Today I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 SAT Reading tips that will definitely help you increase your SAT reading score. Without further ado, here are my “Top 10 SAT Reading Tips!”
10) Commit to a long-term vocab study plan.
If you have 8 weeks or more to do your SAT prep, daily vocabulary study is one of the absolute BEST SAT Reading tips I can give you to raise your score in the long run – the difference between knowing a little vocab and knowing a lot of vocab can add up to hundreds of points.
Tough words show up in the reading, in the questions, and in the answers, so it’s really important to know a lot of words.
I put all my best SAT vocab tips in my Conquer SAT Vocabulary video course so enroll today if you want to learn more!
9) Read every day about things you are interested in, and regularly practice speed reading with effective software.
Another one of my SAT Reading tips: daily reading from magazines or books that you enjoy (say, 15-30 minutes a day outside of school) will improve your reading speed, comprehension, and ability to figure out vocabulary from context.
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A proven speed-reading program like Ace Reader and a regular practice schedules of 15 minutes every other day can make a world of difference in your confidence and double or triple your reading speed.
8) Figure out ahead of time how many questions you’re going to skip.
You can skip questions and still get a TON of points in the Reading section; you only need to attempt all the questions if you’re going for a 700-800 range score.
This is one of those SAT reading tips that many students and parents are unaware of: 600+ scores are attainable even if you skip 15-20 reading questions throughout the test, which means you only have to answer about 3 out of every 4 questions…
Don’t believe me? Look in the scoring charts at the end of a test in the (blue book)!
7) Get used to the SAT Critical Reading time pressure.
Without extensive practice in the SAT Reading section, students can feel really pressured to finish on time, especially because they don’t know what to expect and don’t know how to budget their time.
One of the best reading tips I can give you is to get experience with the timing by using REAL SAT sections from The Official SAT Study Guide and a stopwatch. Practice with your friends, and you can trade off stopwatch duties!
6) Answer in your own words before looking at the answer choices, whenever possible.
I give this SAT Reading tip to all my tutoring students: the more independent, critical thought you give the question, before worrying about the (confusing) answer choices, the better your odds of eliminating wrong answers and identifying the best choice. This goes for both the reading comprehension AND the vocabulary questions.
5) Practice your own form of note-taking.
Every student should be taking at least SOME notes on any passage longer than a paragraph. I recommend using this SAT Critical Reading note-taking strategy, but even if you don’t want to use my exact method, having some plan for note-taking is crucial to get your highest SAT Critical Reading score.
4) Spend less time on the SAT vocabulary questions.
When it comes to the definition of a word on the SAT, either you know it or you don’t. That’s why you should do your SAT vocabulary study way ahead of time (see SAT reading tip #10 above)
You’re not suddenly going to figure out a word you’ve never seen before, and the words are often chosen to trick those who try. Your better move is to get on to the reading passages.
SAT tutor pro tip: A minute per question is too much time to spend in the vocab section; aim for 30-45 seconds.
Consider enrolling in my Conquer SAT Vocabulary video course for an entire course of more tips to help with your reading and vocab skills!
3) Identify what type of passage you’re reading and get introductory info using the blurb.
Here’s the bronze-medal winner of my SAT Reading tips: always read the italics at the top of the passage to get an idea of what you’re going to be reading about.
It’s smart to classify the reading passage, so you know what to pay attention to while you read – is it natural science, social science, fiction, non-fiction, etc?
Sometimes the italics don’t give you a whole lot of information, but other times you will get an extremely helpful overview of the article that will increase your comprehension and your points in the reading section.
2) Read for the “right stuff.”
The silver-medal recipient of my SAT Reading tips is a little more in-depth, but bear with me, because it’s important.
You don’t want to get caught up reading for trivial details; instead, use my experience to your advantage and read for the same points that I do:
When confronted with NATURAL SCIENCE , HISTORY, or SOCIAL SCIENCE passages, read for a) the main topic, b) the author’s perspective and tone, c) any alternate theories or perspectives from people besides the author, and d) any conclusions.
When confronted by fiction or non-fiction STORIES, read for a) info about the narrator and/or main character, b) info about any other characters and their personalities, c) the relationships between the characters, d) setting (time and place),e) the plot, and f) any turning points.
Here’s a special SAT Critical Reading tip that’s especially important when you’re reading stories: keep track (another good reason to take notes) of any memories, dreams, or imaginary scenes the characters might be in the middle of – the SAT passages like to play with tricky transitions between present, past, and future.
1) Learn to identify wrong answers in the Critical Reading section.
This is hands-down my NUMBER ONE SAT READING TIP:
Time spent understanding your own wrong answers is AT LEAST as valuable as time spent doing practice questions.
It’s more important to fix your mistakes than to keep practicing the things you already do right. (Ask any teacher, sports coach, or tutor, and they’ll agree)
That’s it – my list of the Top 10 SAT Reading tips!
They’re time- and experience- tested, so make sure you spend some time on each of them!
Enroll in my Conquer SAT Vocabulary video course for 2 hours of high-definition video and other materials to help you boost your SAT verbal score!