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Posts Tagged ‘SAT 1’

The Sweet Sixteen Strategies for SAT® Success

These sixteen general strategies will make a significant difference on both the SAT® and ACT® test. Practice these on school tests and with SAT® and ACT® practice questions to score more points on the exams.

1. Be familiar with directions for each type of SAT® and ACT® question. Don’t waste precious time reading the directions.

2. Don’t waste too much time on any one test problem. The test problems are all roughly worth the same amount of points. Calculate how much time you will have at the beginning of each section of test problems. Then write down the projected ending time in the test margins. Use a digital watch to gauge your testing pace.

3. Don’t rush through the test problems. These reading sections are not light reading. Be careful not to read into the test problem more than what is really there. Accuracy is more important than speed.

4. Read each question stem (not the answer choices) twice before looking at the answers. It is easy to miss a key word if you only read the test problem stem only once.

5. Read all answer choices before selecting one. The first answer may look right, but another may be better. The questions can be intentionally very tricky in this regard.

6. Review only those answers of which you were unsure when first working through the questions. Don’t change already marked answers. More often than not, your first selection was best.

7. Look for the wrong answers first, not the right one. Use the process of elimination. It is easier to make a decision among fewer choices than many. Your guessing odds are substantially bettered with each wrong answer eliminated. Cross out all eliminated answers as you go.

8. Make sure to guess. Even if you have no idea how to answer a test problem, and even though you are penalized a slight amount (one-fourth-point deduction for a five-choice question and one-third point deduction for a four-choice question), it is best to not leave the answer blank. Of course, don’t guess on math grid-in questions.

9. Remember that each group of test problems generally begins with the easiest and ends with the most difficult. Be careful… the easiest may take more time than the harder ones, especially in the math sections. Since each test problem is worth the same amount of points, it makes sense to invest your time and effort on the questions that will be both easier and quicker to answer.

10. The test is designed so that most everyone gets THE EASY THIRD, some get THE MEDIUM THIRD, and few get THE HARD THIRD questions correct. Take advantage of this design with strategic guessing. If you must guess, select a simple answer for THE EASY THIRD and a difficult answer for THE HARD THIRD. The wrong answer choices are more obvious and less tricky with THE EASY THIRD and less obvious and trickier with THE HARD THIRD.

11. If the answer choice looks too good to be true, it just may be. Watch out for the tricks of the SAT, especially in THE MEDIUM THIRD and THE HARD THIRD sections.

12. Write in your test booklet. Write your answer choices next to the test problem numbers. Cross out eliminated answer choices and circle the numbers of the test problems that you want to review before answering. Circle important words in the reading and writing sections. In the math sections, make drawings to help you figure out word problems. Add information to graphs, drawings, and diagrams as you figure.

13. In the reading and writing test problems, match negative to negative or positive to positive regarding tone or vocabulary.

14. Transfer all of your answers when finished with each test sub-section. In other words, don’t go back and forth from the test booklet to the answer sheet, marking one at a time. This strategy will save you time and help you avoid mis-marking answer choices.

15. Absolute words, such as always or never, are usually part of incorrect answer choices. Exception words, such as frequently or mostly, are usually part of correct answer choices.

16. Think positively, stay focused on the test problem at hand, avoid distractions, and keep things in perspective. Remember that you can take the exams again.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the 56 lessons inEssential Study Skills (eBook) will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable.

Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, advocacy/advisory, opportunity program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Test anxiety plagues many students from elementary school through post-graduate work.  Many students literally fear taking tests and can “freeze up” at the first challenging question. Are you one of these students? If so, how can you learn to relax and build test-taking confidence?

First of all, teach yourself that no one is perfect. Perfectionism is a key cause of test anxiety. No student knows all of the answers to every test. No matter how much you have studied, there are bound to be some test problems that will have you stuck for answers. This may not be due to a lack of study. In other words, it’s not your fault. All tests will have test problems beyond your power to control. Avoid practicing perfectionism. Feeling guilty or panic-stricken because of perfectionism is within your power to control. When the test is passed out, take the time to “self-talk.” An internal dialogue such as “I’ve prepared the best that I can for now. I will not get some answers correct. All I can do now is to try my best.”

