Are you struggling with how to prepare for the Reading section of the SAT? Do the passages look like a wall of text to you? Are you a slow reader? Here are some tips for approaching this section of the test and increasing your score.
- You have 65 minutes to answer 52 questions on this section. That’s about:
- 10 min 45 seconds per passage
- 1 minute 15 seconds per question
- Pay attention to the big picture of the passage and what it’s all about.
- The questions often appear in the order of when they appear in the passage (not including general questions about the passage as a whole)
- The New SAT has a much greater emphasis on words in context. It is no longer good enough to know vocabulary words. Instead, you must be able to understand the meaning of words based on how it is used in the passage. Read the sentences before and after (at least!) the target sentence with the key word. Ask yourself: what emotion does this word convey? Is it positive or negative? What is happening when this word is used? What word would I substitute in its place that would make sense?
- Take notes, underline, circle information as you read the passage.
- If you’re not a fast reader, consider going straight to the questions first and referring back to the passage for the answers. Read the answer choices to give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
- Don’t overthink any words you may not know. You don’t need to know what most of them mean. Just pay attention to what the passage is saying about that word and how it’s used.
- As you’re reading, pay attention to the tone of the author and the characters in the passage. How would you describe their emotions?
- Remember that authors choose their words for a reason when writing. Think: what is the author trying to make you think/feel?
- Pay attention to the ideas that are mentioned frequently. This is likely the main idea.
- When trying to understand the main idea of a paragraph, read the first and last sentences. When trying to understand the main idea of the passage, read the first and last sentences (and maybe the entire first/last paragraphs).
- Don’t try to memorize information on the test. The test is open book, so you can flip to another page within the same section and come back later.
- The New SAT places much more emphasis on command of evidence. In other words, they want to you to be able to find examples in the text that will support a certain viewpoint.
- For practice, read news articles from places such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Washington Post. Specifically, read the opinion pieces. Pay attention to the points each author makes. How to they back up those points with evidence.
- Some problems can only be answered correctly if you get the question before it correct.
- The New SAT specifically states that it will pull passages from the U.S. Founding Documents and the Great Global Conversation.
Looking for more help? Check out our SAT worksheets.