1) This first point isn’t a strategy or technique, but more of a mindset change. You have to realize that the Critical Reading Section is just as objective as the math section. Why? Well because otherwise College Board would be getting its ass sued from everywhere. So I’m going to repeat it again: The CR section is just as objective as the math section. There is only one, and truly only one correct answer. Yeah, I know it’s going to be hard, but you have to realize that there are certain subtleties and nuances in each question that either makes each answer right or wrong. So if you’re ever answering a CR question, and you’re left with two answer choices, you messed up. You should train yourself to notice these subtleties and be ruthless in your answer picking.
2) The way in which people read the passages varies from individual to individual. Some people like to look at the questions and read the passages at the same time, which is what I used to do. However, I found that personally, I would do better if I read the text in ‘chunks of paragraph’. So I would read three (or two, if the paragraphs are big) paragraphs, note down their main ideas, and then look at the corresponding questions. If it was a line specific question, I would then go back to the line, and start reading from three sentences blow and read up till three sentences (or more, if needed) ahead. I can’t tell you what technique to use because it varies for everyone. However, do remember that if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to experiment. That is the only way you will find what works best for you.
3) There isn’t a lot of time to read these passages so I recommend spending a max of 30 seconds per sentence-completions. There isn’t any other way around these than grinding it out and actually memorizing all those words. Direct Hits are good, but I also recommend looking up any word you don’t know in the dictionary. The night before my SAT, I was reading a book and the word ‘antediluvian’ came up. I would normally be too lazy to look it up and would skip it, but instead I searched it up on my phone and that was the last thing I did before sleeping. Next day, guess what word came up in my very first section of CR? It was also the right answer. Say what you want, but making that extra, tiny efforts of going out of your way to learn will pay you dividends in the future.
4) Read one challenging, intellectually stimulating text everyday. I recommended going on www.newyorker.com to find a good, solid piece on something that you aren’t very familiar with (remember, anything can come up!)-then, I would personally print that article and read it with a pencil in your hand. Outline key words, look at the main ideas, examine the tone; what is the author trying to tell you? How is he doing this? Why is he doing this? If you find the text boring, even better. Force yourself to love it. I’m serious. Read every sentence as if you’re truly enjoying it; have a good time. That’s the only way you’re going to keep working hard and getting those extra points.
5) Finally, one of the most underrated aspects when studying for anything hard is the importance of mindset. If you truly believe that you can get that 800, you have every single chance of getting it. When you sit in that test room, I want you to think to yourself ‘All the answers are on this bloody page, and I’m going to find all of them’.