Students are under a lot of pressure with timed, standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT to read long passages and retain a great detail of information to answer question after question in a short amount of time, but not everyone is a fast reader. Many students have to read and re-read passages to retain the appropriate information and slow readers just don’t have the time. A popular question with ACT and SAT prep students is: How can I get through the passages with such a short amount of time? The short answer is. Don’t.
Don’t read through the passages so carefully. Speed read or briefly scan over the major words, headers, first sentences, and major terms of passages the first go around. Then read the questions associated with the passage to get an idea of what the passage is about and what the questions are looking for. Then, if needed, go back through with greater detail remembering what you saw when you were speed reading and what paragraphs held which information to read certain paragraphs in greater detail to answer questions that require more information.
Of course, we don’t suggest that you try this for the first time on your test. Practice makes perfect! Apply for a diagnostics test with SAT Prep Group and practice speed reading passages. Buy a proper College Board ACT or SAT testing book and practice speed reading their passages by scanning the main ideas of each paragraph (generally the topic sentence of each paragraph). Take note that speed reading isn’t about how fast you can read but how quickly you can understand a passage. Do not miss the subject by trying to read a passage quickly.
Practice by underlining the main topic of each paragraph and taking your own notes to summarize each paragraph to the side in 1-3 words, circling character names as you come across them, and figure out a system that works for you to understand.
As you come across questions on the test, deal with the easiest questions for that are most general and based on broad topics that you easily remember from the overall summary of the passage. Then tackle the more specific questions by referring back to the underlined topic sentences, circled character names, and your summarized notes.
Just remember not to spend too much time on the information, taking notes, or organizing. Do not spend time worrying about what your’e doing or if you have it right. It is up to you to decide what method will work best for you in summarizing each paragraph.
As always, if you have any questions, let us know in the comments below or Contact Us.
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