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Master the SAT Critical Reading and ACT Reading Tests

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By: Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.

Gen and Kelly Tanabe can answer your question in Expert Advice.




Note the style and attitude of the writer in each of the reading passages.

Use the hints the author gives in the presentation of the subject matter to help you select the correct answers to test questions. You can use the author's point of view to better understand the material. Plus, there is almost always a question that asks you to guess the author's opinion or to select an appropriate title for the passage, both of which require that you have ascertained the author's position and attitude. This tip will help you with the Reading and English sections as well as with the ACT Science Reasoning Test.




For the SAT Sentence Completion questions, look at one blank at a time.

Sentence completion questions have two blanks and answers that are paired. To save time, try one word of the pair in just one blank. If one word of a two-word pair does not fit the sentence, that answer choice is incorrect and you can eliminate it immediately without moving on to the second word.

Quickly remove the answers that don't fit and then deal with your remaining choices. Don't be afraid to actually cross out wrong choices in your test booklet. You don't want to waste time reading them again because you forget that you ruled them out.




First do the questions you can answer most quickly in the SAT Critical Reading and Writing sections.

Since all questions are worth the same amount of points, do the ones that take you less time (usually Sentence Completions) before tackling the ones that take longer to decipher and complete. You want to complete as many questions within the time limit as possible.




Final Thoughts ...

If you feel like you didn't do as well as you could the first time you took the SAT or ACT, the good news is that studies show that students typically improve their scores the second time. We recommend that you take the SAT or ACT at least two or three times. Almost all colleges count your highest score.

While colleges wouldn't hold it against you if you took the exam more than three times, be careful that you don't get SAT Tunnel Vision. This is where you become so obsessed with achieving a certain score that you devote all your effort and time to preparing for it. This is a huge mistake. You do need to prepare for these exams. However, if you make them your only priority to the exclusion of other things like participation in activities, class work, sports and hobbies, you will set yourself up for failure. Plus, you'd probably much rather sleep in on a Saturday morning than take another test!




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