Critical Reading Strategies

Critical Reading Section Strategies

  • Take notes in the margin. Every 10-20 lines you should write some notes in the margin about what you just read. Be sure your notes are in your own words. By doing this, you will not only ensure that your mind stays focused on the passage throughout, but will also be reinforcing the knowledge you just gained by rewording it yourself.
  • Eliminate the three wrong answers. It can be tempting to look for the one correct answer, but a more effective skill is identifying what makes an answer incorrect (see Rules for answering on the next page). 
  • Try first answering questions with your hand covering the answer choices. 75% of the answer choices on the Critical Reading section are incorrect and made to sound like they are correct. Answer the question to the best of your ability first, then read through each option. 
  • Use question pairs together. Some questions are followed by a corresponding question that asks you for the line that provides the best evidence to the previous question. Use these together to find your best pair of answers. The link between both correct answers should be strong. 
  • Skim the questions before reading the passage. This strategy is for students who are either strong readers or have significant trouble completing the section on time.