Letters to the Editor: Want a high SAT score? Read for fun instead of taking a test prep class

A student reads practice questions during a college admission test prep class in Bethesda, Md., in 2016.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

To the editor: Letter writer Linda Mele Johnson said that “rich kids do better on the SAT than poor kids.” A major reason is that “rich kids” do more pleasure reading, because they have far more access to books at home and school.

Studies show that reading more for pleasure (including fiction) results in larger vocabularies, better spelling and better writing. In addition, those who read more know more about literature, history, science and even practical matters.

Literacy scholar Jeff McQuillan has argued that pleasure reading is the best way to score well on the SAT, and it is far more effective, economical and pleasant than test prep. It also makes a strong contribution to school and life success.


Along with the letter writer, I am happy to see the demise of the SAT. Let’s focus instead on investing in libraries and making sure all young readers have plenty of access to books.

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.


To the editor: My experience is different from Johnson’s. In fact, I owe my college education to my SAT score.

Like Johnson, I had lower-middle class parents, and they could not afford tuition, so it was up to me to qualify for a “free” public college.

My guidance counselor told my parents that despite my intelligence, I was a lazy student who was not living up to my potential. So, my mother signed me up to take the SAT; I scored well enough to qualify for admission to a City University of New York campus.

I am certain Johnson studied harder and was a better student than I was. She implied as much when she wrote in her letter that she won a citywide essay contest in high school. I, on the other hand, took a scholarship exam and won — I surpassed all those smart, studious kids.

My son eschewed the SAT and college for a trade school, and I am quite proud to say he is far wealthier, happier and more successful than I was at his stage. To each his own, but the SAT should remain as a valuable tool for gauging a student’s academic ability.

Gary Glasser, Burbank