You’ve probably heard that the best thing you can do to improve your score on the College Board SAT is to read, read, read.
You know how as a reward your English teacher would show you the movie Romeo and Juliet – fast forwarding through all the racy bits – after you read the book?
She had it backwards!
When it comes to great stories, it doesn’t matter if you know the ending, because you’re enjoying getting there so much. That’s why great novels – and great movies – can be enjoyed again and again. The enjoyment comes not just in the ending, but in the path that gets you there.
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How to watch movies to improve your College Board SAT score
So many of the literature that is considered “great” was written a hundred to two hundred years ago. Even though they’re written in the same language that we speak, the prose and vocabulary are difficult for teens (or even adults!) to follow. This is where watching the movie first can help. In the movie, there are lots of visual cues to help you understand the story. Plus, it’s easier to concentrate for the length of the movie with something to watch. Need suggestions? I’ve got a list of movies based on literary novels, linked to my thoughts on how well suited individual movies are to improve your SAT vocabulary and reading section ability.
Turn on the subtitles
Turn on subtitles. You can read at the same time!
Update 1/28/2019 – This is a tip that really seemed to help both me and my daughters follow the conversation in classic books. But recently I came across a study that proves that Watching Subtitled Films Can Help Learning Foreign Languages. Even though classic novels are in English, you have to get used to a different sentence structure and learn the definition of words that are no longer in use. Learn new words, learn new sentence structure – it’s like learning a foreign language! So it makes total sense that reading subtitles for movies of classic books will help with your comprehension.
3. Read the book.
To get the most out of it, follow up the movie by reading the book. Even if you’ve tried to read the book before, you might be surprised by how much you like it! This is why I think your English teacher got it backwards when she showed you the movie as a “reward” after your read the book. Watch the movie first and reading the book will be your reward, making it more enjoyable!
Even better? Read the book on your Kindle Paperwhite – usually for FREE because these books are in the public domain – so you can easily look up any words you don’t know. When you finish, if you’re really motivated you can then review all those words where they were automatically saved in your vocabulary builder.
4. Make a vocabulary list as you watch the movie, or look for the transcript on-line.
I tried to do this and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Besides, it took all the fun out of it! The whole point of this method of watching movies was it was a much more fun, easier way to prepare for the SAT than vocabulary lists.
But it you want to give it a try, or it you’re a teacher who needs a way to test something to prove that watching the movies really can be educational, here are some resources for making vocabulary lists for movie scripts.
Text Readability scores and vocabulary
Verbal Workout – vocabulary lists and quizzes for over 1000 books!