College PrepSATSAT Reading

How to Study for the SAT® Reading Test

Looking for ways to study for the Reading Section of the SAT® exam?

Here are some tips to help you succeed:

1. Practice reading quickly

You will have to read five passages and answer 52 questions in 65 minutes. Practice reading quickly and consider skimming if time efficiency is an issue for you. Some students find success by deeply reading the introductions, conclusions, and transition sentences in each paragraph while skimming everything else. You may also streamline your time by reading the questions first and the passages second. Then while reading the passage, you will know which details are most important.

2. Focus on finding evidence

The correct answer is located in the words in front of you, so finding evidence is crucial to practice and improving. Make a habit of finding evidence in the text to ensure you select answers based on the passage itself.

3. Study words with multiple meanings

The “Words in Context” section of the Reading test assesses your ability to recognize how a word is being used. When you are asked to find the synonym to a word, be sure to understand its context first. You can prepare for these kinds of questions by studying vocabulary and evaluating the multiple ways a word may be used. The answer choices for these questions may all be synonyms of the word, but you must understand its context in the passage to answer correctly.

4. Eliminate wrong answers

The process of elimination is an important tool to practice for the Reading section of the SAT exam. Only one of the answer choices is the correct one. Narrow down your options by recognizing the flaws in each wrong choice. If you struggle to find a correct answer, consider finding errors in the answer choices and cut out the wrong ones. 

5. Know basic literary terms

While the Reading test is meant to assess your skills rather than knowledge, you will want to be familiar with fundamental key terms. This will be especially important when answering big picture questions about theme, style, and tone.

6. Get comfortable interpreting data from graphics

Graphics accompany some of the passages in the Reading test. You can practice interpreting data from the graphs, charts, and tables that you will see on the exam through UWorld’s Practice tests or find sample questions on the College Board website.

7. Read

Reading as much as possible can boost your reading comprehension skills and speed. Taking time for critical reading every day may feel excessive, but it is a great way to study and prepare. You should also consider reading across various genres. Remember, the Reading test’s passages include topics in literature, science, and history. The prose and style for these different categories vary, so get comfortable with each of them.

Practice Tests

When studying for the SAT Reading Test, practice exams are a great place to start. Score reports from practice tests can create a valuable baseline for your study plan.

Take a practice exam to make reasonable expectations and goals for improvement within each section of the SAT Exam. Set a target score and focus your time on the weakest areas of your score report.

UWorld’s SAT Prep Course includes detailed performance tracking and explanations for each question. Try it out to get familiar with the SAT exam’s timing, question types, and passages to ultimately improve your score.