Profile of a Strategic Reader

Why are some students excellent text readers while others are not? I think the answer boils down to aggressive vs. passive reading. Far too often, I see students passively read every word within a text, underlining indiscriminately (or not at all).  When I ask these students what they have read, they often look up and say, “I don’t know.” Then, they look down and continue reading without any real comprehension. 

My job is to make students AGGRESSIVE readers: to fight through a passage by actively engaging. An aggressive reader understands that text reading is not pleasure reading and adjusts his or her mindset accordingly. Aggressive readers “talk to themselves” as they read: “What does this word mean? Why did the author just write this? What is the main idea in this paragraph? … I don’t understand this line and I might need to come back to it later… I don’t need these next few lines and I can skip to the next paragraph….” 

The active reading strategies that students will learn in this course will not only help them conquer the SAT and ACT but will also help them in high school, college and beyond.


  1. Understands and analyzes how different kinds of reading passages require different strategies
  2. Identifies the task and sets a purpose (discriminates between reading a non-fiction passage vs. a prose passage vs. a double passage vs. a chart vs. a founding document)
  3. Chooses appropriate reading strategies for the reading situation (makes a plan!)
    • General Strategies include:
      • Skimming
      • Summarizing
      • Questioning
      • Clarifying
      • Predicting
      • Looking for important ideas
      • Identifying patterns of text
      • Sequencing events
      • Looking for relationships
      • Reading ahead for clarification
      • Mentally asking yourself questions about your understanding of text
      • Relating text to background knowledge
    • Specific Strategies include:
      • Mapping
      • Circling BIRTHDAY words (But, Instead, Rather, Though, However, Despite, Although, Yet)
      • Underlining rhetorical questions, topic sentences, and anything that comes after a colon and a dash
      • Focusing on the introduction and conclusion 
  4. Monitors own comprehension by
    • Making sure that comprehension is occurring
    • Regulating comprehension for misreading or passiveness

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