My previous posts on literary terms have focused on two major uses of these special devices: understanding and approaching texts and, importantly, writing about them. Here we will emphasize one further purpose: locating meaning. Yes, that could mean anything! But in writing and reading literature, meaning is everything. Training your brain and eye to search for underlying meaning in what you read (and even what you experience in daily life) will teach you to be a better reader, writer, and observer of the world. How is this accomplished in texts? Read on to find out!
Although reading is an ability that seems to come naturally to many of us, the area of reading comprehension always seems to trip us up on the SAT. The passages, albeit not difficult in themselves, suddenly seem to become incredibly hard to decipher during the test. What is the author trying to say? How do I know the author is trying to convey this particular emotion? All of a sudden, reading, or at least critical reading, no longer seems like a walk in the park. You might have realized that critical reading requires a certain way of thinking that is usually unfamiliar to many of us. But fret not, because this unfamiliarity can be overcome with practice!
(Picture source: Sacredheart.org)
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We have gone through multiple tips to help you to pick the right answer and avoid the wrong ones. Yet, there may come some points in the test when you just can’t figure out the right answer, even with all the tricks that you’ve learnt! Well, do not despair. This trick is perhaps the most important one and can be used in conjunction with the rest of the other tips you have learnt! Do not panic if you cannot figure out right away which is the right answer and which are the wrong answers – this happens to everyone at some point. Stay calm and think through what you can do.
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There are so many tips to help you pick out the right answer from the wrong ones during the SAT. Yet, of course, practice is vitally important to make sure that the lessons learnt from these tips stick! Believe it or not, the SAT reading and writing sections are not indomitable – in fact, with careful reading and understanding of the SAT itself and how the test makers think, you can avoid some of the traps that they set!
This point cannot be emphasized enough. The SAT does not simply test your ability to find pieces of information in a passage, but rather your ability to take it to the next step and understand those pieces of information — the tone, the underlying message, and the language to determine now just what the text is saying, but also how the text is saying it. In part 4 of our series on identifying the right answer from the wrong ones, here are more tips and tricks that you can use on the SAT!
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This is Part 3 of “How to Separate the Good from the Bad”! In the past two weeks, we’ve seen how there are many subtle tricks and tips that can help one eliminate the wrong answers and increase her chances of picking the right answer! This week’s section focuses on how to avoid the wrong answers.
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As with any test, the task of separating the good answer from the bad choices is a difficult one. Often, all of the possible answer choices look so similar and more than one seem to be the right choice! Well, this says something similar, but it has an additional part. Is this too extreme of an answer? Hmm I’m not sure whether this is the right answer, but somehow it just feels right… These thoughts have raced through my mind during each SAT test, practice or not, and even today, while taking tests for my classes. But alas, test-taking is simple in that each question is formulated with only one correct answer – or in the SAT’s case, one best answer. Here are some tips and tricks to help you figure out how to separate the good answer from the bad answers in the SAT!
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During the SAT, each section is only given about 20 to 25 minutes. Reading fast is thus a definite advantage. How much more of the text could you read and absorb to answer each question in that one minute? A friend once told me, “I always ran out of time on the SAT practice tests. I would worry about understanding everything before tackling the questions, especially in the reading comprehension section. As a result, I didn’t have enough time to really think through and answer the questions as well I could have if I had had more time.” In the reading comprehension section especially, one key skill would be to speed read.
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Oh man…my SAT is in a month’s time and I haven’t started preparing for it. In addition to my normal school work, extracurricular and the hundred other things I have to do, how am I supposed to even start preparing for perhaps one of the most important tests in my life? Unsurprisingly, with most of the SAT dates during the school term, albeit during a Saturday, many students see the SAT as another enormous challenge placed smack center amidst all the other commitments they already have. Many of these high school students are already barely sleeping 6 hours and are stressed out from trying to achieve high exam scores/class rankings.
Preparing for the SAT thus seems like an additional insurmountable challenge, where you face off thousands of students from all over the country who will contribute to your eventual score and ranking. Sometimes, the seeming difficulty of the SAT causes students to put off preparing for it till much later because “it just seems too hard and tiring to start right now”. Yet, taking a daily approach for the SAT is probably the best thing you can do to prepare for it!
- Make it a point not to take days off! This is the first most important thing you have to take note of! Even if you only have 10 minutes on the bus or right before you fall asleep, study 10 new vocabulary words everyday and that tiny bit of work every single day will add up to a great deal in the long run.
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Wait, what??? 10 multiplied by 0 isn’t 10… 0! Grrr, and the value 8 wasn’t the radius but the diameter. How did I forget to divide it by 2 before using it in my calculations?? I could have improved my score by so much if I hadn’t made those mistakes… Have you ever been careless on a test? I know I have. If you have too, this post is definitely for you.
“Carelessness” is a condition that people have faced multiple times during test taking and has become a term commonly bandied about. I have often heard friends, and even myself, often say, “if only I had been less careless, I would have gotten a much higher score”. Moreover, the SAT is one test in which being careless and getting a question wrong will penalize the test-taker and cause points to be deducted from your score. Well, being more vigilant is not an unachievable dream. In fact, with a few crucial strategies and test-taking habits, we can all be a lot less careless.
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In search of a good book that is not about vampires or unrealistic teen romances? I’ve got you covered. Not only will these five good reads be precisely that (good reads), but they will also contribute significantly to whatever it is you are studying in English class, by virtue of their complex character development, plots, use of allegory, and general good writing.
[Continue reading about good reads!]