Training for a reading assessment is no different than training for a race.
To win a race, serious athletes tweak their diets, adhere to a consistent exercise regimen, and abide by a strict sleep schedule - all to get in the zone and maximize their performance on the big day.
To read faster for a big test, you have to do the same: tweak your diet, exercise and get some sleep.
And just as runners balance sprints with distance runs during their workouts, you must to do the same with your reading routines. Intermingle short articles with longer articles or books to boost your vocabulary, speed, and endurance.
Athletes training for a big race also watch what they consume. They eat healthy foods with lots of nutrients. The same goes for training for a reading test. Pay attention to what you guzzle digitally. If you overload your brain with digital junk food, you'll miss out on the skills needed to read high-level text quickly and efficiently. Staying on a strict, digital diet will help you accurately interpret the tricky questions and answer choices designed to stump you on the test.
- Sprints - Read 400-500 words quickly and time yourself. Get a sense of what 8 minutes per passage feels like. It’s fast. Maybe you start off reading a passage and answering the questions in 12 minutes. Work on getting to 10 minutes and then 8 minutes.
- Distance - Read longer pieces like a book or long-form blogs. Distance reading, like distance running, helps with endurance. In reading you need cognitive endurance: stamina needed to stay actively engaged in a passage even when you want to tap out.
- Digital Diet - Substitute endless social media scrolling with articles from the Atlantic, New York Times or Wired. Pick an article that makes you stretch beyond your comfort zone a little. Even pick a topic you aren’t particularly interested in and try staying focused and interested while you read.
- Practice - Read 15-20 minutes a day, no matter what. Those minutes add up. You’ll be exposed to a variety of vocabulary, which will increase your comprehension of complex text.
- Mediate - Ask some of the best athletes, scholars and thinkers in the world if they meditate, and many of them will say, “YES.” Training your brain to slow down and reset is essential in expanding your knowledge. Try it. Sit for two minutes in the quiet. No phone. No TV. Just silence. Close your eyes and visualize your goal. You can manifest your dreams.
- Think Like a Test Maker: Step up your game and write a question or two about the passage or article you just read. Make it tricky and think about the answer choices.
Good grades and high test scores are just like running. You have to practice even when you don't want to. You've got to push through the wall when you're tired. You have to tap into your endurance to stay focused and keep trucking along.