Second, re-label your emotions. Just labeling your fears of test-taking as “test anxiety” produces a negative personal response. Try re-labeling your condition as “test excitement.” This is not just a psychological manipulation or a con. Anxiety and excitement produce quite similar physiological responses: increased heart rate, increased perspiration, etc. However, the former is certainly perceived as negative, while the latter is seen as positive. Choose the positive over the negative. Add “I am excited about the challenge of taking this test” to your pre-test self-talk ritual.

Finally, let’s get into some practical “nuts and bolts” to reduce test anxiety. Many test-takers do not have an accurate concept of time.

  • Poor time management is a key contributor to test anxiety. SAT® test-takers complain more about time and pacing issues than about the content of the exam. An enlightening experiment is to close your eyes after setting the oven timer to five minutes. Practice gauging the amount of time, without counting, until you get close to the five minutes. It does no good to keep track of how much time to allot to each section of a test, unless you have a good grasp of time. Time recognition is a skill to be learned. It improves with practice.
  • Learn how to quickly mark bubble-in answers accurately. Spend no more than two seconds filling in any answer. Perfectionists waste valuable time on this activity. Your shaded answers don’t have to be overly dark or works of perfect art. If the test allows you to write on the test booklet itself, such as on the SAT®, ACT® , MCAT®, or LSAT®, write your answer responses on the test and transfer these answers at the end of a test sub-section by groups. This technique improves accuracy and saves time.
  • While reading the answer responses, look for the wrong answers first, not the right ones. This is called using the process of elimination and it builds test-taker confidence and reduces test anxiety. It is easier to make a decision between fewer choices than many. Slash through the wrong answers to reveal possibly correct answer choices. If writing on the test is not allowed, use your fingers to point to incorrect answer responses to more visually isolate the correct answer response.
  • Skip and return only to the test problems that you are sure that further reflection may really improve your chance of helping you select the correct answer choice. Minimize the amount of skipped test problems. Do not review any marked answers. Those who report feeling test anxiety have a much greater likelihood of changing answer choices to wrong choices upon review.
  • Make sure to guess and never perceive guessing as a failure. Many students fail to take advantage of guessing on multiple choice tests because they feel that it won’t affect their grade much. Wrong! Strategic guessing really can improve your overall grade. On a 100 problem test, if you leave ten answers blank because you don’t know the correct answers, you have probably lowered your grade by one-half by failing to guess. Guessing odds are much better with each wrong answer eliminated.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The 56 lessonsin Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Improve Your Vocabulary

Memorizing the definitions of the most common Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes will exponentially expand your reading vocabulary. Academic reading, especially in the social sciences and natural sciences are filled with words with Greek and Latin word parts. Knowing even one word part of an unknown word greatly enhances the reader’s ability to accurately and efficiently use surrounding context clues to figure out the meanings of these words. You will also increase your spoken and written proficiency by using Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes. But, outside of becoming fluent in Greek and Latin, which Greek and Latin word parts have the highest frequency?

Most Commonly-Used Prefixes

This list, compiled by White, Sowell, and Yanagihara (The Reading Teacher, 42, p. 306), has the twenty most frequently-used prefixes. In fact these largely Greek and Latin prefixes make up 97% of all prefixed words. Prefixes listed are in frequency order.

  1. un-not
  2. re-again
  3. in, im, il, ir-not
  4. dis-away from
  5. en, em-in
  6. non-not
  7. in, im-in
  8. over-above
  9. mis-not
  10. sub-under
  11. pre-before
  12. inter-between
  13. fore-in front
  14. de-apart from
  15. trans-across
  16. super-above
  17. semi-half
  18. anti-against
  19. mid-middle
  20. under-too little

Frequently-Used Greek and Latin Roots

Following are the roots, meanings, origins, and example words. The roots are not in order of frequency.

