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The (Test Prep) Skill No One is Talking About



I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t read for pleasure until I was close to 30 years old. My focus was always on reading to learn something for a class (which isn’t a bad thing), or to write a paper but not for pure enjoyment. My after-school activities kept me so busy that I didn’t have time to slow down and read. Sound familiar? Over the past 23 years working as a college consultant, I have learned that reading for fun opens the mind to curiosity and imagination, and it helps when writing college essays, taking standardized tests, and so much more! Listen to this little guy about his experience with reading. Need I say more?


Take a look at an ACT test, for example. Every section includes reading of some kind. Even the math section includes reading a short passage before solving the problem hidden within the text. Reading is essential to daily life when you think about it. Practically everything we do requires reading. 


Years ago, I offered test prep along with college consulting. When families would come to me a few weeks before a standardized test and ask for help, there wasn’t much I could do. I had a few simple tips to offer but the one thing I would share with them is to start reading. While that wouldn’t help much in the short term, the long-term benefits would outweigh the short-term. So, my tip for students now is to find a genre of book they enjoy and READ! During summer vacation, read! When you’re waiting at the bus stop, read. When you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, read. And now we have no excuse about not having a book with us because everything is on our phones! We also have the option for e-books through places like Libby and Audible. (Although, I do love the feeling of holding a paper book in my hands.)


Recently, I read an online post in a counselor forum from a test prep tutor who was talking about the importance of reading. Her tip for students was to read a variety of materials on different topics. Her reading recommendations that she believed helped improve scores on the reading sections of the ACT and SAT included periodicals such as: The Economist, the Sunday newspaper,  The Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times. I’m not going to claim that all of these will improve test scores but if nothing else, it will (hopefully) open students’ eyes to the world around them which never hurt anyone. I personally believe that reading regularly, as well as for fun, improves reading comprehension, vocabulary, the speed at which one reads, and cracks the imagination wide open.


While my followers are mostly families with middle school and high school students, this is a skill that can be practiced with early learners too. For those of you who have younger children, start reading aloud to them and watch their love for reading grow over time. While this article here is focused more on educators, I believe it provides helpful tips that can be applied to all children. 

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