SAT Subject Tests: English
- If you have a test on a book or some other reading, make sure that
you have understood it. Read it carefully and go through the parts
that you think are important and would make the best essay topics. Try
to understand all there is to understand about a book so that you will
be in a better position to answer questions about it. Have at least
two essay topics prepared before you take a test. Even if you don't
have to write an essay, the topics that you have chosen are most
likely topics that your teacher wants to test your understanding of.
Make sure that you are really comfortable with the topics that you
have chosen and can give at least two examples from the book that back
up your assertion. For example, you might be asked to write an essay
on any character that you thought acted as a dramatic catalyst in the
play Macbeth. If you followed the advice above, all the hard work
would have been done before you even put a pencil to the test. You
would have already picked out your two or three characters from the
book to focus in on, and most likely, at least one of them acted as a
catalyst in some way. You could pick the Three Witches, Lady Macbeth,
even King Duncan himself-as long as you have some proof to back it up.
(Always read the instructions carefully on a test because your teacher
might just want you to discuss major characters, in which case your
beautiful essay on Banquo's son being a catalyst would not count.)
Give examples like:
"An example of how Lady Macbeth is a catalyst in the play is
when she convinces Macbeth to kill the king. When she says "_________"
she is convincing him to do the deed...(give more details, and if
you don't have exact quotes, just summarize what she said and then
explain it). Another example of how Lady Macbeth is a catalyst
is... Another example is..."
I like to give about three examples from a book to solidify my
assertion. Make sure that you use proper essay form-an introduction
with a thesis or introductory paragraph, then a body and finally a
conclusion. For more on writing essays, check out the monthly feature.
- If you have vocabulary to learn, make sure that you start early.
If you have a lot of words to learn and a good amount of time to learn
them, then I recommend that you use the method I recommend for
learning SAT words. If on the other hand you have not too many words
to learn in a short amount of time I recommend the following:
#1-Get out a sheet of paper and fold it in vertically two.
#2-Write the words you need to learn on the left with about four or
five spaces between each word.
#3-Write the definition on the right.
Now you have a vocabulary list that you can study from and quiz
yourself with by folding back the side with the definitions. Start off
by identifying which words you know perfectly. Then for all the other
words that you are not sure of, read over the definitions carefully.
Once you have done this you can quiz yourself. Do this over and over
again during the day until you no longer have any difficult words. If
you're really having trouble with a word, make up a rhyme that goes
with the definition. The more outlandish the better, so think up
- If you're studying literary devices, then learn their definitions
and qualifications but also get practice identifying them. Look at a
favorite book and try to pick out as many literary devices as you can.