  1. struct-build, form-Latin-instruct
  2. aud-hear-Latin-auditorium
  3. mis-send-Latin-mission
  4. astro-star-Greek-astrology
  5. ped-foot-Latin-pedal
  6. bio-life-Greek-biology
  7. phon-sound-Greek-telephone
  8. dict-say-Latin-predict
  9. port-carry-Latin-import
  10. geo-earth-Greek-geography
  11. scrib-write-Latin-scribble
  12. meter-measure-Greek-thermometer
  13. scrip-write-Latin-scripture
  14. min-little-small-Latin-minimum
  15. spect-see-Latin-inspect
  16. mit-send-Latin-transmit

Adapted from Stahl, S.A. and Shiel, T.G., Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Disabilities, 8, 223-241

Fifteen Power Greek and Latin Words

These fifteen words have prefixes or roots that are part of over 15,000 words. That is as many words as most student dictionaries! Memorize these words and the meanings of their prefixes and roots and you have significantly improved your vocabulary.

  1. inaudible (not, hear)
  2. dismiss (away from, send)
  3. transport (across, carry)
  4. unsubscribe (not, under, write)
  5. predict (before, say)
  6. remit (again, send)
  7. encounter (in, against)
  8. offer(against, carry)
  9. inspect (in, see)
  10. epilogue (upon, word)
  11. antigen (against, people)
  12. empathy (in, feeling)
  13. intermediate (between, middle)
  14. destruction(apart from, build)
  15. superimpose (over, in, put)

Pennington 2016


Here are FREE samples of vocabulary worksheets from this comprehensive program–ready to teach in your class today. Each resource includes directions, four grade-specific vocabulary worksheets, worksheet answers, vocabulary study cards, and a short unit test with answers.

Get the Grade 4 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 5 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 6 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 7 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 8 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

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Eye Movement and Speed Reading

Training Eye Movement

Reading Eye Movement

Your eye movements in reading should have the same kind of automatic response as driving a car or word processing an e-mail. Training students to read faster helps build this automaticity by reducing line fixations and the amount of time spent on each fixation.

So, how do our eye movements affect our reading ability?  Most people would probably say that their eyes follow the print, left to right, at a consistent rate across the page.  However, this is far from the truth.  Using sophisticated cameras and computer analysis, scientists have found that our eyes fixate on several places in the line in a rather herky-jerky motion.

In fact, when our eyes move, they aren’t even looking at the words, but are just moving from one fixation to the next.  Eye movement accounts for only about one-tenth of the time spent on each line of reading text.  In other words, reading consists of a series of individual glances at each line of text and the corresponding meaning-making of each glance.

The greater the number of fixations per line and the more time it takes to make sense of each fixation, the slower the meaning-making will be.  Better readers have less fixations per line and rapid processing of each word.  This is what Marilyn Adams (1995) refers to as “automaticity” and is the necessary prerequisite for reading well.  This automatic processing develops as the reader becomes able to quickly and effectively apply the semantic, graphophonic, and syntactic cueing systems to the text.

Of course, the number of fixations per line and the duration of each fixation should depend on the degree of reading difficulty.  Reading unfamiliar material or subject-specific vocabulary requires slower processing.  Also, the purpose of the reader should determine reading speed.  Reading a biology text for a test is quite different from reading a Goosebumps mystery for fun.  The problem is that poor readers tend to read everything in the same way, that is with too many fixations and taking too much time to process the words.

Specific speed reading techniques have been developed to vary the reading rate according to the degree of text difficulty.  Speed reading will also help call attention to, and even break, many poor reading habits.  Effective speed reading will also maintain or improve reading comprehension as students increase their silent fluency rates.

FREE DOWNLOAD TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

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How to Learn SAT® Vocabulary

SAT-takers generally find the critical reading sections challenging because both the sentence completion and passage-based reading sections are so vocabulary dependent. You may not have a huge academic vocabulary, but some concentrated study and knowing the following strategies can make a significant difference in your scores on the critical reading and multiple-choice writing sections.

Sentence Completion Strategies

Vocabulary recognition is critically important for both the Passage-based Reading and Sentence Completion Questions found in the Critical Reading section. The publisher of the SAT claims that these subtests measure “verbal reasoning abilities.” Hogwash! Much of the Sentence Completions and even the Passage-based Reading subsections only measure vocabulary. Not only do these subsections simply measure vocabulary; they also frequently test this vocabulary out of context. In other words, much of the SAT vocabulary is either already known or not known.

