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Reading Comprehension – 71% (part one)



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Reading Comprehension is one of the most labor intensive and time consuming sections of the SAT exam.  It is about 71% of the ‘Reading’ section of the test.  It used to be called the ‘verbal’ section in the old days.  Even the most practiced of test takers is prone to take a loss in this section because of the lack of time and the laborious nature of the passages.  The passages routinely set new records for “soporific effect”.  (see below)  This is done intentionally, as the more bored you are, the less attention you’ll pay to detail.  Then, the prepared students will come out ahead, as they always do.  Don’t get left behind – have a plan.  As a matter of fact, having a plan is always superior to no plan, as a bad plan can be changed for the better. Having no plan is just foolish, as being rudderless leaves you vulnerable to society’s vultures.  It is also the state that the test creators assume, and that’s how they set their traps.

What kind of passages are there on the exam?  There are five passage types.  Learn to recognize each one.  Why? Because  the types with which you are most comfortable should be the ones that you try to answer all of the questions.  Skipping questions costs you nothing, guessing incorrectly costs you 1/4 of a point.  The topics where you are most comfortable should be a signal to you to go all out to get the most points – ‘wringing’ as many points as possible out of that part.  The passage types that are most dull to you are a signal to you to NOT fall into the trap of guessing.  Part of your game plan is to take the exam in an intelligent manner.  There is a method to the exam writer’s madness, I’m not sure there’s a method to yours.  Now you have a method and a strategy.

Reading Comprehension – Derivation

  1. Philosophical – Eastern and Western / Greek and Roman philosophy / John Locke / John Stuart Mill…
  2. Social Sciences – Economics, Political Science, Civics, Psychology, Sociology…
  3. Physical Science – Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy, Chemistry…
  4. Historical – American History, World History, US History & Gov’t, Biography, Autobiography…
  5. Ethnic – Multicultural topics, representing to an amalgam of cultures…

Be aware of these types – all of the passages can fit into one of these topics.  You may be comfortable in one area, and not so much in another.  Using this knowledge can help you ‘pick and choose’ to a certain point where you might want to skip a question or two.  In addition you’ll see:

  • Double passages
  • Short passages (one or two paragraphs)
  • Longer passages (1600 word behemoths)

Awareness is the key.  Next post will deal with how to approach EVERY reading comprehension section.


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