College PrepSATSAT Reading

SAT® Reading Literature Passage Tips

What to Expect From the Literature Passages 

The literature passage in the Reading section of the SATⓇ exam is a fictional text pulled from a book or story. You can expect one literature passage in the five different passages you will encounter during the SAT test. Here are some skills to practice to maximize your reading potential for this passage type!

Tips to Read Literature Passages Effectively

Pay Attention to the Characters 

You will need to pay attention to the main idea, small details, and writing technique in all of the passage types. For the literature passages, you will continue to look at the main idea, small details, and writing techniques while also tracking the story’s plot, the characters and their relationships, and paying special attention to the mood.

As you read, you can make notes when significant dialogue occurs, internal thoughts or feelings are revealed or hinted at, and descriptions about a character take place. This kind of active reading is very helpful to save time as you search for evidence later, and improve your reading comprehension.

Track the Emotions

The literature passage may be followed by questions that ask about the mood. The mood is the effect a specified word or phrase has on the reader. As you read, be sure to track shifts in the characters’ feelings and emotions while also paying attention to lines that trigger your own emotions. The mood can be created by descriptions throughout the story or through word choice. You will have to answer questions about the author’s technique, and making a note of the descriptions that shift the mood will help you later.

Don’t Ignore the Plot

Sometimes, it can be easy to ignore the story’s action while paying attention to all of the details. An easy way to stay focused on the plot is to pay attention to the transitions in the passage. Emotional transitions, like a shift in mood or tone, can pinpoint important moments in the plot: pay attention to the actions that trigger these shifts. This can help create a map of what is happening throughout the story. 

Whether you want to improve your time management or boost your scores, these tips are sure to help you navigate the literature passages effectively and with confidence. As you prepare for the Reading section of the SAT exam, you can practice these tips. Check out UWorld’s SAT prep course for lots of sample passages and practice questions to help you prepare and maximize your scores!