The reading section in the New SAT is a 52 question test within 65 minutes. It is a half of the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section. In effect, you will have a little more than an hour to read five passages and answer questions based on them. The passages themselves can range from a variety of topics like history, social studies, literature and natural sciences. Each passage will have questions that will test you on all kinds of questions. These questions could be about the meaning of a particular word, author’s intention in the passage or even reference based questions about graphs.
Basically, you need to be prepared to face all kinds of questions on five passages that test you on your ability to read, comprehend, correlate and answer questions. All this in a flat 65 minutes of time! Phew! Put like this, it sounds a little stressful. But, it is really not, if you know how to crack this section.
In this blogpost, we will look into some of these tips that make is easier for you to crack the reading section. We will look at these tips from the point of view of your prep before the SAT and during the SAT.
Pre SAT Reading Prep
No matter what exam you are sitting for, the prep before the D-Day makes a huge impact. Since we are discussing SAT reading section, the most important prep you need to do is to Read. It is as simple as that! What to read, when to read and how much to read, definitely form important parts of this prep.
Know What You are Up Against
It is always a good practice to know what you are up against. The SAT reading test is no exception to this rule too. Spend some time to understand the reading test, the logic behind it and the way it impacts your personal choice of further studies. College Board gives a detailed overview of the SAT reading section. Do check this out.
Read, Read and Read
Psychologically speaking, you perform better in things that you know or are comfortable with. Same holds true for reading too. The SAT reading section has five passages. That’s a lot of reading. Unless you are comfortable reading and comprehending passages in general, it will not come easy on the D-Day. Make it a habit to read on a daily basis. Not just for the purpose of SAT. Make your reading a channel to be comfortable in comprehending.
This will go a long way.
While Reading, Read All Kinds
The SAT reading section has five passages from diverse subjects like history, literature, natural sciences and social studies. If all you have ever read profusely is only John Grisham and Jeffery Archer, reading and answering questions from Hamlet in your SAT is not going to be easy. Read a variety of text as a habit much before the SAT. It will improve your comfort with the language. A bonus is it will make you more knowledgeable. A mighty important thing to have in life! Few types of text you should definitely include in your reading is
19th century literature,
Articles on sciences (applied, physics, biology, technical, all kinds of science),
Opinions found in editorials of popular magazines.
In a nutshell, read a lot and read wide.
Your reading speed makes a huge difference to your performance on the SAT reading section. After all, you’ve got to answer 52 questions based on 5 passages in 65 minutes. That’s definitely a pressure test! You will only add more pressure to your test, if you read too fast or read too slow. So, much before your SAT, assess your reading speed and work towards improving it. One way to know your ideal reading speed is to check your retention. What you have to do is read a passage in certain time and write down the essence of the passage in 5 sentences. In short, these 5 sentences should sum up the passage without diluting the meaning or intention of the author. Whatever time you can do this is your ideal reading speed. So work in a way that the speed aids you to score better.
These are some basic things to do in gearing up towards you SAT reading section.
SAT Test Day Reading Tips
All the prep stands on one side and your state of mind on the SAT test day will stand on the other side. A strong prep definitely will boost your state of mind. The following tips will help you translate your state of mind to solid scores!
If you have practiced reading, improved your speed and have a decent ability to summarize a passage, then on the SAT test, skim through the passages. You do not have to necessarily read each and every word. A skim through will help you get all the details you need to answer the questions.
Mark and Make Notes
The SAT passages are not the most interesting things you will read. On the contrary, they might be some of the most boring passages you will ever read. Mark sections of the passages that carry the main idea. Make notes while reading. This will help you find your answers quick. Plus, marking and making notes will keep you from falling asleep!
Pick and Choose to Answer
Questions in the reading section are not in the order of difficulty. They are placed randomly. You don’t have to answer the questions in a chronological order too. Be thoughtfully random! What I mean is if you are finding a particular question tough to answer, don’t get stuck. Move on, answer the easier ones. Pick and choose all the easy ones first. You can get back to the tough ones later.
Do not Hesitate to Guess
The new SAT does not penalize for guessing. In case you are left with a bunch of questions that are difficult to answer, do not hesitate to take a guess. You have nothing to lose. If it’s a lucky day, you might actually guess right.
The most important thing to do on the test is to stay calm and focused. Every time you feel rushed, scattered in your mind or tensed, remember to breathe! It will get you back on the track in no time.