Some SAT preparation workbooks and classes (or perhaps a friendly English teacher you might know) will suggest that you memorize huge SAT vocabulary lists of hundreds of words. This approach runs contrary to both good reading research and just plain common sense. The publisher has a word bank of over 30,000 words. Even if you retained the meanings of every single word on a twenty-word weekly vocabulary test, you would only have learned 600 or so words by the end of one school year. Chances are that you would forget many of these anyway. Time invested in memorizing huge vocabulary lists would be better spent reading a good book.

In fact, for long term SAT vocabulary acquisition, reading is the best way to grow a huge vocabulary. As you read books at your reading level (word recognition of 95%), you will learn many of those unknown 5% words though effective use of context clues. Keep track of these words on a daily basis on 3 x 5 cards or on your computer, and you will be well on your way to developing the kind of SAT vocabulary that will score you the points you need.

But, for those of you non-readers who are taking the SAT in a few short weeks, there is still hope to improve your score on both the Critical Reading and Writing sections. Fortunately, the multiple-choice design of the SAT requires vocabulary only word recognition, rather than vocabulary word knowledge. For example, you may not be able to define, or even give an example of an “octogenarian.” However, you might be able to recognize that the “oct” part of the word means “eight” because you have prior knowledge that an “octopus” has eight tentacles.

Two effective short cuts toward better recognizing SAT vocabulary include these two strategies:

  1. learning the most common Greek and Latin affixes/roots and
  2. learning how to figure out the clues to meaning of unknown words through context clues.

Both of these strategies will help your short-term goal of dealing with the SAT vocabulary. The web provides wonderful resources for frequently-used word parts to print into SAT vocabulary study game cards and context clue exercises designed for SAT-takers.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

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How to Answer the SAT® Sentence Completion Test Problems

SAT-takers generally think that the SAT sentence completion sections are relatively easy, but many students can be shocked to find out that these sections actually lower overall critical reading scores more than the passage-based sections. Using the TK PMC strategies, along with solid SAT objective test-taking strategies, will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the sentence completion test problems in the critical reading section.

SENTENCE COMPLETION STRATEGIES

1. Read the sentence, paying special attention to the TONE of the sentence. The sentence may have a positive or a negative tone and the answer choice must match that tone.

Examples: The happy and _____________ young woman left without complaint.

Feeling _____________ and angry, the teacher rejected his proposal.

2. While reading the SAT sentence completions, circle any KEY words that may affect the meaning of the sentence.

AMOUNT WORDS

always, all, necessarily, never, none, partially, completely, more than, less than, fewer, best, worse, half, most, almost, completely, minimally

CAUSE-EFFECT WORDS

as a result, because, consequently, hence, if, in order to, so, then, therefore

SYNONYM WORDS

also, and, another, besides, for example, furthermore, in addition, in other words, moreover

ANTONYM WORDS

but, if, nor, although, nevertheless, despite, even though, in contrast, however, in spite of, instead, on the contrary, on the other hand, rather, still, yet, conversely

3. Read the SAT sentence completions sentence again and PREDICT the word in the blank, using the tone, key words, and surrounding context clues (PS SALE) to inform your prediction. If you can’t think of an answer choice, just say “blank.”

4. Now read the answer choices, and MATCH each of these to your predicted word. Use the process of elimination to remove any answers from consideration that do not match your predicted word.

5. CHECK your answer choice by mouthing the sentence with your answer choice. If it doesn’t “sound” right, consider another choice.

Some additional hints…

Complete the SAT sentence completions first in each Critical Reading section.

For SAT sentence completions with two blank words, follow the TK PMC strategy for only the first blank word. Then read the sentence one more time, predicting the second word and matching that word to the remaining possible answer choices. Finally, make sure to check both answer choices by mouthing the words in the sentence.

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The 56 lessonsin Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses. 128 pages

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How to Answer the SAT® Passage-Based Reading Test Problems

The SAT Passage-based reading sections can produce time management challenges and difficulties for SAT-takers. Many students score poorly on these sections; however, using the IQ  KGS  PR CGS strategies and the general SAT test-taking strategies will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the passage-based critical reading section.

