A good working mastery of math and English content is critical for success on the SAT & ACT. The reading sections of these tests has always been more about strategy. The right approach to reading will boost a student’s confidence and lead to better results.
I recently had a phone conversation with my daughter, a senior at a Hudson Valley college. She told me she was taking a course from a history professor who was giving “tricky” multiple choice tests. I gave her one piece of advice: “Formulate your answer independently, before looking at the answer choices.” Following this strategy, my daughter improved her performance in the class (and this momma was happy for a chance to help her grown-up daughter!)
When students take the few seconds to answer a test question in their own words, they need not labor over the various answer choices. A student’s formulated answer will often resemble the right answer, closely enough that she can “bubble in” and move on. Taking time to answer independently saves time!
Even better, a commitment to predicting answers doesn’t just help on the reading sections of the SAT and ACT. Prediction lends speed and accuracy to every section. Obviously, most students solve math problems directly rather than working backwards from the answer choices (except when that is the smart strategy) but the same proactive approach works for grammar and science questions as well. Prediction plays a major role in getting the most test questions right as quickly and easily as possible.
The added benefit? As students practice this answer formulation strategy, they gain confidence in their own reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Confidence gives a psychological edge, leading a student to approach tests and school alike positively: “I can read complex passages, think critically, and draw my own conclusions!” Good preparation for college level work, yes?