Two SAT Reading Test Strategies You Need
Two Proven Strategies
There are two strategies that will help you ace the SAT reading test. These are strategies that have been used and proven to work on many different standardized exams, not just the SAT. They allow you to quickly get through a passage of any length in a timely manner, while being able to retain information and answer key questions. Try both of these strategies to see which one works best for you.
This method is great if you have plenty of time to practice it and get fast at it. This method is designed to get you to be able to effectively approach a passage and be able to answer any question related to it, successfully. As you may have guessed, it involves you actively reading – making notes on key facts and figures, highlighting, etc.
1) Be able to recognize key words or phrases, examples, important statistics, and the author’s opinions (if present). When you read a paragraph, put a circle or square around the following items if they are present:
- Key Words or Phrases: Conclusive words or phrases such as: therefore, thus, in short, in conclusion, to summarize
- Compare and contrast words or phrases such as: however, on one hand, on the other hand, but, instead
- Metaphors such as: “break a leg”
- Extremely difficult words (that you have not heard of)
- Examples for or against the main topic
- Statistics: numbers and percentages
- The author’s opinion on something
Do this for each and every paragraph as you’re reading through the passage.
2) After you finish reading a paragraph, write a one (very brief) sentence (or even one word) summary of that entire paragraph on your scrap sheet beside the number corresponding to that paragraph. Do this for each paragraph!
3) After you finish reading the whole passage and doing all the above things, do the following:
- Write down what you think the main theme or message of the passage is (again, make it very brief)
- Write down what you think the opinion of the author is: Is the author for or against the argument?
- The general mood of the author: Was the article criticizing? Was the author neutral, excited, angry, hateful, informative, inspiring, etc? You can do this by even placing a small doodle: a smiley face if you think the author’s general mood was happy or supportive; an angry face if you believe the author was bitter, very critical, or completely opposed to the argument; and so on.
Completing these steps will help you answer most of the questions quite easily. It takes a bit of practice to get good at this method, but it works – and you will see a dramatic improvement on your scores! You will also feel calm on the real test because you know you’ve prepared yourself to be able to tackle any kind of passage the SAT reading test throws at you.
Seek and Destroy Method:
This method is great if you don’t have a lot of time to practice and/or you simply don’t like the strategy above.
This method requires you to NOT read the passage first – just go straight to the Questions! This method works especially well for fact finding questions on the SAT.
1. You read a question and you determine whether it is a fact-finding question or if it is a tone/inference style question.
- If it is a fact-finding question – immediately start skimming through the passage to find the section with the relevant information. Read that full paragraph quickly. You should be able to answer most fact-finding questions like this. If you can’t find the answer after skimming through quickly, don’t keep searching for it – make a note of where you saw the relevant information and just move on to the next question. If you are skimming through a paragraph and you realize that you have found the answer to a previously skipped question, go back to that question and answer it immediately before continuing with the current question.
- If it is a tone/inference question – just skip it for now and do it after you have completed all the fact-finding questions.
2. Keep repeating this until you have gone through all the questions. If you have skipped questions:
- First, go back to the skipped fact-finding questions and try to find the answer to them again – try to skim the couple of lines in the paragraphs before and after the section with relevant information if you still can’t find the answer.
- By the time you have finished answering all the fact-finding questions you will have read almost the whole passage and have a pretty good idea as to what it is about, the tone, and overall theme. Now, you should attempt the tone/inference style questions. You should be able to answer most of them now. If you find that you still can’t answer one of these types of questions, it is best to make a guess and move on.
In my opinion, the annotation strategy is superior to seek and destroy strategy. The first strategy will really help you master the skill of reading critically and that will help you tackle any type of passage the SAT reading test throws at you. You will feel very well prepared before going into the exam if you master this method.