SAT Section Advice: Reading

Flickr user George Thomas

While the SAT creators say that the new test has the same amount of words as the old, outside analysts argue that the context of those words has changed. Some math problems have more reading than the old ones. The reading passages have increased in length, and there is much more focus on gaining information from the passages instead of grammar. But just like any other test, there are ways to prepare for it.

Read For Information

Whether it’s the math portion or reading, you need to look for the important information. In the math portion, look for the equation first. Then you can look back through the passage to fill in the values. This allows you to skip over information that is not required to complete the problem. With the critical reading portion, look at the questions for direction. You should still read through the whole passage if you have time because that’s where you will get overall context from.

Read On Your Own

Reading comprehension increases the more you read. Your speed should also increase as you read more regularly. Both of these aspects will help you on the test.

One thing that is a good idea is to read older classics. One part of the reading portion will concern an excerpt from a text over 100 years old. Reading older literature will help prepare for understanding that writing style.

Summarize Paragraphs

When you are reading, it can be helpful to write summaries in the margins after paragraphs. This can be helpful in making information more memorable. It also helps to identify where you need to look for information if you kind of know what each paragraph concerns.

Readjust Your Seating

If you’re having trouble concentrating or find yourself zoning out, move a little. Obviously you can’t really get up and stretch, but sometimes sitting up straighter for a minute can help.


You as students lead busy lives, but when you can, you should take the practice tests. The College Board (the SAT’s company) provides free practice tests online. It is encouraged that you take advantage of them.

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