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How to Stop Zoning Out When Reading

Hunain asks,

While reading the passages, I feel like the words are just passing by my eyes, and at the same time I get nothing out at all from the passage. Neither its general idea or the plot (what’s going on in the passage). This problem occurs while reading Literature and History passages.

Can you please guide me about what to do to recover from this problem?

I know I’ve experienced this – I “read” through a paragraph or a page and realize that, even though my eyes were looking at the words, my mind was off in LaLa Land.

Zoning out when reading is completely normal! Even the best readers can find their attention drifting. If we can’t eliminate this bad habit, we can at least minimize its occurrence and its negative effects on our SAT & ACT Reading scores.

In this video I discuss some strategies to avoid zoning out when Reading passages for the SAT and ACT:

Strategies Discussed:

  1. Focus on the questions – use them as a filter (ACTIVE READING)
  2. Keep moving – don’t get hung up on parts of the passage until you must (i.e. until a question requires you to understand that part of the passage).
  3. Focus on chunks of the passage – develop your understanding of the passage as a whole as you work through questions.
  4. Focus on contrast, difference, controversy (more interesting & helps you figure out passage’s argument).
  5. Pretend to be “interested” in the passage (a weak strategy, but one I list just to be thorough).
  6. Practice, practice, practice!

About the Author:

I’m Rob Schombs, the founder of Reason Prep, creator of these videos, and your test prep tutor. I earned a BA in Chemistry (2006) and an MA in Science and Technology Studies (2009) from Cornell University. In 2010 I started tutoring SAT, ACT, math, chemistry, and writing full-time, and Reason Prep followed shortly after!