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SAT Reading Practice Tips

The SAT Reading section is deceptively difficult because of how it taxes your time usage. If you don’t know how to tackle the reading passages, you won’t answer every question. Here then are some SAT Reading practice tips that will help on test day.

If, in the future, you want to boost your SAT Reading score, here are a few ways to make the second round go even better.

6 SAT Reading Practice Tips

Know What Will Be There

You have 65 minutes to complete the entire section; be mindful of what you’re facing in it.

You have that time to:

  • Read five different passages (taken from literature, history, social studies, and the natural sciences)
  • Answer 52 total questions

The questions test your abilities to do a variety of things:

  • determine word meanings in the context
  • decide why authors include specific details
  • define the passage’s main idea
  • compare multiple passages
  • interpret graph information

You now have an understanding of what to focus your reading section prep on.

Read What Is Necessary

You don’t have to read every single word in the passage and become an expert on the topic.

All of the information you need to answer the questions is right in front of you. Instead of reading the entire passage first, work on skimming first.

Read over the first and last paragraphs, then skim over the rest to pick out the main ideas. From there, start tackling the questions.

If you need specific info to answer one, then simply go back to that paragraph and get what you need.

Choose Your Answering Order

Remember that Reading section questions aren’t organized by difficulty.

Reading questions are not presented in order of difficulty, but rather in chronological order. If you unexpectedly hit a hard question early on, don’t be afraid to skip it and come back.

Answering questions out of order is fine, as long as you remember to double back and finish the rest. Remember that all questions have an equal point value, so don’t think harder ones are worth more points.

Answer Main Idea Questions Last

Many Reading passage first questions test you on the passage’s main ideas, save them for last.

Many of those questions will ask you about one of the following: the main idea or purpose, the narrative point of view, the shift that may occur during the passage.

The problem here is you haven’t read the entire passage yet. Answer the other specific questions first, because then you’ll end up understanding the overall themes and structure.

At that point, go back and answer those main idea questions.

You Aren’t Tested On Your Opinion

The SAT does not care about opinions; it only cares about what is supported by evidence.

Don’t forget that fact. Whenever you see a question that contains the following words, be careful:

  • Infer
  • Imply
  • Suggest

The answer may not be directly stated in the passage, but there is plenty of evidence there for the right answer. Look for the evidence that supports what you think the answer is.

If you can’t find it, then skip it.

Work On Dual Passages Simultaneously.

Here’s another time-saving trick to use.

One of the passages will actually be a pair of smaller texts about the same topic. Chances are it’ll either be a Science or History/Social Studies topic.

Think of them as the same overall passage and answer questions accordingly. Answer questions for the first passage, then the second passage questions, and finally questions about both passages last.

The benefits here are saving time and not confusing yourself between the passages when looking over answer choices.

If you want to learn more don’t miss our article on SAT reading strategies.

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Prep Expert

Written by Prep Expert

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