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Introduction to the SAT Reading Test

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Fortunately, you don't have to know the definition of every word in a question to answer the question correctly. As you'll learn shortly, using process of elimination means that you'll have to know at most four of the five choices on any question in order to determine the answer. If the answer isn't one of the four choices you know, its in the fifth choice that you don't know. And sometimes you can answer a question knowing even fewer than four of the five choices.

I don't mean to suggest that you'll need an incredible vocabulary to answer the sentence completions and many of the reading questions, but that the more words you learn, the easier the entire SAT Reading Test will be. In addition to the tangible benefit of knowing words, there's also the psychological edge—the kick of seeing a word that you know, especially one that you recently learned.

Here are some of the ways you'll be learning to improve your reading score:

  • how to use your time more efficiently by learning which questions you should spend the most amount of time on, which you should spend the least amount of time on, and which you should consider skipping entirely
  • how to avoid the dangers of process of elimination, and how to use it properly to answer questions even when you don't understand the answer
  • how to improve your comprehension of the passages by reading less
  • how to use order of difficulty on the sentence completions to catch potential errors and to improve your odds when you re forced to guess
These techniques are designed to help you get the most mileage from the words you already know, but at the same time you should be working assiduously on your vocabulary.

Before we get to specific techniques for answering sentence completions and reading questions, the rest of this articlewill introduce you to some general skills that you'll be applying later.

Process of Elimination on Sentence Completions and Reading Questions
The great thing about a multiple-choice test is that the answers are always right in front of you. You don't have to come up with the answer to a question out of the blue, you just have to recognize the answer among the choices. It's better than that: you don't even have to recognize the answer if you are able determine that all the other choices are wrong.

Everyone has heard of process of elimination but most students do not apply it correctly. For example, many students decide on the answer to a question first, and then eliminate all the other choices. The key to process of elimination is not looking for the answer, but remaining open-minded until you discover the answer by eliminating all the other choices.

There's a more serious mistake that even you are likely to make from time to time, so pay close attention. There's an enormous but subtle difference between the following two situations:

  • eliminating a choice that you know is wrong,
  • versus

  • eliminating a choice that merely seems wrong.
Consider an easy question. The question and answer choices look something like this:

Easy Question:

    blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
    1. Wrong.

    2. Bingo, the answer!

    3. Wrong.

    4. Wrong.

    5. Wrong.

No prob, right? It's an easy question and the answer practically pops out at you.

Now consider a hard question. The answer doesn't pop out at all. Now the question and choices look something like this:

Hard Question:

    blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
    1. Wrong.

    2. Could be right, I suppose; I'm not sure.

    3. Hunh? Nah, I don't think this is right.

    4. What? Hunh? No, this doesn't seem right either.

    5. No way, wrong.

The hunh? choices are the ones you have to be careful about. Most students are too quick to eliminate odd choices that seem wrong. I'm not saying that seemingly strange choices are always right. Don't be too quick, however, to eliminate a choice you're not sure about, whether it's a tough vocabulary word on a sentence completion or a choice on a reading question that you don't quite understand.

Next: Page 3 >>

From The RocketReview Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to the New SAT and the PSAT by Adam Robinson. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here.

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