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For more information, please see full course syllabus of SAT Critical Reading
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Lecture Comments (9)

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:20 PM

Post by Rishabh Kasarla on January 25, 2014

Hi professor Hendershot!

I am an 8th grade student and wanted to study for the SAT. I am currently reading the Percy Jackson series... is reading any of these books a good idea for helping me on the SAT?

Thanks in advance!

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:43 PM

Post by Jeffrey Tao on October 29, 2013

Do you have any good books to recommend for someone in 8th grade? I'm studying for the SAT for a talent search, and I need some books to help my vocabulary. I like all of the genres stated in the video, except romance, but I especially enjoy sci-fi, mystery, and adventure. Thank you!

2 answers

Last reply by: Alex Moon
Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:08 PM

Post by Alex Moon on August 7, 2013

A great example of intelligent comic books that would serve its purpose is the TinTin series.

But are you serious about Watchmen? I am wondering if there are poignant themes that could be used as effective examples in the SAT essays.

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:20 PM

Post by osias souza on July 15, 2013

Hi Rebekah,
I have been reading Bernard Cornwell, actually I read The last kingdom already, and lately I've been reading The pale horseman. yeah right! I like "swords-and-horses books" :)

What to Read For the SAT

  • Why Read?
    • Reading is the single best way to build your vocabulary, period.
    • Reading gives you practice at understanding both the literal meaning of text and what authors are saying “between the lines”
    • Reading gives you a ready supply of examples for the essay.
    • Reading older books helps you familiarize yourself with the styles and language of previous centuries.
    • Reading is a great way to relax and reduce stress–and preparing for the SAT is stressful enough.
  • How to Choose Books
    • Choose books in areas that interest you. If you hate kissing, don’t read romance novels. If you love spaceships, don’t waste your time on Westerns.
    • Choose books that challenge you. A good book should regularly introduce characters or ideas that make you think, and you should encounter a good vocabulary word at least every couple of pages.
    • Don’t choose books that are too hard or ridiculously boring. You won’t read them.
    • Use, or ask a librarian, bookseller, or friend to recommend books based on your interests and what you’ve liked before.
  • The Rule of Three
    • If you’re reading something on your own time, you must manage your time wisely. Don’t give up on reading too quickly, and don’t waste all your time trying to read something unhelpful.
    • If a work is short (like a short story or an article), give it three pages to pique your interest.
    • If a work is long (like a novel), give it three chapters or 20 to 30 pagesto pique your interest.
    • If whatever you’re reading hasn’t got your attention by then, you have my permission to try something else.
  • Great Books for Every Interest
    • If you’ve never been a big reader, you might not know what you like to read. You might not have found it yet!
    • So ask yourself–what do you like to watch on television? What are your favorite movies? What are your interests? What are your favorite things to do in your free time? Find a book about something you love, and you will never be bored.
    • If all else fails, pick up one of these titles, read 3 pages, and see what happens.
    • If thatfails, ask a librarian. Seriously. They’re awesome. And they don’t really shush people anymore.
  • Mystery
    • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Murder on the Orient Expressor And Then There Were None– Agatha Christie
    • The Maltese Falcon– Dashiell Hammett
    • Anything by Raymond Chandler with Phillip Marlowe in it.
    • The Beekeeper’s Apprenticeand the Mary Russell series – Laurie R. King
    • The Final Solution –Michael Chabon
    • The Crispin Guest mysteries – Jeri Westerson
    • Anything that’s won an Edgar Award
  • Adventure
    • Captain Bloodor Scaramouche– Rafael Sabatini
    • The Princess Bride– William Goldman
    • Tarzan of the Apes– Edgar Rice Burroughs
