Ah, summertime. Time to relax, shut your brain off, and finally have a little time for rest and relaxation. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
It does! But September comes quickly, and it’s important that you use your free months wisely. Balance that R&R with some SAT/ACT prep to make sure that you’re making the most of your July and August (we’ll give you June off). Our next few blog posts are going to discuss things that you can do over the summer months to make sure you’re sharp and ready to go when school’s back in session!
Summer Tip #1: READ.
The critical reading section of the SAT/ACT is, by far, the most difficult to improve. That’s because, unlike the math and writing sections, which have a host of fun little “tricks” to help boost your score, the critical reading section is almost entirely based on how well you’re able to quickly read and process dense reading material. There’s no trick, there’s no shortcut; if you want to improve your CR score, you need to become a better reader.
So pick up a book and start reading! If you’re a reluctant reader, start with something fun and frivolous, with the idea that you’ll move on to something more challenging as the summer progresses. If you’re already reading for fun but just have trouble connecting to the dry CR passages, try committing to reading academic, non-fiction work on a daily basis. Familiarizing yourself with scientific texts or biographies can be particularly helpful, as those are passage types on the SAT/ACT that students tend to struggle with.
A good goal is to read for at least thirty minutes a day without interruption. The biggest problem that students have with the reading section is that they have trouble focusing — and there’s absolutely nothing that is going to help you focus better than practicing. If you’re not used to reading academic material for more than a few minutes at a time, tackling a long passage can feel completely intimidating, so it’s important to make sure that you’re building up your endurance.
Once you’ve got the reading itself down, start testing your comprehension. Are you really understanding what you’re reading? Take notes, underline, and circle important concepts as you move through the passage. Stop at the end of each paragraph and check to make sure you’re reading deeply enough to be able to answer basic questions about the passage.
The more you read, the better. Pick a book about a subject you’re interested in, but, again, try to aim for challenging, academic material. Most students are easily able to make it through a novel or short story collection, but are going to have a trickier time with a Scientific American article or a biographical portrait of Thomas Jefferson. Use the summer to learn something new, get ahead of the curve, and make sure that the Critical Reading section is a breeze!