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Want a high score on the ACT or SAT

Want a high score on the ACT or SAT? This is the MOST important thing you can do:

For all the emphasis the producers of test preparation books and courses place on their signature test-taking tricks, there is a basic truth that is under emphasized: The SAT and ACT really do a pretty good job of testing basic literacy! Yes, it can be very helpful to understand the nature of the test, but, there’s good news: in general, the main skills involved in performing well on the reading tests--understanding the structure of narratives and written arguments, figuring out the meanings of words from their context (and simply knowing the definitions of a lot of words), and so forth--are skills one acquires over many years of reading. So it’s time to pick up your favorite book!

A 2007 report by the National Endowment for the Arts ( linked a drop over time in reading test scores among high school students to a decline in the amount of time students spend reading for pleasure. So what does this mean? Make a habit of spending half an hour each day reading a book that interests you. This is more important than your homework (though you should do that, too!!!). You can read books on science, history, and politics, and long form articles in publications like The Economist or The Atlantic, or you can find some well-written fiction that you like. You don’t need to read Tolstoy or Fitzgerald for fun; ask a well-read person who knows you for suggestions, or ask a librarian! All this high-quality reading will be reflected in your test scores and enrich your life.

Happy reading!

-Isaac Friend

Isaac Friend is a SAT and ACT tutor with Tiger Tutor. He received a 2340 out of 2400 on the SAT. He is a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

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