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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Maximizing Brain Power on the ACT Reading Test

On test day students need to maximize their brain power. Think of a computer. When we turn on a computer it takes time to boot-up. Once in operational mode a computer is capable of amazing things. If we don't take the time to boot-up a computer, it functions as a paperweight. Bootin-up isn't tech specific either; athletes warm up their muscles prior to a game to insure peak performance. The same holds true for the brain. In fact, jumping into the first word of a reading passage does not give the brain the opportunity to “boot-up” and diminishes comprehension. When some students read material “cold” it results in a cognitive shutdown. A cognitive shutdown on test day is disastrous because it diminishes students’ scoring potential. We want our students to be able to play the whole game; therefore they need to boot-up their brains. The boot-up process takes no more than 10 seconds per passage and yields tremendous results.

The booting-up process taps into the power of our brains to create order out of chaos. It also has the added benefit of making the passage familiar when students actively read it, and more familiar students are with a passage the better they perform on the test.

The booting-up process will appear unnatural to students at first, but in the end it will yield optimal results for all test takers. Practice this technique with students well in advance of test day. The more booting-up a student does, the more booting-up will become second nature, and the more likely students will boot-up on test day.

Booting-Up the Brain

  1. Beginning with first line and visually drink the passage.

  2. Move your eyes down the page instead of across the page. See every line, not every word. Do not attempt to read individual words. See they line of text as a whole. Your brain is picking up words and phrases and making sense of them subconsciously.

  3. You can use two fingers to assist in this process.

  4. Separate your index and middle finger an inch apart, place them on the first line and move your fingers down the first column of the passage. Let your eyes follow your fingers. Continue this process at the top of the next column.

  5. Do not back track, let your eyes drink the text. This provides your brain with a variety of subconscious inputs that will help you optimize your performance.


The booting-up process should take no more than 10 seconds.
The brain must be booted-up for each passage.
Practice, Practice, Practice


In the meantime, take a look at my test prep posts. They are free, and they have worked with city kids. If you have any questions drop me a comment. All comments are posted to my email first. I will never post any email addresses in the comment section. So if you want to contact me, drop me your email and I’ll get back with you. It is my hope that my expertise in this field will help someone out there. Let me know.

Posts Concerning Test Prep

Quick and Dirty Guide to Raising PSAE Scores
PSAE Test Prep Strategies that Work
ACT Reading Prep and the Two-Point Conversion
Maximizing Brain Power on the ACT Reading Test
Realizing Focused Active Reading During the ACT

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