How to Prepare for the SAT Reading Test
Last Updated on April 22, 2023
The SAT is a standardized test developed by the non-profit organization College Board, used for admission to most United States colleges. It is also accepted in other countries, like Singapore, the United Kingdom, and India. It takes place seven times a year across the US and at least three times a year internationally. The SAT consists of three tests: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. This guide will give you key advice on how to study for SAT Reading Test effectively.
SAT Reading Test Structure
The SAT overall is made up of 154 questions and is held over the course of 180 minutes. The Reading Test, in particular, consists of 52 questions and is allotted 65 minutes. Most of the questions are given in multiple-choice format, while some require the students to produce the answer themselves.
It involves reading five passages, four of which are stand-alone while one is a paired set.
There are several types of works of writing that test takers will analyze. The pool that the test will draw from includes the following:
- US and World Literature. Passages can be taken from novels, essays, or short stories.
- History/Social Studies. These can be excerpts from historical documents, such as speeches or open letters in newspapers.
- Social Sciences. These include passages from writing about psychology, sociology, and economics, among others.
- Science. These are passages related to science, chemistry, physics, or biology. They can be taken from sources like articles in scientific journals or books.
All the questions require the test takers to make inferences about the various passages through the information surrounding the text. They must carefully analyze each passage. For example, the Literature passages may ask students to identify the motivations of certain characters. They may also be required to figure out what certain uncommon words used in the prose mean through context clues.
How to Study for the SAT Reading Test
Since it measures the students’ reading comprehension, preparing for the Reading Test requires practice. Given how the passages are taken from works that the test takers may or may not know, reading extensively will be helpful. For example, if you struggle with science, reading scientific articles may help you get a better handle on the types of discussions and technical terms that you may encounter in similar passages.
Active reading can also make a big difference while studying. While going through your reading material, you can make notes about sections that seem important to the overall message being delivered. For example, you can read a selection from a speech given by a historical figure and identify the points where they appeal emotionally to their audience or when they disagree with a popular opinion. Then you can justify your interpretation of these lines by providing evidence, such as specific wording from the source.
If you want to get a better idea of the types of questions that you could be asked, you can take a sample exam. The College Board provides several free practice tests for students through their website, in case you want to get hands-on practice. There are also sample exams by other organizations you can find online or published in books. Finding the right practice material can make a big difference in how prepared you are for the exam.
Tips on Taking Reading Tests
A good tactic with any type of test is to scan the questions before answering and try to find the ones that you feel confident answering right away. For example, you can prioritize items about a subject that you are most familiar with. This frees you up to spend more time on the trickier questions without worrying about easy, unanswered questions. In short, manage your time well, and decide what needs your attention the most.
With the Reading Test largely being made up of multiple choice questions, it is advisable not to leave responses blank. After all, a guess on a multiple choice question still has a fair chance of ending up being correct.
As with all tests, but especially this type of exam, make sure to read the questions and all the choices thoroughly before selecting your answer. However, you should also consider skimming through the passages. Skim through the passage and read the questions. This way, you can know which parts of the text you should focus on and what keywords you need to pay attention to, so you can choose the correct answer.
Read All about It
When it comes to preparing for the SAT Reading Test, practicing with a wide range of reading materials is key to being able to comprehend passages from many subjects. When taking the test, careful reading and time management is how you minimize mistakes. The exam demands a lot out of students, but these handy tips will help you approach the SAT Reading test with confidence and give you the ability to ace the test.