SAT Reading Strategies | 5 Ways To Improve Your Score

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The SAT Reading section can provide trouble for students not prepared for the actual reading passages themselves. However, there are SAT reading strategies you can use to crack the passage questions easily.

Use these SAT Reading strategies to effectively tackle the associated questions correctly within the time limit.

Besides reading, we also have a number of SAT grammar tips that will help you in the Reading section too.

SAT Reading Strategies To Use On Test Day

Work On Passages In Your Order Of Strength

Work on your strongest passages first.

At the beginning of the Reading test, rank the passages in your order of strength. By that time, you’ll know which passages are your better ones among this group:

  • Fiction
  • Social Studies
  • History
  • Natural Science

Go ahead and tackle the strongest one(s) first. This tactic has two effects:

  • Your interest level up will stay up
  • You’ll need less time to answer the questions you’re most likely to get correct

If other passages give you too much trouble, your chances of answering incorrectly are higher. Whatever section is your worst one, tackle it last.

Even if you have to guess, you still have a good chance of getting some questions correct. If you’re not sure which passages are your best and worst, work through a few practice tests and see how your scores look.

You’ll see over time which ones consistently give you more trouble than others. Also, with your strong passages finished first, you give yourself extra time on the harder ones.

Chunk Your Reading

Read the passage in chunks by going after the line-cited passages in your questions.

Most Reading section questions refer to a section or specific passage lines. These “line-cited” questions can be answered first. Skip over and save the more general questions for last since you will have read the entire passage by that point.

Mark the chunks of text you read first according to the lines asked about in each line-cited question first. You’ll then know what you haven’t read before skimming the remaining parts of the passage to answer the general questions.

Chunking passages out to answer line-cited ones first and general ones last saves considerable time. You don’t have to keep re-reading the text to find evidence for answer choices.

Make yourself understand only a chunk with a single question in mind at a time and then answer based on the text alone. Once found, then move on to the next question and corresponding chunk.

By the time you’ve got the line-cited questions done, you’ll have read most of the passage. You can skim what’s left, and then answer the remaining broad questions.

Care Only About Evidence Not Opinion

The SAT does test for opinions; only look for answers with clear and direct evidence to support them.

Whenever you see a question that contains the following words, be careful about proceeding:

  • Infer
  • Imply
  • Suggest

The correct answer may not be directly stated in the passage, but there is 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. Worst comes to worst, come back and guess. Remember that there’s no penalty for guessing on the SAT.

Tackle Dual Passages Simultaneously

You can save time by working on dual passages on the same topic simultaneously.
One passage will actually be two smaller texts covering the same topic. It’ll likely be either a Science or History/Social Studies topic.

Think of both texts together as the same overall passage and answer the questions accordingly. Answer questions for the first passage, then the second passage, and finally those questions covering both texts last.

The benefits here are saving yourself time and confusion by not messing up which passage is associated with specific answer choices.

Read Two Lines Above & Below Lines Cited In Questions

For context vocabulary and additional line-specific questions, don’t only read the lines cited when answering them.

Make sure to read two lines above and two below the citation, as well. By doing so, you’ll understand the full context for whatever you’ve read when answering the associated question.

You need to know the context in which a particular word is used, or point is made, in order to correctly understand its significance. The problem with reading just the cited lines alone is you don’t have enough information to get the context correct.

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