    • Sharpe’s Rifles –Bernard Cornwell
    • The Three Musketeers –Alexandre Dumas
    • Gentlemen of the Road –Michael Chabon
    • The Prisoner of Zenda– Anthony Hope
    • The Jungle Book –Rudyard Kipling
  • Fantasy
    • The Hobbitand The Lord of the Rings– J.R.R. Tolkien
    • The Last Unicorn– Peter S. Beagle
    • Conan the Cimmerian– Robert E. Howard
    • American Godsand Anansi Boys –Neil Gaiman
    • The Discworld series – Terry Pratchett
    • The Golden Compass– Philip Pullman
    • The Dragon and the George(Dragon Knight series) – Gordon R. Dickson
    • Dragonsong– Anne McCaffrey
    • The Chronicles of Narnia –C.S. Lewis
    • Anything that’s won a Mythopoeic Award, a World Fantasy Award, or a Hugo Award
  • Science Fiction
    • Stranger in a Strange Land –Robert A. Heinlein
    • Fahrenheit 451 –Ray Bradbury
    • The Blackcollar –Timothy Zahn
    • Foundation and I, Robot –Isaac Asimov
    • Dune –Frank Herbert
    • The Beast Master– Andre Norton
    • Soldier, Ask Not –Gordon R. Dickson
    • Ender’s Game –Orson Scott Card
    • Anything that’s won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, or a John W. Campbell Award, plus any author who’s been named a Grandmaster.
  • Humor
    • The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (I particularly recommend Going Postaland Thud!)
    • The Callahan series by Spider Robinson (I particularly recommend The Callahan Chronicalsand Callahan’s Key)
    • Sir Apropos of Nothing– Peter David
    • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy –Douglas Adams
    • Code of the Woostersor Thank You, Jeeves – P. G. Wodehouse
  • Romance
    • Ivanhoe –Sir Walter Scott
    • Jane Eyre –Charlotte Bronte
    • Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, or just about anything else by Jane Austen
    • The Princess Bride –William Goldman
  • Realistic Fiction
    • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
    • Dodger – Terry Pratchett
    • Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes – Chris Crutcher
    • The Wednesday Wars – Gary D. Schmidt
    • Anything that’s won a Newbery Medal or Printz Medal
    • Anything that’s been named an American Library Association Notable Book
    • Anything that’s won a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Awardandlooks interesting
  • A Great Place to Start
    • Nation –Terry Pratchett
  • If You Can’t/Won’t Read
    • Listen to audiobooks and podcasts
    • Watch live performances
    • Have someone read to you
    • Shakespeare performed by people who love Shakespeare
    • Gilbert and Sullivan performed by people who love Gilbert and Sullivan
    • Turn on the captions!
  • The Dirty Secret of Reading
    • Comic books!Yes, really! (But call them graphic novels.)
    • Watchmen– Alan Moore
    • Sandman –Neil Gaiman
    • Superman: Earth One –J. Michael Straczynski
    • Astro City –Kurt Busiek
    • Maus –Art Spiegelman
    • Persepolis –MarjaneSatrapi
    • We3 –Grant Morrison
    • The Unwritten –Mike Carey
    • Mouse Guard –David Petersen
    • Morning Glories –Nick Spencer
    • PS238 –Aaron Williams
    • Starman –James Robinson
    • Anything that’s won a Harvey Award or an Eisner Award.
  • Recommended supplementary material to view SAT questions featured in lesson answer guides: The Official SAT Study Guide by the College Board.

What to Read For the SAT

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:08
  • Why Read? 0:57
    • Best Way to Build You Vocabulary
    • Practice Understanding What the Authors Are Saying 'Between the Lines'
  • How to Choose Books 2:42
    • Choose Books in Areas That Interest You
    • Choose Books That Challenge You
  • The Rule of Three 4:27
    • If a Work Is Short, Give It Three Pages to Pique Your Interest
    • If a Work Is Long, Give it Three Chapters to Pique Your Interest
  • Great Books for Every Interest 5:32
    • Ask Yourself What Are Your Favorite Things to Watch & Do?
    • Asking a Librarian for Great Books
  • Mystery 6:49
  • Adventure 10:14
  • Fantasy 12:55
  • Science Fiction 17:13
  • Humor 21:10
  • Romance 23:09
  • Realistic Fiction 24:12
  • A Great Place to Start 25:12
    • Nation - Terry Pratchett
  • If You Can't / Won't Read 27:19
    • Listen to Audio books
    • Watch Live Performances
    • Shakespeare Performed BY People Who Love Shakespeare
  • The Dirty Secret of Reading 29:31
    • Comic Books!
    • The Unwritten - Mike Carey