The SAT Reading Comprehension: Basic Principles
In This Article:
You know you shouldn't underline details on the SAT as you read, but if you're used to writing margin notes in the books you read for schoolan outstanding practice that I highly recommendthis next technique may appeal to you.
When you read the newspaper, most articles start off with a main headline that summarizes the entire article. Every few paragraphs you will often see a sub headline that summarizes the next few paragraphs. If you were to read only those headlines, you'd understand the gist of the entire article without getting swamped by all the details.
Unfortunately, SAT passages don't come with helpful titles or subtitles, but you can write them yourself. I call these IM Summaries to emphasize that you should keep them super-short, as if you were writing a text message to a friend.
Keep it brief. Your IM summaries don't need to be grammatically correct, and of course you should abbreviate as much as possible. Your IM summaries are for your benefit; it's not like anyone else will read them.
Creating these IM summaries is an active process that forces you to come to grips with the main idea of each paragraph. Many students find that this process helps them focus and helps them ignore the details (which won't help you write a summary).
If you have trouble summarizing a paragraph, you're reading the text too closely and getting lost in the details. In other words, read only enough of a paragraph to summarize its contents. As soon as you've read enough of a paragraph to write an IM summary, jump to the next paragraph and continue the process. Get to the questions; get to the questions.
IM Summary Drill
In the sample passage you just read, create IM summaries for each of the three paragraphs. Try to create your summaries without rereading the entire passage, which would defeat the point. You'll find my summaries on the last page of this article.
The Fourth and Final Step: Answering the Questions
The first three steps of our approach to the reading passages and questions are designed to let you extract the gist of the passage as quickly as possible so that you'll be prepared to spend most of your time on the questions.
After we finish discussing our process of elimination techniques, we'll discuss the minor modifications we need to make to our general method for special situations. Finally, we'll consider how to manage your time to maximize the number of questions you're able to answer correctly.
Take a Break from the Reading Section for Now
We've covered a lot of ground in this article so you've earned a breather. If you'd like to do more work today, I'd recommend switching to a different SAT subjectmath, vocabulary, whateverbut give the basic reading concepts you've just learned a day or so to gel before you move on to the advanced reading concepts.
The reading method you've learned in this article can be applied to your everyday school reading as well. Try using this approach when you have lengthy nonfiction reading assignmentsnot fictionand you'll be amazed at how much time you['ll save. The more you use these techniques, the more comfortable you'll be using them under pressure on the actual SAT.
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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.
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