The SAT reading test measures the student’s skills in reading, comprehension, and analysis. The passages are 500-750 words and the questions are divided into three areas: synthesis, rhetoric, and information/ideas. The SAT reading test contains 5 total passages and each passage has 10-11 questions. The student has an average of 13 minutes to spend on each passage. It’s best for the student to spend about 5 minutes reading the passage and 45 seconds to answer each question. The passages range from high school to college level content.
Important tips to consider while reading SAT passages:
- Ask yourself questions while you read.
- Understand the question first then look at the answer choices.
- Review to make sure you’ve found the best answer. Usually, SAT reading passages will contain a few answer choices that seem right, but they’re not the correct answer. Most of the difficult questions will try and throw you off.
As you read the passage, be sure to stay engaged. Don’t read the passage passively and wait for information to come to you. Try to think about what the author is saying. Ask questions about the passage. Also, be sure to map out the passage by finding a main idea for each paragraph. Ask yourself: Why did the writer choose to write about this topic? If you come across a paired passage, read the first passage and then answer the questions pertaining to it. Next, read the second passage and answer the questions that follow. Lastly, answer the questions that go over both passages.
SAT reading passage strategies:
- Don’t skim over the passage.
- Focus on one question at a time.
- Use the two-pass approach.
- Don’t read the questions before reading the passage.
Each SAT reading test includes the following:
- 1 U.S and World Literature passage (from classic and contemporary)
- 2 History/Social Studies passages (from founding documents and political life)
- 2 Science passages (from historical discoveries in Earth science, chemistry, biology, and physics)
Attacking the SAT reading test:
- Read the passage first. Resist the urge to rush ahead. Taking time to read the passages thoroughly will pay off in the end. Students must actively read the passage first.
- Don’t skim the passages. The reading questions require a strong understanding of the passage. Students must understand the author’s role and perspectives. A brief look is not enough to answer the questions with accuracy.
- Only read one passage at a time. Answer all questions pertaining to a specific passage before moving forward. In order to maximize your score, spend your time focusing on the easier questions first. Each question is worth 1 raw point, regardless of the level of difficulty.
- Focus on a single question at a time. Don’t feel the pressure to rush through the test. Relax and don’t think about the next passage. Be patient and you will find yourself working more accurately.
Vint Hill Educational Services offers one-to-one SAT prep focused on the individual. Our program is customized and designed for each unique student. Unlike a group SAT prep class, we concentrate on individual student needs.
Learn more about our SAT prep program.