"Based on the student's Diagnostic Report and his stated priorities, we began our work by focusing on the Reading section of the exam. We went over several strategies for approaching the passage-based questions, including:
* reading the questions before the actual passage, and underlining specific line references, names and key words in the questions;
* coming up with 2-3 word summaries of each paragraph in a longer passage, and using abbreviations and/or symbols to mark memory-cues for himself in the margins as he reads;
* briefly taking stock of the overall tone, apparent purpose, and main ideas of a passage before returning to the questions; and
* immediately ruling out incorrect answer choices based on discrepancies of tone, focus, or specificity between the answer choice and the text.
We also went over general reading-comprehension skills such as recognizing tone in dialogue, identifying key details (both in general and as they relate to the questions following the passage), and deciphering metaphorical language.
After working on passage-based questions, we turned our attention to sentence completions; the student has very good instincts regarding the general tone that a missing word would need to have in order to complete a sentence and the necessary relationships between two word choices in two-blank questions. We built on those instincts by discussing and practicing some ways to make an informed guess as to the tone and meaning of unfamiliar words.
Many of the questions that he found most challenging boiled down to the vocabulary involved, whether in a section of a reading passage, in a question, or -- more often -- in one or more of the answer choices. We began looking at some of the prefixes and word roots that came up in the words with which he was least familiar, and I gave him a word-root based assignment to complete before our next session. He is intelligent, and I trust that we will be able to develop his vocabulary to a degree that will make the Reading section less intimidating for him."