Students may be familiar with reading in school and at home, but SSAT reading comprehension requires a completely different set of skills.  There are a variety of SSAT reading comprehension strategies that can help students approach the reading comprehension section in a more effective way that may differ from casual reading at home. Here are a few tips on how to tackle the reading comprehension section that will be sure to raise your child’s score.

Tip #1: Read for the main idea

Most reading passages will include a question asking about the main idea of the reading selection.  As students read each passage, their initial goal should be to identify the main idea.  Therefore, when they approach the questions, they will be able to easily answer the main idea question and spend more time on the other questions. When reading, students do not need to focus on or memorize any minor details, as they will be able to refer back to the passage at any time.

Tip #2: Don’t get stuck on words/sentences

Students will not get points for just reading the passage.  The only way to earn points on the SSAT is by answering the questions correctly.  Therefore, students should spend more time answering the questions than reading the passage.  In order to get through the passage quickly, ensure that students do not get stuck on words or sentences that they don’t understand.  Instead, they should skip it and move on. There’s a chance the questions may not focus on that sentence anyway.  Remember, students should be looking for the main idea when they read the passage.

Tip #3: Don’t attempt to memorize any information


Reading on the SSAT differs from casual reading in school because students are not expected to memorize what they read.  The passage is always available for students to refer back to when answering the questions.  Therefore, as they read the passage, they should skim for the main idea instead of trying to learn the information.  In addition, when answering the multiple choice questions, students should always refer back to the passage to find the answer and not rely on their memory.  The answer needs to be stated in the passage.

Tip #4: Skip questions you don’t understand


Since there is a ¼ point penalty for each incorrect answer on the exam, it is a very important SSAT reading comprehension strategy to know which questions to skip and which to answer or take a guess on. If students do not understand the question at all and cannot eliminate any answer choices, they should skip the question and leave it blank.  If they have time at the end of the session, they can go back and spend more time on the questions they skipped. However, if they are able to eliminate at least 1 or 2 answer choices, they should take a guess rather than leaving it blank.

By following these SSAT reading comprehension strategies, students will be able to approach the reading comprehension section in an effective way that will result in an increase of their scores. 

For more information and to register for the SSAT you may visit the official SSAT website.

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