Tag Archives: reading comprehension

The GRE: When Should You Start Prepping?

Average GRE students get average GRE scores
     If you really want to get the best GRE scores possible, start studying long before you will be taking the GRE test. Ideally, that means at least a month beforehand. And don’t forget to schedule your test with enough time for your GRE scores to get to your grad school of choice. GRE scores can take up to three weeks to get in the hands of the right person.

Continue reading The GRE: When Should You Start Prepping?

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Top Five GRE Tips


GRE Prep

  1. Start studying for your GRE early. How early? You can improve on your GRE math (quantitative) scores quickly since most of it is basic, and most people just need a refresher. Building an adequate GRE vocabulary, however, takes a long time. Several months is best.
  2. Be strategic with what you study for the GRE. For example, it’s not worthwhile for most people to practice the GRE reading comprehension much. You just won’t improve your score that much for the amount of time it will cost you. Better; knowing the techniques and ways to identify the best answers on the GRE quantitative and GRE verbal sections will give big score increases in a hurry.
  3. Know how your grad school handles your GRE scores. Call up your grad school adviser and find out which sections of the GRE they are most concerned with. Do they even look at your GRE written analytical scores? Many schools don’t. Do they use your scores as a way to weed out which students they will consider? Is your score something they collect but don’t actually use in the admissions process? Is it a way to differentiate applicants who are otherwise similarly qualified? Find out more here.
  4. Get good GRE help. A good GRE prep course can really make a big difference in your scores in a hurry. You can find out exactly what’s on the test as well as getting guided practice. The best courses have experienced instructors and high quality practice questions. You can check out my GRE prep course options here. OR see my online video course.
  5. Know the Single Best Way to Boost Your GRE Score!
© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Iron New Information Into Your Brain


Did you ever try to iron a shirt with a cold iron? Could you get that shirt ironed without the heat? Sure, but it would take for-freakin-ever! Ironing a nice fold into a shirt is oh-so-much faster when you’ve got HEAT.

Trying to learn stuff by going over it again and again is about as effective as ironing with a cold iron. You can do it, but it’s sloooooow and it’s a LOT of work. Getting memories ironed into your brain is much easier if you know how to Bring The Heat! Continue reading Iron New Information Into Your Brain

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Read and Reap: Suck the Facts Out of Your Texts


Holy-frikkin-mooses. I just read three paragraphs in my Whirled History book, and I don’t have clue one on what it was about. How can I fish the beefy info chunks outta the steamy cesspool of facts that is my reading assignment?

If that’s your main pain, then consider this simple drill to make your mind into a magnet for important points in your reading.

First, mark up a (disposable) copy of your reading assignment. Take a red pen or marker and start eliminating non-essential words. Get all guvmint-censor/evil-english-teacher on it. Your goal is to mark out as much of each sentence as possible while still retaining the overall meaning. It should look like you tapped a vein and bled all over the paper. Continue reading Read and Reap: Suck the Facts Out of Your Texts

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Simple Way to Boost Reading Focus


dugthedog.jpgAnyone who has ever tried to bulldoze their way through a narcolepsy inducing SAT or GRE reading comprehension passage will know just how hard it is to maintain focus when reading. No matter how hard you try to feign interest in scintillating topics like “The History of Corn Prices in 19th Century Dubuque” or “An In-Depth Look at Catatonia in Clams” we just can’t seem to keep our gray matter engaged. We end up like that dog in the movie Up. “Squirrel!”

I’ve got an easy fix to help keep your wayward brain on track and boost your comprehension.

Don’t be like Saint Ambrose.

Saint Augustine noted that when he went to visit Ambrose–then the bishop of a hoppin’ 4th Century Milan–he often found him reading silently. No lie. The guy read without saying the words out loud! I know. Weird, right? “When he read,” Continue reading Simple Way to Boost Reading Focus

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Question Everything! – to deepen comprehension and increase recall.


Monkey_Has_A_QuestionI know what you’re thinking, “Should I really question everything?” You’re such a smart-aleck, but the answer is, “yes!” at least if you want to hoover the knowledge-nuggets right out of whatever you’re studying and make yourself into the uber-scholar you always new you could be.

Posing kick-ask questions–and thinking carefully through how you might answer them–is a well-researched method of deepening comprehension and increasing recall (not to mention totally amping up your cred with the prof). But what constitutes a good question? And how can one learn how to ask them with all the speed and tenacity of an espresso-filled four-year old?

Good questions are questions that require Continue reading Question Everything! – to deepen comprehension and increase recall.

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Harvard on Reading



The college library at Harvard (pronounced Hahhhh-vuhd) gives a simple, sweet summary on how best to digest your college reading. Get some ivy-league  insight on…

  1. Previewing
  2. Annotating
  3. Outlining, Summarizing, Analyzing
  4. Looking for Patterns
  5. Contextualizing
  6. Comparing and Contrasting

If these sound suspiciously like the advice I’ve been giving in my posts and in my Secrets Smart Students Know ebook on reading it’s because it is! “Great minds” and all that…

Working on reading comprehension for the GRE and SAT essays? Obviously, you won’t have time to do all six steps above. However, getting in the habit of reading deeply and thinking about college level texts will definitely amp up your baseline reading comprehension skills. Bottom line? Increased essay scores on the GRE and SAT.

Interrogating Texts: 6 Reading Habits to Develop in Your First Year at Harvard

Can You Really Triple Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension?


If you’re like me, the claims of speed reading courses rank right up there with magic beans and political promises.  Too bad.  Speed reading won’t enable you to read the RandomHouse unabridged dictionary in ten minutes with perfect comprehension.  However, it can easily help you read three or four times faster while keeping pretty good comprehension.

You’ll notice I’m not selling a speed reading course.  No ulterior motives here.  I’ve just seen what a little training and practice can do.  My reading speed about five years ago was around 150 words per minute.  Now it’s closer to 500.  That means what used to take me three hours to read I can now read in less than an hour!

That increase came from consistently practicing some techniques that are freely available on the web.  I practiced three or four times per week, thirty minutes at a time, for about two months, and that investment has Continue reading Can You Really Triple Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension?

Summarizing to Increase Reading Comprehension – Low-lighting


far-side-what-dogs-hearI firmly believe that Great Truths are found in Far Side cartoons. In this case, Ginger has shed light on the topic of reading comprehension … really.

Granted, the skill of reading comprehension ain’t sexy, but it is WAAAAY valuable. Consider; you can read that research paper on “Platypi Reproductive Rituals” several times in a row in an attempt to understand it well enough to answer the essay question on tomorrow’s test, or you can read it once with excellent understanding. And don’t get me started on the reading comprehension passages in the SAT and GRE. In short, upping your reading comp. skills will save you time and get you better scores.

Sorta stinks, then, that it’s so difficult to improve one’s reading comprehension. In fact, SAT and GRE books devote almost zero attention to improving the skill, preferring to acquaint students with details about the layout of the passages and the different reading comprehension question types they may encounter. They know that actually improving students’ skill levels in this area are more than they can reasonably accomplish before the SAT or GRE.

However, YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS. Continue reading Summarizing to Increase Reading Comprehension – Low-lighting