SAT CRITICAL READING
INTRODUCING THE SAT: CRITICAL READING SKILLS
During the Test
Center on the Test
Focus on the question in front of you. At this moment, it’s all that matters. Answer it and fill in your answer choice, being careful you’re filling in the right space. Then move on to the next question, and the next. Find your steady, even testing rhythm and keep it going.
BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS
When Tiger Woods plays golf, he has his mind on one thing: the game, not the movements of the enthusiastic crowd, not the occasional plane flying overhead, not the applause of the spectators, not even the photographers in the gallery. He blocks them out.
The SAT is your game. To play it well, block out the distractions. Don’t start looking around at the other students taking the test. You don’t get any points for watching other people answer questions. You get points only for answering questions yourself. Keep your eye on the test booklet and your mind on the game.
WHEN THINGS GET TIGHT, STAY LOOSE
Sooner or later, as you go through the test, you’re going to hit a tough spot. You may run into a paragraph that seems totally unintelligible, or a couple of hard questions that throw you, so that you stop thinking about the question you’re working on and sit there panicking instead.
If you come to a group of questions that stump you, relax. There are bound to be a few brain-benders on a test of this nature. Remember: You don’t have to answer every question correctly to do just fine on the test.
There will be a break about halfway through the test. Use this period to clear your thoughts. Take a few deep breaths. Stretch. Close your eyes and imagine yourself floating. In addition to being under mental pressure, you’re under physical pressure from sitting so long in a hard seat with a No. 2 pencil clutched in your hand. Anything you can do to loosen up and get the kinks out will ease your body and help the oxygen get to your brain.
KEEP A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
The best thing you can do for yourself during the test is to keep a positive frame of mind. Too many people walk into tests and interviews defeated before they start. Instead of feeling good about what they have going for them, they worry about what can go wrong instead. They let negative thoughts distract them and drag them down.
You are a motivated, hard-working student. That’s why you’ve chosen to work through this book. You’re exactly the sort of person for whom colleges are looking. For you, the SAT isn’t an unknown terror. It’s something you can handle, something for which you are prepared. It’s okay for you not to answer every question. It’s okay to get some questions wrong. You’ll do better figuring out the answers to the questions you tackle if you know you’re doing okay. Have confidence in yourself.
NOTE WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Whenever you cross out an answer you know is incorrect, whenever you skip a question so that you can come back to it later, notice that you’re doing the right thing. Whenever you catch yourself drifting off and quickly get back to work, whenever you stretch to get out the kinks, recognize how much you’re in control. In applying these tactics you’ve mastered, you’re showing you know how to do the job and do it right.
PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK
As you go through the test, each time you get a correct answer, pat yourself on the back. “Yes! Ten more points!” Enjoy your successes, and keep an eye out for more successes, more correct answer choices ahead. Feel good about the progress you’re making and the rewarding college years to come.