The Dividends of SAT Verbal Preparation - Critical Reading

Posted by The Writing Wizard on 2/8/13 11:05 AM

critical reading preparationCritical Reading Leads to be Better Blood Flow in the Brain…..

A recent Stanford MRI study has confirmed what many of our literary forbears and many a current teacher & tutor have always known sans a fancy neuroscience machine: Reading critically and actively expands how one thinks. Maybe then it is no surprise that the Stanford study was an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Humanities, Neurobiology and Radiology departments.  In this study, Ph.D. students were asked to read the Jane Austen novel, ‘Mansfield Park,’ while in an MRI machine.  They were asked in some activities to read in a leisurely manner and in others a more active and focused manner.  During this activity the MRI found that there was increased blood flow in the regions beyond those typically associated with reading activity. 


Learning to be a Critical Reader Pays Dividends in All Forms of Learning

As a long time test prep tutor, lecturer and trainer of many subjects and tests, I find this confirmation of what I have suspected to be true really exciting. 

One of the biggest things I stress to students tackling reading comprehension passages is to view their preparation like honing in different aspects of their brain (working memory, attention, focus, language, visual, etc.,) to learn to work together.  Essentially, I believe the ability to read critically and well pay dividends in all areas of learning.

Reading Well

What do I mean by reading well?  I mean the ability to engage enough with a text that you could after reading every couple of paragraphs provide a contextual signpost for another person who has not read the text.  I like to call it a mini-Twitter feed when working on reading skills with my test preparation students.  By reading in this active manner, an individual is not only less distracted but is also more engaged in the material at hand.  Actively summarizing engages language areas in the brain and also activates visual centers and working memory. 

Moral of the Story

If you want to help hone and condition your brain the way you would your body, embrace and learn how to be a critical reader.  Think of test preparation as the perfect opportunity to not only get you into college, but as the end itself, i.e., a well functioning brain.



Tags: study skills, SAT, PSAT