Increasing Critical Reading section score form 500 to 600 or 700

Currently i am scoring aroung 500-520 in the the critical reading section.I want to improve my score by 100-150 atleast.Please suggest me what should i do.I am only solving the paper from blue book and checking my mistakes at this time.Have done aroung 4-5 papers.Should i do anything else.?

I’m not a CR expert (only scored in the low 600s) but here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don't simply do lots of sections and check correct/incorrect answers. Figure out why you got them wrong (or right). Did you not pick up on the author's points or claims? Did you miss a tiny detail that gives the answer?
  2. You can either read through the passage, then answer the questions, or look at the questions first, then read to look for the answers. In either case, do not get distracted. I find myself having to reread stuff whenever I have a small lapse in concentration, and that can cost lots of time.
  3. For vocab, it's a fairly long-term process (no one's going to memorize 200 words the night before), so start early.

If you score 500-520, then you’re giving away a ton of points on vocab and a month or two of hard vocab memorization could pretty reliably get you into the mid/high 600s. I recommend about 100 words a day for a while, with constant review, then slow down and focus solely on review the week or so before the exam. This is the sort of gain I see dozens and dozens of kids achieve every year, and it’s very possible; it just takes lots of boring, rote memorization.

Note that I’m not at all saying this is the only way–it’s just the fastest, most reliable way in my experience.

Hi! I used to score 45 on the PSAT and got 700 on the actual thing. Here’s what REALLY helps. (specially if you’re an international)

  1. I agree with @marvin100. Vocab is VERY important; you have to give this a lot of time. Studying lots of vocab at your current level will take you to a 600. (I got this grade on my first SAT.. when I studied lots of vocab, but I also analyzed some sections.)
  2. Anyway, the time vocab takes you should NOT exceed the time you practice with sections. Get QAS tests and do a section a day WITHOUT TIMING YOURSELF. (this is a crazy tip and I might get criticized, but from someone who used to score so low, this tip is gold. When you're under time pressure, you do not get the chance to think well, so do not time yourself. Take all the time you need and do your best on every section. Your time will get better with practice.)
  3. When revising the section, highlight every single vocab you did not know and memorize them all. (That's mostly how I studied for vocab, but I also used Direct hits 1 and 2 for revision). I'd advise you to study vocab this way because it does not only help you memorize meanings, but it also shows you the vocab in context, unlike flashcards. Flashcards are better tools for revision. As for the passage questions - try to read the passages again, but this time summarizing each paragraph in a phrase or a sentence. Try to note how the passage is constructed too - is it a claim presented, followed by supporting details, for instance? Based on this analysis, understand why EACH choice is wrong and why the correct one is correct. This might take a lot of time, but that's very important!
  4. I highly recommend you read at least the "finding the main idea" chapter of Erica Meltzer's book. It will change how you think of and approach critical reading sections.
  5. Try approaching the passage differently each time (i.e. once start with the questions and mark them on the passage then read, the second time answer and read at the same time, and the third time read it all first then answer.) You have to find the approach you did best utilizing it and practice with that approach. Do not be afraid to change your approach later, no matter what. (I was, and I'm telling you don't be afraid to do that because you would miss out!) I had an approach for a 600, and a completely different one for a 700.

Do this everyday or every 2 days. Do not leave critical reading abandoned for more than three days. It’s a bad idea.

A few cliche, yet important tips.

  1. Know you can do it. I started out with a score lower than yours and I did it. This means you can do it or even better than I did!!
  2. The test day. Sleep well. I didn't sleep at all (too nervous) once and I got a 560 after all this studying - but when I slept, I got 700. PLEASE SLEEP WELL.
  3. When you do critical reading sections, think "I don't care" and solve as if you're passing time, very calmly. But not to the extent of just filling out any random answers to really pass time. Just solve as if you're at home and not worried at all. I did that too and I got a 700.

@MITer94 You are absolute rite.I already started doing the direct hits and will be finishing it in about 2-3.I also the norman lewis vocab book.If u have any other vocab book in mind,please tell me.

@marvin100 Yes I need to study much vocabs as english is not my native language.Thank you for your suggestion

@BethanyD Your suggestion is very good.The trick which you showed of not timing yourself is very effective.I didnt time myslef umtil i got 600 score in maths and then i did work for even after timing myself.I didnt try it for critical reading i will surely be trying and will tell you the result. :slight_smile: