Cracking the Section: Critical Reading

General / Lea**** on Jan 18, 2016
Cracking the Section: Critical Reading

The most challenging issue with Reading section is that you are asked a range of questions that require your comprehension through analysis of read texts. Although it sometimes might cause a headache and frustration, with proper preparation strategy, you can master your skills for Reading section in a way that you will even enjoy it during the test. Besides, next four years in college will make you read more that you can imaging, therefore, learning the effective reading skills will make your college life a lot easier.

It is important to use specific techniques in order to prepare for Reading section – sophisticated reading, building your vocabulary, improving your summarizing skills and memory trainings. Let us go together through specific steps you should take that will help you ace the test.

Sophisticated reading.

In general, the reading passages include parts of real books or published articles that might appear in your school curriculum. This is your great advantage.

Most of SAT/ACT study guides provide you a sample list of the type of books that might appear in Critical Reading section. It is very helpful to go through that reading list. Students of all ages will benefit tremendously as high-level reading can produce drastic improvement on the Reading test.

Do not get us wrong. Reading two days before the test will do little, if anything, in terms of improving your score. Sophisticated reading is more about developing a habit to read challenging materials.

Build your vocabulary.

Critical Reading sections do have tricks, but not the one you think. Your main problem and, at the same time, salvation might be your vocabulary. Thousands of students fail because they simply do not know the meaning of words contained in the answer options.

You have to avoid being trapped like that. Build your vocabulary by using flash cards to memorize words. Try to use them in daily conversations. Do not hesitate to explain the meaning of the words if someone asks – they learn, you memorize. Regular practices exercised daily or weekly, will eventually become a great helping hand on the test day.

Practice your summarizing skills.

One of the most challenging Critical Reading questions are ones where you’re asked to describe the tone of the passage or the intention of the author. You might get confused as how would you ever know, but… it is not that difficult if you learn the patterns.

It is all about your ability to recognize the subtle underlying mood or message behind the words, and you definitely can improve your ability to judge the tone and intention if you practice hard enough.

When you read sophisticated materials, you should stop every few paragraphs and try to mentally summarize the main points, arguments, opinions, and feelings that have just been conveyed. This technique will allow you to train yourself to keep attuned to the subtleties of feeling and purpose that are hidden in all high-level writing.

Train Your Memory

It sounds very easy to do, but in reality, requires a lot of effort from you. Why strong memory is so important in reading test? Because if you train your memory you won’t have to waste you precious time searching for particular words, phrases, or sentences in longer passages.

The good news is that while mastering your skills of critical reading, you train your memory as well. When you do critical reading, stop every few paragraphs and try to summarize what you just have read. Then, you should try to memorize it, not every single word of course, but try to describe what you just have read as detailed as possible. Not only characters' names, personalities, or appearances, but how the plot/idea has developed or what the narrator said that would reveal his/her own personal opinion.

By answering these questions, you mentally train yourself to remember minor details and nuances. Strengthen your memory, and your test performance will improve.