For some reason, every time I offer this little pearl of wisdom to a student, I’m inevitably greeted with looks that range from dubious to downright offended.

I can almost hear the person think, “But that’s what I did in first grade. Putting your finger on the page is for little kids. Doesn’t Erica get that I’m taking this test to get into college? I thought she was smarter than that. Besides, everyone will think that I look stupid!”

Guess what: not a single other test-taker in the room with you cares in the least whether you put your finger on the page or not. Everyone will be so focused on their own work that they won’t have space in their brains to worry about what you’re doing.

According to speed-reading expert Abby Marks Beale,

Because the eyes naturally follow movement, placing a finger, hand or card on a page and strategically moving it down the text, a reader will keep naturally keep their place, be more focused and read faster. This helps readers concentrate and understand what they read making reading a more satisfying experience.

While I’m not sure that most people are seeking”a satisfying reading experience” on the SAT or the ACT, they certainly are looking for increased speed and improved concentration.

This is not just about reading passages, by the way — it helps on every part of the exam. On SAT Writing/ACT English, for example, your eye has a way of filling in the correct answer without your even realizing it (this is particularly true for adjective vs. adverb questions). Unless you look really, really closely, you often simply won’t “see” the error, regardless of how well you understand what’s being tested. And on Math, it’s so easy to forget to solve for 2x and accidentally solve for x instead… Putting your finger on the page may seem like a small thing, but if it saves you from overlooking key parts