A lot of parents ask me what they can do over the summer to help their children prepare for the critical reading section of the SAT.

From a parent of a rising junior:

Most tutors say that in order to improve critical reading (say 700+), you need to be a voracious reader. Well, that takes years. Forget about the sentence completion of the CR for the moment, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just do a bunch of critical reading passages, even if it they’re from non-CB material?

This is, if you are in a crunch and only have the summer to improve (i.e. 3 months).

Assume it takes 10 hours to read a book. I could do 20 CR test sections in that amount of time. 5 books = 100 CR test sections.

So, what is the best way to prepare for the Critical Reading section?

I would be wary of all unofficial SAT reading passages and use official, College Board material when it comes to “test prep.”

That said, there is a lot you can do this summer to bolster the foundation before you start official “test prep.”

To strengthen the foundation, it would be more effective to read articles from the New Yorker, The Economist, The New Republic or Smithsonian magazine. To be a strong reader, you need to have background knowledge and a strong vocabulary, which articles from these publications would provide.

Be sure to read the print editions as the online versions aren’t necessarily the same caliber.

Tip: Discussing the articles is essential. Conversations are the bedrock of memory.

Research shows that “joint conversation,” where the child takes part in the conversation, helps with memory, vocabulary, and awareness of grammar.

When children can make sense of what they are experiencing through conversation, they are able to understand key features better and encode more completely.

The SAT Yellow Brick Road

You can now sign up for a  series of tailored emails that will lead you step-by-step through the entire SAT process:

1) Parent Series

2) Student Series

Each series also includes links to SAT resources and articles that I highly recommend.