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Critical Reading Strategies?

fortytoofortytoo Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited December 2012 in SAT Preparation
Critical reading has always been a score killer for me. I'm okay with the sentence completions, but I seem to struggle when it comes to reading the passages. I've heard of several techniques, and they all seem to contradict each other. Am I supposed to read the passage first? Read the questions first? Not read the passage at all?
Post edited by fortytoo on

Replies to: Critical Reading Strategies?

  • crazybanditcrazybandit Registered User Posts: 1,735 Senior Member
    It's your call. Use skill. Obviously for some questions you don't have to read the entire passage and for (a few) others you do.
  • 112358112358 Registered User Posts: 1,944 Senior Member
    Try as many methods as you can and figure out what works best for you.
  • jamesfordjamesford Registered User Posts: 3,447 Senior Member
    I skim the passages and spend more time on the questions. Read the questions carefully and ALWAYS read all of the choices (that hurt me on a practice section I did today...lazy me).
  • KRNproKRNpro Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    I got an 800CR, but I'm not sure if my method will work for you.

    I read the passages - super carefully and thoughtfully. This takes a substantial portion of my time, but once I finish the questions are very easy. If I find myself not fully understanding the passage, I go back and read it again. The time spend understanding the material is well spend, if read carefully you won't spend much time at all on the questions
  • fortytoofortytoo Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thanks, KRNpro. That was always my method, but I have been told many times that it's not time-efficient.
  • KRNproKRNpro Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    The best strategy for you would be learning how to read quickly, carefully, and thoughtfully. I've been reading this way my entire life, so it comes natural on the SAT. I usually have roughly ten minutes after finishing a reading section.

    If you are not reading both quickly and carefully, I would time how long you take to finish a CR section while reading carefully and thoughtfully. If you are doing it in the alloted time, great, you can simply take a lot of CR sections to boost your score [getting familiar with the types of questions and such]. If you cannot do it in the time alloted, start PUSHING yourself through each passage. Focus with all your might.. in other words haha
  • xxrunningonemptyxxrunningonempty Registered User Posts: 2,158 Senior Member
    I would suggest reading the passage as a whole and most people who score high on the SAT CR portion have suggested the same. You need to get the overall central idea/structure/author's purpose for writing and there are no shortcuts. Another strategy I heard often is answering questions (since they are chronically ordered in appearance in the actual test) after reading a WHOLE (not half) paragraph and answering the question(s) related to it.
  • 112358112358 Registered User Posts: 1,944 Senior Member
    I second the paragraph method -- nice balance between reading the whole thing and stopping at every line reference.
  • 50freefly50freefly Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    Usually I skim the passage as a whole (VERY quickly), go to the questions, skip the main idea questions, and read the passage again very thoroughly as the questions direct me, then come back and answer the main idea questions.

    I'm a pretty slow reader when it comes to novels but this method usually leaves me 5 or 10 minutes to spare.

    I got an 800 on CR, if it helps verify my method. I don't know if it'd work for everyone but it's what came naturally to me (I think, to be completely honest I can't remember exactly what I did, i may have just read the passage as the questions went along, but I think what I described is how it went).
  • princeton1996princeton1996 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    1. Read the blurb.
    2. Just look over the passage. "feel it out" so to speak.
    3. Start reading with as much interest as possible.
    4. When you feel yourself zoning out, stop and do as many questions as possible.
    5. Start reading again.

    Also, after picking an answer always ask yourself why your answer choice is correct. If you can answer confidently with proof from the passage I think you're safe.

    Hope this helps :)
  • princeton1996princeton1996 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    you could also mark the line references from the questions before starting to read.
This discussion has been closed.