5 Tips for the SAT Reading Section

education reading sat preparation standardized test tips Jun 29, 2022
Straightforward tips for the SAT Reading

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Tip 1: Don’t Read (the whole passage)

The first tip for the SAT Reading section is another example of how the SAT is a study in opposites. The first thing you think of when you take a reading comprehension test is that you are reading to understand the passage as a whole. NOPE, not this time. Reading for understanding means that you are synthesizing the information. You are drawing conclusions and inferences both of which are not standardized. Your experiences are different from everyone else so your conclusions will be as well. The answer has to be the same for everyone.  The questions come from 20 - 30% of the information in the passage. Don’t clutter your brain with information you don’t need. 


Tip #2: Think of it as a Scavenger Hunt

The second tip for the SAT Reading section is to remember that answer has to be in the passage. Many of the questions even give you line citations. The questions tell you where to look. Read the answers. Identify the key words in each. Now look at the lines cited. Which of the answer choices is directly supported by the passage. The words won’t be exactly the same but the meaning will be. If you have read the question twice and still can’t identify the correct answer, fill in your answer of the day and MOVE ON! Each question is worth one point. Don’t miss points because you had to find that one answer. 

Tip #3: Read the Fine Print

The third tip for the SAT Reading section is read the fine print. The passages on the SAT are not titled. The only clue to what a passage is about is that fine print at the top. READ IT! It will at least give you a frame of reference. This helps your brain process the information. Without it, your brain is thinking what I am looking at, elephants, rocket ships, or apples? Your brain is going to work hard enough on this test. Help it any way you can. 


Tip #4: The Answer Has To Be EXACTLY right

The fourth tip for scoring well on the SAT Reading section is to remember that word standardized. The answer has to be completely supported by the passage. That means if the passage says, “The girl was sad.” the answer cannot say, “The girl was crying.” You can be sad but not cry. This is why identifying key words can be extremely helpful in choosing the correct answer. If the answer says a character was defensive, there have to be words to support that characterization like guarded, resistant or protective. 


Tip #5: Look for the Stand Out 

The fifth tip for the SAT Reading section is to look for the stand out. While most of the questions on the SAT Reading section come in order, early questions are from the beginning of the passage and so forth, let unusual words help you scan for the information. If a word is capitalized, italicized, particularly long or a number, let that unique characteristic help you scan the passage for the information needed. Make sure to read ALL the words in the answer. One of the test writers favorite tricks is to use a name, place or other word that you will remember in an incorrect answer. They are hoping you will say, “Oh, I remember seeing that word. This must be the right answer.” Don’t fall for that trap!


These five tips are not how you have been trained to read. Using them efficiently takes practice but once you have mastered them your score on the SAT Reading section will improve! Remember, the SAT is not like a test in school. You have to do many things exactly the opposite. 

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