Without the stress of group projects, quizzes, or formatting a works cited page, summer is the perfect time to start gearing up for the SAT Reading. Whether you’re on the road or at the beach, there are a few ways you can start prepping bit by bit.
Have you ever read a sentence three times only to find yourself wondering, “what the heck did I just read?” You’re not alone: one of the most common obstacles students encounter in the SAT Reading is remembering information from the passages.
To help you work on the valuable SAT skill of retaining information, here’s a four-step process you can use to get ready for the fall SAT on a daily basis.
Step One: Figure Out How to Get the Newspaper
To start prepping, all you need is access to a good ol’ fashioned newspaper. You might be thinking, “But no one reads the newspaper anymore!” Here’s the thing: using a newspaper is a great way to prep for the SAT because one newspaper contains articles on all sorts of topics. Just like the SAT, you can read about arts & culture, current events, and more. Plus, an actual newspaper mimics the SAT since both are on paper.
An easy and free way to read the daily paper is to visit your local public library. You can try several different newspapers to see which one you like best.
Daily 5 minute task: none – one time task!
Step Two: Get in the Habit of Reading an Article a Day
Once you have access to the newspaper, start reading one article per day. That’s it! Don’t worry if you don’t totally understand the article. Getting in the habit of reading is the important part.
The SAT Reading will ask you to answer questions on different types of passages. To help you prepare, below is a sample weekly schedule of what kinds of articles to read. That way, you can get accustomed to reading about topics that might be unfamiliar.
Arts & culture
Whatever you like!
Like what you read? Save it to incorporate it into a research paper next year!
Daily 5 minute task: read one article a day
Step Three: Create Your Own Note-Taking System
After getting into the habit of reading an article a day for one week, begin determining your preferred note-taking method. By learning how to take notes in a way that works for you, you’ll retain more information while maintaining test-taking stamina. Taking notes on your daily newspaper article is a great way to practice.
Most people know that underlining main ideas is helpful. Other ways to take notes include circling proper nouns, dates, and numbers, marking off lists of examples, etc. Feel free to get creative, but keep in mind that you’ll only have your #2 pencil on test day (i.e. don’t use highlighters or multi-colored pens).
Bonus: learn how to cite sources here.
Daily 5 minute task: take notes while reading an article
Step Four: Learn How To Identify the Main Idea
Once you’ve gotten used to taking notes while reading your daily article, end your five-minute routine by identifying the article’s main idea. A lot of the SAT Reading questions will ask you to determine the author’s main point, a skill that takes real-time practice.
Keep in mind that the difference between a main topic and main idea is that a topic refers to the article’s subject matter, whereas the main idea is the argument behind the topic. For example, a science article’s topic may be climate change, but the main idea is that human activity is contributing to climate change.
Daily 5 minute task: write one sentence identifying the main idea after taking notes while reading.
This four-step process over time will help to improve your reading comprehension and retention. Not only will this help you be ready for the SAT Reading, but you’ll also find that you can apply this process to your class readings too!