4 Best Study Tips for the SAT Reading Section

Your SAT scores are an important component of your overall college application. Although many schools are opting to SAT optional policy this year due to the pandemic, it will still provide you with competitive edge if you can receive high scores. Our data show that the SAT scores, on average, hold the weight of 25% in overall college admission decisions. Indeed many prestigious programs require the minimum SAT scores to even apply, so if you are looking to gain a place to an especially top-tier college, you will want to ensure that you attain the highest possible scores. So what’s the best way to prepare and study for the Reading section of the SAT?

1. Read a Spectrum of Genres and Formats

The students who do well in the SAT Reading section are those able to display superior reading ability, so it’s necessary to develop this skill even outside of the SAT passages. Familiarize yourself with a variety of writing styles such as literary novels, news articles and scholarly articles. Taking in a broad range of genres will help refine your overall reading skill, and while the passages you come across in the SAT reading section may differ from some of the genres mentioned above, having the experience with a variety of texts will help your mind adapt to the comprehension of the passage put in front of you during the test, whatever the subject matter and the style in which it is written.

2. Write Down the SAT Passages

The passages of the SAT Reading test is dense and not easy to understand if you are not trained in the right way. Surprisingly, writing down the SAT passage is one of the best way to get used to the content-heavy nature of the SAT passages. It will provide you with the abilities to analyze the sentence structure better, and give you chance to scrutinize the texts. As you write down, it’s good practice to build the passage’s narrative in your head. Sentence upon sentence builds on the same idea, reinforcing the one from before.

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3. Memorize and Familiarize Yourself with a Particular Set of Words

The specific section for testing vocabulary was taken out of the test in 2016, since it was recognized that this area was not a significant demonstration of one’s college-level ability. Instead, much of the vocabulary used is designed to be understood within the context of the passage itself. However, it is still of great benefit to know the meaning of words on first sight, rather than working out their meaning based on their context - this will give you greater confidence in the answers you settle on, and also mean you can work your way through the passage quicker, giving you more time to re-read the passage and double-check your answers. The contextual clues are helpful, but there are several hundred words you should know before going into the test. Words such as austere, demur and ubiquitous all commonly make an appearance for example, so using the online resources available, find the most up to date listing of the most popular 200-400 SAT words used. Memorizing and familiarizing yourself with these words will put you in better position to ace your SAT Verbal section.

4. Evaluate and Analyze

Once you have gone through a few of SAT test practices, understand where the errors consistently appear, why this is the case, and how you can avoid the errors in the official test. There are several reasons why this might be the case: general carelessness in your answers, time-management, content (i.e. meaning of words), or perhaps your test strategy. Examples of carelessness include not looking at the question carefully enough, merely assuming you know what the question is asking before you’ve finished reading it, and rushing to answer it. You might also try to save time by answering based on your memory of the passage - however, always refer back to the passage before you make your answer, even if it’s just for a quick confirmation.

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