Raise SAT Scores, Read Classic Novels
The idea of reading classic novels for increasing vocabulary is not new.
In fact, Kaplan and Prestwick House have published the following novels for this purpose.
The War of the Worlds
The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
While Prestwick House produced the following:
Heart of Darkness
A Christmas Carol
Even catering to those who do not read classics, a publisher attempted to use Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight Saga" as a way to learn vocabulary and increase word knowledge.
The idea in most vocabulary studies involves studying a bunch of words that frequently appears in the SAT. They call this "Hot SAT words". It lists down the words and defines it. The problem with this method is it never goes to the student's long term memory. Memorizing them is not only difficult, it becomes old.
Rather than just taking the list of words from the dictionary, defining them, studying them, these SAT words from classic novels are learned by reading them "in context".
Does it really boost SAT scores?
I would have been skeptical if my son did not try this method. But, instead of us buying the above books by Kaplan. He got the Charles Dicken's novels from our bookshelf and put it to work. He also read the works of G.K. Chesterton and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. Each Charles Dickens book has about 700 to 1000 SAT vocabulary words.
Is there any other benefit?
Aside from increasing vocabulary in an enjoyable way, it helps the student understand complex sentence structures. This is what makes a classic novel outstanding. Literature written before the 1900 is filled with remarkable style of writing. Of course there are the old-fashioned writing such as "hast", "thy", "thou" which admittedly irritates the student.
Most students quit reading a classic novel as soon as the first few pages of the first chapter is read, how can you even expect them to finish it. The first chapter of any book sets the tone. In most classic novels, the first chapter seems the most daunting. It is very hard to "get into". Students consider the first chapter as dull. The scenes stretches more than needed. Thus, parents must encourage their child to read past Chapter 4. Discuss this reality of what to expect in the first few chapters of a classic book. The story line gets better on the second chapter. Really, it is more of an "attitude" problem on the part of your child more than anything else. Your child must get out of that bias.
Anxiety is another main issue. Reading a classic novel is not in the comfort zones of most student these days because they are not exposed to it. It is simply not cool. It is old. Even just thinking about how the plot occurred in the 1800's discourages the young reader. They do not even understand why it is considered a classic in the first place. The generation today is immersed with media distractions. They must be satisfied quickly and entertained. Parents are having a difficult time pulling them away from this high-tech gadget. Children nowadays have forgotten how to be patient.
You have to make the huge step of removing the television in your household if you want to make some progress. And, if you really cannot beat this, why don't you use an e-reader to read classic books. These new devices have an ability to search for difficult words and sound it out. In this site, I would encourage you to browse through our affiliates for a good deal on e-readers.
A classic novel passed the test of time. And, it is proven to raise SAT scores.