Vocabulary isn’t as critical on the SAT/ACT anymore, but to improve reading comprehension and speed, I usually recommend kids do 2-3 of the items on this list for several months before the test:
- Read the New York Times (or other higher-level newspaper) once a week. You can get Sunday delivery or order digital access online. Students should highlight words they don’t know, look them up, then read it again, then explain the news to someone unfamiliar with the story. (This is a good activity for the dinner table a few times a week)
- Select books of interest to the student (nonfiction, cars, fiction, graphic novels, really any type) to get started.
Young adult book lists: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/best
Great nonfiction writers- Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Collins, Chip and Dan Heath, Susan Cain, Ezra Klein
Reading at least one each month will increase reading fluency and speed (very useful on timed tests!) Students can take a break from this step when they are reading a book for English class, but the aim should still be 10-15 books for the year preceding the SAT or ACT.
- Listen to audiobooks. Sometimes we don’t link listening with reading but hearing new words in context does increase vocabulary and comprehension.
- Test the student’s reading speed comprehension, and then compare after 1-2 months to encourage kids who see progress. (Select a theme, then test level 11 or 12)