How to Improve Reading Comprehension

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Improving reading comprehension on the SAT can be done by carefully reading the italic paragraph before the passage, reading the entire passage straight through for main idea and tone and answering the line number questions before tackling the main idea questions. Improve reading comprehension, which can significantly raise an SAT score, with information from a standardized test prep instructor in this free video on education.

Part of the Video Series: Education: English, Math & Teaching
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Video Transcript

Let's talk about how to improve reading comprehension for the SAT. A lot of students think you can't actually improve your Reading Comprehension score on the SAT the way you can Math, where you learn new formulas and new concepts, but you actually can. I find that if you use this method students usually improve a lot. Alright, so here's the way we're going to do it, when you come to a reading passage on the SAT in the Reading section, you're going to start by reading the italics. And a lot of times people actually skip that, they think that they'll save a little time and not read those. What I'm talking about is, at the beginning of a passage there'll be a few lines that are in italics. So a lot of times people skip them trying to save time. But you should definitely read them because a lot of times the main idea of the passage will actually be expressed right there. Sometimes they'll tell you the topic of the essay, they might even describe characters in the essay, or in the passage you're about to read, so very, very helpful. And you're actually going to read that very carefully. If you need to re-read it two or three times, it's worth the time to do that. Then you're going to go to the passage. Now, when you read the passage, you're actually just going to read it for main idea and tone. Main idea is like what's it about, you may already kind of know. Tone is, how does the author feel about the topic, what's his or her take on it, what's the deal? Why is he or she writing this? What's the point? What's the point, really? So you're going to read it just for that, and, this is the great part, when you come to a particular sentence that's hard to read, you feel like you need to re-read it, you didn't get it, maybe you spaced out thinking about lunch for a minute or something like that, that's okay, you're actually just going to move on. It's hard to do, it's hard to have the discipline to do it, but you're just going to keep going. Now you might not do this, by the way, if you're reading your History text for a quiz. You might need to re-read it and get the details for the quiz, but the SAT is a little different, we're going to do it this way. So, you're just going to read for main idea and tone, you're not going to re-read hard lines, you're not going to re-read if you spaced out for a line or two. When you've finished reading it, the passage, pause for a minute and just answer the question, what was it about and what was the author's take on it, what's his deal, or her, what's her point. Then go to the questions. Now, first you're going to do what we call line number questions. You're going to do questions that tell you what line to look back at. And when you re-read that line you're going to re-read a little before and a little after the line that it refers you to. Usually the answer is actually not in the line itself, but in the line before or after. Then, after you've done all the line number questions, then you'll do the questions you may have skipped that were the main idea or tone questions. After you've done all the line number questions it's kind of like you've almost reprocessed the passage, you probably will understand it twice as well as you understood it before. And now you're really ready for the main idea and tone questions so you'll do those last.


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