If I had a nickel for every time a student has complained during a tutoring session that, “Ugh….these readings are SO BORING…,” I would be a very rich woman.
Believe me; I get it. Who wants to read about black holes or Mark Twain at 8 am on a Saturday morning? I know the passages are “boring,” and I know students can’t help but tune out, get confused, and begin to re-read over and over again, losing precious time and absorbing nothing.
But, if you are thinking that the passages are boring, you are addressing the reading passages all wrong! Yes, they are reading passages, but I don’t want you to read!
Think of the readings as a DETECTIVE GAME. Games are fun! Your job is to WIN, and you win by being the first person to solve the mystery. How do you solve the mystery? Find the clues. By thinking of the readings as a game you will not get bogged down in the details, and it is the details that make a reading “boring.” Thinking like a detective ACTIVELY engages you in the reading process. You need to look for clues like thought-reversers (but, however, yet…), italics, rhetorical questions…anything that will help you get the main idea and tone of a passage. Literally imagine yourself holding a magnifying glass. Skim the passage super focused on finding the clues. Once you find the clues, put the clues together to get the main point of the passage. Then, and only then, do you go to the questions and look back to the passage, focusing now on the details in order to answer specific questions.
Whenever you ACTIVELY look for something (think “detective”), things tend to not be so boring, and it is a whole lot harder to zone out.
So…how to turn a BORING reading into an ENGAGING one? Make reading an active process by becoming a detective, thinking of the SAT as a game – you are out to win. Can you beat the clock by finding the main idea and tone of the passage in 2 minutes? Can you get the questions correct by going back to the readings and specifically focusing on the lines/paragraph that the question is asking about?
Yes, I too used to find the readings “boring,” but now I truly enjoy hunting for the clues and solving the mystery.
So, I end asking you, “Do you want to read/play to win or do you just want to be bored?”