Flickr user City Year

Wondering how you can do better on the reading section in either the ACT or SAT? A great way is to skip the passage almost entirely and read the questions first.

Read At Least the First Sentence

While you’ll want to skip to the questions first, make sure you read at least the first sentence of the passage. This will give you an idea on the topic of the piece to help you better understand the questions and perhaps the direction of the writing. Once you’ve read that, it’s time to go to the question section.

Why Read The Questions First?

Reading the questions first before the bulk of the passage will help you know exactly what to look for when it is time to read. Normally, if you read the passage first and then the questions, you would have to go back into the piece to double check or look up your answers. Answering questions like “What is the point of this passage?” may even require you to re-read the entire thing.

Skipping ahead allows you to streamline the entire process. You know what you’re looking for, you know what details are important, and you can save time on the reading portion, giving you time later to double check your answers.

Leave the “Main Point” Questions For Last

When you’re going over the questions, make a little notation next to the questions that are asking “What is the point of this passage?” or “What is the point of paragraph 3?” This is so you make sure to save them for last.

This tactic allows you to read over the entire passage, get all the details, and understand exactly what you’re reading. Answering it too early may cause you to not fully understand the whole piece and result in a wrong answer.

Use Notes in the Margin

You’re absolutely welcome to write on the ACT and SAT booklets, so take full advantage! You may want to make notes next to the questions pertaining to what type of question they are (specific details or main points). Underline specific subjects or points the question is referencing. Or you might want to write a few things down next to the passage. If a question asks about a specific line, make sure you underline that line within the passage itself.

These notes can help you in the same way reading the questions first does. You know exactly what you’re looking for and can jump quickly to that part of the passage.

Saving time on the SAT and ACT is crucial to making sure you have time for every question within a section. The reading section contains questions about voice, main points, vocabulary, details, and more. It’s important to know what you’re up against before diving in. If you want to test this idea for yourself, try this tactic during a practice exam within your own home and see how it works out! You may find you complete the section faster, allowing time for you to go back and check your answers.

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