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How to Prepare for College Reading and Writing: What Questions to ask Your English High School Teach

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The reading and writing skills you learn in high school serve as the foundation of knowledge you build upon in college, but what if your skills aren’t adequate for reading your first college textbook or writing your first college paper? Now is the time to ask your English teacher these essential questions:


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Step One
Am I reading and writing at my grade level? If you are taking a regular high school English class, you should be reading at your grade level; if you are taking an advanced English class, you should read one to two years above your grade level; and if you are taking an AP/IB English class, you should read at a college level. But if that is not the case and you are reading below your grade level, it’s important that you get help from your teacher, an older student, or someone else in your school or community.
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Step Two
What is my best asset as a reader? There are many components to being a good reader, so you may possess one or all of these skills in varying degrees of potency: having a keen vocabulary; having a high level of reading comprehension; detecting and understanding themes; identifying rhetorical devices; and the ability to make connections between what you read and other pieces of literature, religious beliefs, different philosophical schools, historical events, and your own life.
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Step Three
What is my best asset as a writer? As with reading, there are several characteristics that form an able writer: a strong command of rhetorical devices, such as diction, syntax, imagery, and tone; a firm understanding of grammar and mechanics; decent spelling; a wide range of vocabulary; creativity and original thought; a sense of fluidity and organization; and, again, the ability to make connections.
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Step Four
How do my reading and writing abilities compare to those of my classmates? Hopefully your reading and writing skills are similar to your classmates’---if not better. If not, the last thing you want to do is fall behind, so find help as soon as possible. A high level of literacy is not only crucial for college, but crucial for life.
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Step Five
What can I do to improve my reading skills? (ie, brush up on vocabulary, pay closer attention to literary techniques, etc.) The best way to improve your reading skills is to read often and to explore different genres and media. Try books, magazines, newspapers, CD-ROMs, and online resources in everything from fiction to non-fiction, poetry to prose, adventure to romance.
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Step Six
What books, magazines, and other works do you suggest I read? You don’t have to stick to the classics to become a great reader and cultivate yourself intellectually, but you should read a few of what are commonly known as the English language’s best novels and plays. Just don’t limit yourself to the classics; read contemporary books, too.
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Step Seven
What can I do improve my writing skills? (ie, strengthen knowledge of grammar, learn proper mechanics, pump up creativity, etc.) The best writers are great readers. Read frequently and study what qualities published works repeatedly have in common, then practice writing. Start off with writing shorter works, like poetry, short stories, and mini essays, then progress to writing larger pieces. Keeping a journal or a diary is a perfect way to improve your writing, too.





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