How to Approach Paired Passages on SAT® Reading

How to Approach Paired Passages on SAT® Reading
Tackle paired passages with the right approach to improve on the SAT reading section. Exercise ample reading, breaking down questions and answering in a structured order to increase efficiency.
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How to Approach Paired Passages on SAT® Reading
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What is a paired passage?

Two of the five passages you will encounter in the Reading section of the SAT® exam are questioned as a pair. This means that there will be a set of questions that require you to compare the passages or make connections between the two texts in order to answer them. The purpose of these passages is to assess your ability to compare, contrast, or consider a dialogue between two authors or opinions. You can expect the questions about the paired passages to be focused on the authors’ writing styles or opinions.

We have some tips for taking on these paired passages.

How to Approach a Paired Passage

Read the Questions First

You should know that a paired passage is either a history or a science passage. When you come across a passage that is either of these types, check to see if it has a pair. By reading the questions before you read the passage, you will know in advance that some of the questions ask about more than one passage.

Break the Questions Into Three Categories 

Establishing three categories of questions will effectively guide the order you choose to answer them. There are questions about Passage #1, questions about Passage #2, and questions about both passages. You should make a note of which questions go with which passage(s). This is very helpful for the next step.

The Order That You Read and Answer Is Important

Once you know that the passage you are reading has a pair, have read the questions that will follow, and made a note of which questions go with which passage(s), you should read Passage #1. After reading Passage #1, find the questions that only talk about that first passage. Do not save questions about Passage #1 for after you have read Passage #2. Instead, answer the questions while their correlating passage is still fresh in your mind.

Once you have completed the questions for the first passage, read the second one and answer the questions that only ask about Passage #2. Again, you want to tackle the passage-specific questions right after reading.

You should complete the questions that ask about both passages last. This is because you will have had many chances to understand the passages as individuals before being asked to make inferences about their relationship or make connections.

As you prepare for the Reading section of the SAT test, don’t panic about the paired passages. These sets are completely manageable, and by following these steps for reading and answering them, you are sure to succeed. You can practice the paired passages using UWorld’s SAT Prep course with lots of sample passages and thousands of practice questions! Whether you are looking to improve your scores, make a study plan, or track your time management, these tips are sure to boost your performance!

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