Importance of Reading for new sat and act

booksSo the standardized tests are dueling. Prompted in part by the ACT’s runaway success, the SAT is loudly overhauling its test structure. The ACT is also adjusting its format albeit more quietly. The new SAT and ACT will now be more aligned than they ever have been before, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it.


On the plus side, the tests should feel more similar to high school and college curriculums. Students no longer have to stuff their brains full of obscure SAT vocabulary words they will forget the moment they finish the test. Instead, the new SAT asks kids to understand words through context. It’s much more similar to the way in which vocabulary is introduced in college as well as the working world. Similarly, the tools kids need to succeed on the new ACT are now theoretically more closely linked to the tools kids need to succeed in college. The new ACT essay, for example, focuses more on world issues rather than the particular school debates of before. For both tests, the changes are designed to be more related and relatable to high school and college classrooms.

Unfortunately, as with any transitional period, the changes carry with them a certain amount of uncertainty—uncertainty and increased anxiety. How do you tame the uncertainty? How do you prepare for success? What do you even focus on first?


Bully for you! Because I have an opinion: If there is a singular skill needed to succeed on the standardized tests—as well as in college and at later jobs—it is the ability to read critically and comprehensively. How do you improve your writing? Reading. How do you improve your grammer? Reading. How do you improve your reading? Gummy bears. No, of course it’s reading. The most important thing, for both the SAT and the ACT, is reading. Reading is the cornerstone of the test, of the world, of modern society. It is the one thing that can enable mobility and success across fields. I cannot stress enough how incredibly valuable it is to be a strong reader.


Unfortunately, it requires a lot more time to see improvement with reading than with other sections of the standardized tests. There are techniques and strategies you can and should implement, but the most important piece by far is your practice. So read. Read all the time. Read early. Read late. Read on buses. Read in bed. Read in the shower… wait, don’t do that. I doubt your books, kindle or mother would appreciate it. But do make sure you read. And who knows? You may actually enjoy it.