I feel bad for these teenage boys studying for the SAT sometimes. Mostly in regards to the reading comprehension section. The passages are so boring to them most of the time. They have to read them and answer intricate and tricky questions about content, inferred meaning, tone, metaphors used, etc. There are passages about Japanese ants, a daughter's resentment-riddled memories of her mother, and about what it's like to be a senior citizen. They boys I tutor could care less!
Finally I thought today to try beginning one student's reading comprehension test prep with a more interesting first passage. Not from the CollegeBoard book or official online SAT study guide. But from one of my favorite magazines... GQ.
I assigned two different short articles for him to read, each one excerpted from a feature on "47 Reasons to Rediscover Europe". They had a much more relevant voice, interesting details, and it was much easier to discern the "tone." I know he preferred this to the ants passage.
After that, my student said, "You must really be into travel and Europe right?"
"Oh you know...a bit," I downplayed.
Plus, the other articles in this particular GQ were about a high school sex scandal, the greatest gory movies ever made, a top surfer who loves to get laid, and a lengthy piece about the atrocities of Khmer Rouge. Not my favorite issue ever, so certainly the travel feature was the best option, despite my particular bias.