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Free SAT prep for rising Juniors

Reading comprehension is for many the most difficult section on the SAT. The passages are unfamiliar and – to many – boring. Even those students who do well in high school English classes struggle with the reading, and many have a difficult time raising their scores. To improve reading comprehension, students must read material similar to that on the SAT, and they must read a lot of it. But junior year is the most rigorous for high school students, and they have little time for extra reading. To head off this problem, students must start preparing the summer before their junior year.  

SAT Reading comprehension contains mostly detail-oriented non-fiction, far different from the plot-driven fiction students encounter in high school. This reading is difficult at first, but students can improve by reading a weekly periodical or a daily newspaper throughout the summer. The New Yorker, Newsweek, and The New York Times provide challenging articles that boost reading comprehension skills. Students should read these articles actively, making sure they understand one paragraph before moving on to the next. Little by little, this type of writing will become easier to understand.  

In addition, many students complain that SAT reading is boring. This excuse is terrible, but since it’s so common, it deserves addressing. The reading section is used to determine how one student ranks against others in reading ability, and dry passages separate the good readers from the bad. It’s not a pleasure cruise; it’s a test. It’s not supposed to be fascinating. Just as they answer math questions they don’t love on the math section, students must read passages they don’t love on the reading section. Reading most of the articles in a magazine or paper is great practice to increase one’s ability to tolerate “boring” material, and students may soon discover it’s not so boring after all.  

It is difficult to improve reading comprehension over a short period of time, especially on top of school work. But if juniors put in effort over the summer, they can greatly improve their reading comprehension scores before opening a test booklet. It’s the worth the time and effort.

TIP #2: Learning from your Mistakes

Learning from your Mistakes

The best resource available for the SAT is the College Board’s The Official SAT Study Guide, which has ten tests with actual SAT problems. These tests are invaluable for gauging where you’re strong and where you need help. But you must do more than just finish the tests. You must go over every question you got wrong and find out why you missed it. It’s the most important thing you can do to raise your score.

There are only so many ways to phrase a rate problem, and there are only so many things to ask about a triangle. The College Board repeatedly uses the same problem structure and wording in their questions. If a question confused you, learn from it. Break it down and figure out where you went wrong, because chances are you’ll see something like it again. For instance:

If -4 < j < 9 and 0 < k < 10, which of the following gives the set of
all possible values of jk?
(A)    0 < jk < 40
(B)    0 < jk < 90
(C)    0 < jk < 100
(D)    -36 < jk < 90
(E)    -40 < jk < 90

The answer to this question isn’t (B). Finding the range of jk is not as straightforward as multiplying -4 and 0 for the least value, then multiplying 9 and 10 for the greatest. Because j can be negative, jk can be negative. If you make j equal -4 and make k equal 11, jk equals -44. The correct answer is (E).

Most students miss this question the first time they see it. But few who realize why they missed it ever miss it again. Going over missed problems can give you insight on how to approach related problems in the future. Since you’ll see a lot of the same problem types again and again, it’s a great way to boost your score.

 If you’d like to take an actual SAT and receive videotaped explanations to every question, go to the free demo section at this site:  Taking an actual SAT is perhaps the best way to improve your scores in a short period of time!

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Posted in Free SAT Course.

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One Response

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  1. Christian says

    Hi – nice post, filled with great advice!

    I’m an independent SAT tutor and perfect 2400 scorer and I agree with a lot of this. The Reading section is the only one that EVER makes me nervous, because while the grammar and math sections follow completely unalterable, undebatable rules, the critical reading answer choices will ALWAYS have some degree of personal subjectivity to them. Sometimes the correct answer is just so incredibly picky and arbitrary seeming.

    Also, I laughed out loud about SAT reading passages being “boring” – probably the #1 complaint I hear. I hate to say it, but “suck it up!” I only have tough love for this complaint – the passage is boring to everyone else in the room, too, but the high scorers buckle down and DEAL with it. Complaining gets you nowhere, action and focus get you everywhere.

    A super-effective way to deal with boring passages is a good note-taking strategy. I wrote an article on it here:

    There’s also tons of other SAT prep tips there, as well as my review of the Number 1 speed reading program I’ve found to recommend to my students.

    Check it out!

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