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Be a Better Reader With Tips From a Test-Prep Guru

Stephen Byer, founder of tutoring company Byer Educational Consulting, shares some secrets.

Illustration: John Kenzie

Remember your goal

“The example I use with my students is to think about when the teacher said, ‘This is going to be on the final,’ and the level of focus you had then.” It works for adults, too: “Even just setting an intention — ‘I need to use this later’ — can help.”

Reframe boring

Struggling through dense reading at the office? “Don’t dwell on the unpleasurable element. In test prep, one of the common pieces of advice is to pretend that you like something.”

Divide up a long text

“Break it down into smaller parts, whether a paragraph or a portion at a time. Then keep checking in with yourself: What’s my takeaway?”

Slow down

When the work piles up, resist the temptation to speed-read everything. “If we’re talking about something legalistic, a simple ‘and’ or a ‘but’ can have tremendous consequence.”


Notice your mind wandering? “When reading alone doesn’t provide enough stimulation, giving students something physical to do, too, like tracing a line back and forth or playing with a Fidget Cube, can help.”


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