The Best Reading Techniques For The SAT
The Best Reading Techniques for the SAT
Here, we’ve constructed a list of the most successful techniques that will help you on the SAT reading section. The purpose of these techniques is to raise your scores and your level of self-confidence while taking the exam.
Techniques for SAT Reading #1: Work towards the Elimination of Incorrect Answers
One of the most essential techniques for the SAT (and for any exam) is the process of elimination. By using evidence found in the text, you should be able to rule out three incorrect answer choices out of the four given, and therefore, determine the one absolutely correct response. It is easier said than done though. It is crucial to work on this technique during your practice. Once you get good at this method, you’ll see that even the toughest questions on the SAT become easier.
Keep in mind that everything is detail oriented. Cross out any answer choices that are comprised of information that is not consistent with the information given in the passage. Occasionally, you will need to look beyond a particular set of lines in order to obtain some extra clarity. Usually the few lines before and after the line(s) of interest will tell you what you need to know.
One type of answer that can usually be eliminated right away is the ‘extreme’ or ‘all-or-none’ type of answer. Also, it can be useful to respond to questions that appear to be very difficult by trying to put it into your own words. By doing this, you will give yourself a general idea of the correct answer and will become less likely to select a close incorrect answer which is a little off the mark.
Techniques for SAT Reading #2: Discover a Great Passage Reading Strategy
Prior to sitting for the SAT, it’s vital to know precisely what approach you are going to take while reading the passages. In order to avoid getting panicky or running out your time limit while taking the exam, you need a strategy that works for you. There are a few different strategies you can use. It is recommended that you take the necessary time to work on each strategy for a bit, so you can figure out which one works for you.
Techniques for SAT Reading #3: Know Where You Went Wrong
A lot of students make the mistake of not analyzing their wrong answers. By not attempting to know where you went wrong with your incorrect answers on the practice tests, you will keep making the same kinds of mistakes. And your score will not increase. It’s time-consuming to go back and analyze the wrong answers, but well worth the effort. Don’t just tell yourself it was a silly mistake and move on. Actually go in-depth regarding where and why you made mistakes so that you can solve the issue on your next.
Kinds of Errors
Error Type #1: Being Pressured by the Time Limit
There are two scenarios that can happen here:
- Running out of time with lots of unanswered questions left.
- Finishing too quickly and getting a lot of questions wrong.
If you’re running out of time, you probably have to work on your reading strategy more. If you’re going to fast, you need to slow down and read the passage more slowly. Too often, students will blaze through the passage and not even understand (or remember) what they just read. This is why practicing a lot is so important. You can work out all your speed issues during practice. I always recommend to complete 30 minutes of reading passage practice every single day during your SAT prep.
Error Type #2: Not Understanding the Question Properly
Sometimes the questions presented to are going to be convoluted, vague, or just plain hard to understand. Make sure you reread the question to get the full grasp of what it’s asking. Pay attention to details like “against” or “for” in questions that ask you to pick a choice that is for or against a statement. Sometimes, students skim a question so quickly, that they can miss this sort of thing. I remember that I used to make this mistake often – missing questions like “which of the following is NOT true”. Trying to paraphrase the question can also help you understand it better.
Error Type #3: Lack of Vocabulary
Now, the SAT is no longer focusing on exotic and rare vocabulary, but, you still have to be able to read at the college level. There are still plenty of ‘difficult’ words that you have to know. For example, words like: psyche, ethos, provocative, and eschew. If you find that a lot of the passages are going over your head, the best way to practice is by reading well-written articles from good sources. We’ve compiled a reading list of passages that you can practice from. Try to read at least one passage every day. If you know that you don’t like a particular type of passage, for example, literature passages, then make sure to practice reading those more.
Error Type #4: Getting Distracted During Long Passages
Sometimes, as you read the passage, your mind starts to wander. You start paying attention to the noises coming from outside, your crush from school, the upcoming party, etc. You get distracted. Then you jump back into the passage. This happens to so many students, especially nowadays when all of our attention span is already low. The way to prevent this from happening is to work on your concentration. My way to deal with this was to simply read long passages all the time. I got myself used to reading and having to focus for long amounts of time without distractions. Keep all your distractions (cell phones and laptops) in another room while you’re practicing for the SAT.