Summer is a perfect time to catch up on reading – and it’s a great chance for kids to get an early start on books they will likely need to read or know for testing, college, or simply understanding the culture. Many students who take the PSAT, SAT, and ACT often find the reading comprehension segments some of the most challenging. Some may struggle to accurately interpret passages without the rest of the larger works to provide greater context.
College and ACT, PSAT, ACT Prep
Finding a few books with passages likely to appear in the ACT, PSAT, and SAT is not only a great way to practice reading comprehension in general, but it may also actually provide fantastic preparation by providing the full context of the passages included in the test. Here are some of the most often included books in standardized tests, as well as some that potential college students will likely encounter.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s timeless classic has had numerous adaptations in film over the years, which alone is a testament to its legacy. Austen prose is absolutely beautiful, making Pride and Prejudice one of the most beloved examples of 19th-century British literature.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Most literature professors and scholars include Charles Dickens in the list of the most influential authors in history. Great Expectations is a staple of many higher education courses in literature. Great Expectations is equal parts enjoyable and challenging for most high school-level readers. Even if passages don’t appear on the SAT, reading Great Expectations is still a great way to prepare for higher level reading comprehension.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo is quite possibly the most well-known revenge story in literary history. It is compelling and thrilling, and most readers at the high school level will appreciate its darker themes and gripping narrative flow.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
If you have seen the Les Misérables musical, why not read the original source material? Victor Hugo’s classic is a glimpse into French history, a political commentary on anti-monarchism. It is an emotional tale of regret and redemption. It’s a commonly referenced book, so knowing it ahead of the SATs can be a gift.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, is often called one of the greatest novels ever written. The book captures the concept of man versus nature as well as man versus himself in a way no other novel has. Many high schools throughout the country include Moby Dick in their required reading lists. Any students who do not need to read it for high school should make time to do so on their own ahead of standardized tests.
Check out your local library for free access to these classics. Some of these will appear on PSATs and SATs as reading comprehension section material, but even when they do not, reading them is not only enriching but also great practice for reading comprehension. If you have a student preparing for the SAT or any other type of standardized test, these books are a great place to start.