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There are three main components in tackling the SAT Reading Strategy: Content, Strategy and Efficiency.
“If your strategy and efficiency is not there, then that knowledge isn’t going to help you,” SAT Reading Strategy instructor Ayden Rosenberg said during our 151st Open Class. “[The exam] is testing your ability to evoke that knowledge in a certain time frame, and this is where strategy and efficiency comes into play.”
The SAT Reading section of the exam is not just about the content, but about the way you practice taking the exam.
“It’s like learning an instrument or playing a sport, you need to practice,” Ayden said.
The first step in a test taker’s strategy is to go through the whole content and figuring out what kind of questions may be asked throughout the passage, then finding a way to approach them.
Unfortunately there is no how-to formula when it comes to tackling the SAT Reading since it is not as technical or subjective as mathematics. Which is why the best approach is to read the questions before reading the passages.
“If you’re on a beach, would you just pick a random spot to start digging or would you use a metal detector?” Ayden asked. “You would use the metal detector cause it would tell you when you found the thing that is important. The [passage] questions are what we are answering to get that high score.”
Context is key when it comes to your reading strategy. Although phrases and sentences are important, it is important to get used to reading the text around it to have an understanding of the importance of what is actually being said.
Ayden used the phrase “I love you,” which is a straight forward term for endearment and affection, as an example of the importance of context.
“If the next sentence [following the phrase] says ‘he was lying,’ that changes the meaning of what was said,” she said. “It is important to understand and prioritize context about what you are reading in the passages.”
Although it is common for students to get overwhelmed during the exam, Ayden suggests that students focus on one subject at a time and take the time to really narrow the text down.
“It’s scary to look at multiple things at once because the human brain is not used to processing a lot of things at once,” she said. “This is why we really can’t multi-task!”
Being able to differentiate and use the process of elimination will be a helpful skill for test-takers, especially since a part of the test is being aware of what the wrong answers look like.
“There are ways around skills,” Ayden said. “It just takes a little practice.”