SAT Critical Reading Tips: Finish On Time

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Many of my SAT tutoring students come to me with questions about how to finish the SAT Critical Reading section within the allotted time limit.

My first bit of advice is – DON’T rush.

If you’re rushing through the SAT Critical Reading, you’ll make a bunch of careless mistakes.

Instead, slow down, answer less questions, and get more correct answers; also, practice with the SAT Blue Book.

However, there are some tips and tricks I can recommend to you in order to finish the SAT Critical Reading section in the time limit.


Tips for finishing the SAT Critical Reading on time:

1) Budget your time:

Flip through the section to budget your time. Note approximately how many vocab questions there are and how long the reading passages are. This takes less than 10 seconds.

2) Know your SAT vocab skill level:

If vocab is not your strongest suit, then plan to leave some of these questions blank and get on to the reading. Blind guessing is NOT a good move on the vocab. You can easily improve your reading score by studying from what I’ve found to be the best SAT vocabulary list.

3) Don’t dawdle on vocabulary:

Get to passages fast, don’t dawdle on vocabulary. This is a CRITICAL READING section, and that’s where most of the points are – in the reading. The vocab sentence completion questions are more like an appetizer than the main course. “Never spend more than 30 seconds at a time on any one vocab question” is my personal philosophy.

4) Be a good note-taker:

Take good notes the first time on the reading passages and focus on reading comprehension.

5) Use elimination-based strategy:

Eliminate ridiculous answers immediately when you get to each question. Generally, between 1 and 3 of the answers will obviously be wrong, if you understood the passage. Knock those off and narrow it down to the answers that deserve your time. Through practice, you can get really good at identifying incorrect answers, which is the easiest and safest way to finish the Critical Reading section on time and with a perfect score. Pick whatever’s left over.

6) Use the evidence like a lawyer would:

Carefully consider remaining answer possibilities and make a decision backed up by evidence read directly from the passage. This is your best possible use of time in the SAT Critical Reading section!

If you’re not ready to decide then come back later. Coming back to a tricky pair of possible answers in a few minutes will sometimes make it 100 times more obvious.

7) Use leftover time to check your work:

Make use of any leftover time to check your sketchy answers or confusing questions.

8) Don’t lose vocab points in the last few seconds:

I don’t recommend trying to figure out vocab questions you didn’t know the first time around… you’re probably not going to suddenly know a vocabulary word that you weren’t familiar with before, and you may even fall into a trap set by the authors of the test. Revisit and check tough reading questions instead.

Summary: The Top Three Uses of Your Time on the SAT Critical Reading Section

3) Sentence completions: Get them done quickly.

2) Reading and note-taking: Focus on first-time comprehension and good, quick note-taking.

1) Careful consideration of non-ridiculous answer choices! Quickly narrow down the possibilities from the 5 answer choices, and hunt for evidence that supports or discredits each choice.

The most important Critical Reading tip I can give you is to be ready ahead of time! Don’t forget to join the mailing list today – it’s the only way to download my exclusive FREE urgent report on the SAT Critical Reading section, written by a pro tutor and perfect-scorer!


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About Christian

Perfect-scorer, pro tutor, entrepreneur, web designer, textbook author, motorcyclist, rock and roll guitarist, classical pianist, songwriter, wanderer, environmentalist, dog lover, cat lover, spicy food addict.


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