The Critical Reader Blog

I usually try to avoid clichés. Really, I do. I honestly don't recall whether I ever had a penchant for them, but any tendency toward employing them in my writing was thoroughly beaten out of my by my 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Gutmann (who unfortunately, it must be said, failed to make much of an impression on me otherwise). That said, there are times when nothing but a cliché sums up a particular idea just right, the title of this post being a prime example (I also happen to like the alliteration). It's a phrase I find myself uttering repeatedly when I tutor. It's important for people working at pretty much any score level, but it's especially relevant to those in the higher range -- assuming that you know how to do all, or nearly all, of the problems you'll encounter, the details might be the only thing standing…
NB: The original version of this sentence appeared in a LinkedIn job posting for a "professional work fellow." The answer is below. As a nonprofit educational measurement organization, ETS’s mission is to advance quality and equity in education for all people worldwide.  (A) ETS’s mission is to advance quality and equity in education for all people worldwide (B) ETS's mission being to advance quality and equity in education for all people worldwide (C) the mission of ETS is to advance quality and equity in education for all people worldwide (D) ETS having the mission of advancing quality and equity in education for all people worldwide (E) ETS has the mission of advancing of quality and equity in education for all people worldwide  I'm going to assume (and hope) that the people who wrote this job ad aren't the same people who write the SAT... By the way, what the heck is a professional work…
Here are some things to consider:  -Are you going back to the passage after you get down to those two answers? If so, are you looking for key transitions/punctuation marks/ explanations, etc. or are you just aimlessly rereading without a clear idea of what you're looking for?    -Do you ever start/stop reading halfway through a sentence? If so, make sure you back up to the beginning of the sentence or keep reading until the end; otherwise, you're likely to miss important info.    -Do you confine yourself to the lines you're given in the question, or do you read a little before/after as well? Or, conversely, do you read too far ahead and lose sight of the what the lines referenced actually say. Function questions often require information in the sentence or two before the line reference; other question types can usually answered from the lines given.    …
Intended to debunk the myth that ACT Reading Comprehension cannot be approached strategically, The Complete Guide to ACT Reading is the first independently-published book devoted entirely to the Reading Comprehension section of the ACT. Combining fundamentals of comprehension with test-taking strategy, the book includes:   extensive strategies for managing time throughout the Reading Comprehension section as a whole as well on each passage/question set. an in-depth explanation of skimming techniques -- learn to focus on the most important parts of a passage without getting lost in the details, and to locate key information more rapidly as you work through the questions. an overview of common passage topics and themes designed to teach you to "read the test" and identify correct and incorrect answers more accurately and efficiently. a complete chapter devoted to each major question type: literal comprehension, vocabulary-in-context, function/purpose, tone, inference, and point of view. examples from The Real Guide Guide to ACT, 3rd Ed. demonstrating how…
To anyone who purchased a copy of The Complete Guide to ACT English before 8/25/14:  p. 35 incorrectly states that the word however should only be used after a semicolon, not a period, at the beginning of a clause. In reality, the ACT considers both constructions correct.  Correct: Many people believe the tomato is a vegetable; however, it is actually a fruit. Correct: Many people believe the tomato is a vegetable. However, it is actually a fruit. On grammar questions, "semicolon + however" will be used, while on rhetoric questions, "period + However" will be used. To the best of my knowledge (based on about 25 tests), you will never be asked to choose between the two constructions.  Affected pages: p. 35  p. 40 p. 46 p. 179 p. 243
A couple of days ago, I posted about how reading the blurb before the passage can in some cases allow you to quickly eliminate multiple answer choices to a question -- even before you've read the passage(s). (If you haven't read that post, you should consider doing so before you going any further).  To refresh you, this blurb establishes that the Cold War is the topic of this Passage 1/Passage 2 pair: The term "Cold War" refers to a period of confrontation from about 1945 to 1990 between the two global superpowers of that era, the United States and the Soviet Union (a collection of republics led by Russia). These passages are adapted from a book published in 1998. Because the topic must almost certainly appear in the correct answer choice to the question below, you can start by eliminating (C) - (E), even in the absence of any additional…
If you've looked at any SAT prep books or taken a class, you've probably been advised to always read the blurb before the passage. As I was discussing with Debbie Stier yesterday, however, those couple of lines can seem like a throwaway. People keep on reading them because they know they should, but they don't really know how to use the information they provide. Truth be told, I never thought all that hard about those little blurbs until recently, when I was explaining to someone to how incredibly important it is for students to be be able to identify passage topics. Forget main point, tone, and all those, uh, "higher order thinking skills" like inferences. If a student cannot figure out what the topic of a passage is… well, they're not necessarily screwed, but let's just say that things won't be easy.  As I was saying this, I started thinking…
Occasionally I'll stumble across a CR passage that seems perfectly straightforward to me, but that I see students stumble on over and over again. One such passage begins in the following way:  Through a friend's father, Elizabeth found a job at a publishing company.Her parents were puzzled by this. The daughters of their friends were announcing their engagements in the Times, and those who joined the Peace Corps or had gone to graduate school were filed under the heading of "Useful Service" as if they had entered convents or dedicated themselves to the poor.  The passage continues for another couple of sentences, but that's pretty much the gist of it.  That my students should have such difficulty with this of all passages was a mystery I had filed away in a mental drawer somewhere, to be trotted out an examined from time to time but never yielding sufficient clues for me to draw any real…
I recently spoke with Celest Horton, who runs the "How to Pay For College" podcast series, about how to prepare for the English and Reading Comprehension sections of the ACT. You can listen to the interview here or download it in iTunes here.  
Page 1 of 13
No Account? Sign-Up to access Study Guides, Exercises and More!