The publisher attempts to use unfamiliar subjects for its reading passages to compensate for outside knowledge and experience, but what you bring to the text in the way of experience and knowledge remains just as important as what they select for the readings.  So if you know the answer apart from the SAT reading, trust your own knowledge and answer accordingly.  The SAT reading cannot contradict facts. For medium-length, long, and paired SAT reading passages…

1. Read the short INTRODUCTION to the SAT reading passage first, reflecting on any prior knowledge or reading that relates to the subject. The introduction is printed in italics. Try to determine if the passage is expository or narrative from reading the introduction.

2. Read the QUESTION stems that follow the SAT reading passage twice. Previewing the question stems enhances comprehension and begins to access your outside knowledge before you begin to read. While reading the question stem the first time, circle the following KEY words:

  • “according to the author (passage)” Make sure to answer from this point of view.
  • “main idea” This is the most important thought of the passage.
  • “best” Another answer may be acceptable, but this one most closely fits.
  • “mainly” Not completely, but most importantly.
  • “chiefly” Compared to the others, this is above the rest.
  • “except” This identifies something that does not belong with the rest.
  • “some” Not all.
  • “implies (suggests)” The author has hinted at, but not directly stated.
  • “only” This means exclusively that one and no other.
  • “primarily” This means mainly or the chief one, before all others.
  • “most likely” A logical prediction or conclusion.
  • “similar” Asks for a comparison.
  • “differs” Asks for a contrast.
  • “most nearly means” Asks for the definition in context.
  • “assertions” Points to be made.
  • “most directly” Most specifically.
  • “imagery” A mental picture or image.
  • “tone” The manner in which something is said.
  • “organization” How the passage is structured.
  • “developed” How the thesis is proven throughout the passage.

3. Read the question stem a second time and mark each with a “G” if it is a GENERAL question and “S” if it is a SPECIFIC question. A general question stem is one that can be answered without looking back in the passage for specific details. “Best title,” or “the main idea,” or “the tone of the passage” are examples of general question stems on the SAT reading section. Sometimes they will have reading passage line numbers as reference; other times they will not. A specific question stem is one that cannot be answered unless you look back for the details in the passage. The specific question stem will always have a line number as reference.

If the passage is expository or persuasive:

4. PREVIEW the passage by reading the last sentence of the first paragraph. The thesis statement is found here in about 50% of all expository reading. Then read the first sentence in each body paragraph. The topic sentence is found her in about 80% of all expository reading.

5. READ the passage, carrying on a dialogue with the text. Focus on finding the sections that deal with the question stems that you have already read. Mark a CHECK by any answers to questions that you remember from reading the question stems.

If the passage is narrative:

4. PREVIEW the passage by reading the first and last sentence in the SAT reading sections. Frequently, the most important clues to the meaning of a short narrative passage are in these positions.

5. READ the passage, carrying on a dialogue with the text. Focus on finding the sections that deal with the question stems that you have already read. Mark a CHECK by any answers to questions that you remember from reading the question stems.

6. Answer the GENERAL question stems (those marked “G”) first. Guess on any general question stems of which you are not sure. Do not return to the general test problems for re-consideration. Then, go back and answer the SPECIFIC question stems. Take the time to hunt and peck throughout the passage, using the line number references, to find the right answers, if needed.

Some additional hints…

The Passage-based SAT reading test problems are a bit different than the Sentence Completion test problems. The Passage-based test problems are mixed up in terms of order of difficulty. They do not go from easy to hard. On the paired passages, some question stems relate to both passages.

The tone of an ethnically related passage is always positive, so the correct answer choices should reflect this focus.

The SAT reading sections always refers to doctors, lawyers, artists, writers, scientists, and educators with respect. Keep this in mind when selecting answer choices.

For paired passages, complete the test problems for the first passage before reading the second passage. Mark a “1” after the “G” or “S” after reading the question stem the second time.

The answer to a test problem that has a line reference number will often not be in the specific line cited. Many times the answer is found up or down a few lines from the line reference.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

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