How to Ace the Reading Section of SAT?
The Reading Section on your SAT exam tests your ability to understand and interpret different kinds of texts that a student might encounter in their course of study during their college life.
There are 52 questions to be attempted in 65 minutes where each question is linked to a passage. As such there are 5 passages with 10 to 11 questions each to make 52. You may also see graphs and tabular data accompanied with the passages and questions will be based on them as well in combination with the passage. There is also a “paired passage” task within those 5 passages. One gets approximately a minute to solve each question of the Reading Section.
On the SAT Test, there are 5 major areas from where you’ll encounter the passages:
- US and World Literature:
- This is always the first passage in the SAT reading section which is an excerpt from a long story or a novel.
- This passage is generally easier than the other passages as it’s easy to comprehend and the events in the passage flow like a story where one just has to keep track of the main characters and the events in the plot.
- This passage is generally an 18th to 20th century document about an event or an idea that provides people's views, effects on the people, or commentary on that topic.
- It can be a part of a speech or an article from a published editorial or a political essay with a language that can be hard to comprehend as the writing can be about a hundred years old and will include some outdated vocabulary.
- The speaker will mostly be an important person like a civil rights activist or a politician, someone of stature and value during those times.
- This passage is generally mid-way in the Reading section, the third passage in the section which includes topics from chemistry, physics and mostly biology.
- Students may find this passage particularly easy or difficult because of the intense scientific vocabulary included in this passage.
- This passage will focus more on discussing recent discoveries, theories, interesting hypothesis and the research methodology and studies associated with them.
- Social Studies:
- This kind of passage includes information and ideas from different fields like economics, education, geography, law, communication, anthropology, sociology, psychology and their various subdomains.
- These passages may also include some graphs or tables to add on more information to the given passage.
- It may appear that this passage is a mix of science and history passages as the passage will have technical jargon with historical association and emphasis on the effects and consequences of the phenomenon mentioned.
- Paired Passages:
- This task is a set of two related passages. There will be only one such task on each SAT paper.
- You will see that instead of one there will be two small passages on topics related to each other generally either from science or history.
- The questions for this task are arranged so that you’ll first see questions asking about individual passages and then questions that will ask you to compare the points discussed in the two passages.
- To prevent being overwhelmed by all the text and make it easier to solve the task, treat the two passages as individual tasks and do the common questions.
Tips to Boost your SAT Reading Score:
1. Make your own Strategy: Start with the type of passage that you find the easiest or the most difficult but keep in mind to complete all the questions in time and not run out of time. Time management is crucial whilst maintaining the accuracy at different types of passages of the Reading section.
2. Follow the Process of Elimination: This is by far the most effective strategy to mark the correct choices in the Reading section. Even one incorrect word in the option can make it completely wrong: options that are too extreme, out of scope can be easily eliminated.
3. Try to think of the Answer before having a look at the choices: Come up with your own prediction to counteract the confusion that the answer choices tend to create. This helps in preventing us from getting biased by the other misleading answer choices that are incorrect.
4. Create an Error log: Understanding and learning from your mistakes is very important. If we don’t understand exactly why we made a particular mistake, it’s possible that we’ll make it again and again. We need to find the source of every mistake whether it was a careless mistake or it was a vocab error and eliminate it.
5. Read the Italicized Passage Introduction: This part of the passage is equally important and should be paid attention to as it gives you context for the entire passage. Also it can give you a clue about the answers to the general questions of the passage like main point etc.
6. Be intrigued about the Subject Matter of the Passages: On the SAT Reading section, you will encounter a lot of strange topics, and it is quite possible that all the topics will not interest you or spike your curiosity, so it’s natural to zone out while reading the passages. This will make it harder to concentrate and answer the questions so a little passion will take you a long way. Pretend to care about the passage and really deep dive into the subject matter.
7. Revise your Work: If you are able to finish in time and have extra time left, double check the questions that you had marked previously, the ones that you were unsure of in the first go.