the test and not the clock.

7. Pay Attention

In addition to tracking main ideas, students should also keep track of key opinions and sources that may be mentioned in a text. Details are included for a reason, and students will spend less time rereading passages if they make note of them before answering questions.

8. Take a Hint

When reading a short passage, you may want to scan the questions first. With longer text, put more
time into analyzing the information before reviewing the answers. That way, when you do read the
questions, you can recognize context clues and other hints.

9. Make a Prediction

Try to predict possible answers before you look at your choices. If you mentally review the information you have read, you may be able to narrow down your options quickly to arrive at the correct answer.

10. Avoid Pitfalls

The ACT and SAT are notorious for trap questions. They may change small details, include information in a question that was not in the text, or take correct information and distort it by making it extreme or even the opposite of what you read. Be on the lookout for these kinds of problems that are designed to make you second-guess your understanding.

These tips to help with test preparation in Greenville should help your teenager create tactics to manage the reading comprehension portion of the SAT and ACT.  They will also be valuable skills for continuing education, career paths, and strengthening a lifelong passion for reading and learning. How about a bonus tip? Relax! Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and go for it.


Carolina Academy for Educational Excellence

Ellen Goldman