Improve Your Test Scores by Reading

Did you know that reading is an excellent way to prepare for your SAT and ACT tests? Reading helps you develop the skills necessary for success. By reading you can:

  • Learn new vocabulary words
  • Build stamina to stay engaged for hours
  • Increase comprehension
  • Improve fluid intelligence

What should you read to gain these skills? I’m glad you asked.

Books That You Love: Read genres and nonfiction subjects that excite you, books that you stay up late to finish and stories that draw you into their worlds. Just the act of reading can improve your fluid intelligence (your ability to solve problems, think abstractly and recognize patterns). As you read, pay attention to the details the author gives — this will prepare you to answer questions about the reading passages.

Books Outside Your Normal: Train yourself to stay engaged during the text by exploring unfamiliar literary territory. Do you normally read fast-paced action/adventures or mysteries? Pick up a character-driven novel. Do you always read contemporary stories? Find a historical novel. Do you favor fiction? Try a nonfiction title. Ask a staff member for recommendations — we love talking about books.

Academic Journals: Use the library’s online resources (like Discus) to find scholarly articles, particularly on scientific and historical topics. Reading scholarly articles is different from reading nonfiction, in general. An article written by a political scientist, for example, will have a different frame, vocabulary and objective than an article on the same topic written by a popular figure. As you read, analyze the ideas presented and their real-world applications.
Ebooks: Check out books using the Overdrive’s Libby app. I’m not going to get into the debate of which is better print or ebooks — I like both. But when it comes to SAT/ACT test prep, reading with the Libby app (and other e-readers) has a definite advantage — a built-in dictionary. If you come across an unfamiliar word, you can highlight it and Libby will give you the definition. Also, you can customize the font, size and lighting of the text. 
Reading doesn’t just make you smarter. Several studies have shown that reading lowers stress levels. One study conducted by the University of Sussex discovered that it only takes six minutes of reading to slow heart rate and ease tension. That’s faster than drinking a cup of tea.
So, take a break from you practice questions; your brain needs you to read a book.
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