SAT READING: CRACKING THE PASSAGES
SAT READING: CRACKING THE PASSAGES
You read every day. From street signs to novels to the back of the cereal box, you spend a good part of your day recognizing written words. So this test should be pretty easy, right?
Unfortunately, "SAT Reading" is different from "real life reading." In real life, you read passively. Your eyes go over the words, the words go into your brain, and some stick and some don't. On the SAT, you have to read actively, which means trying to find specific information to answer specific questions. Once you've found the information you need, you have to understand what it's actually saying.
Another problem is that SAT Reading can be very different from the reading you do in school. Often, in an English class, you are asked to give your own opinion, supported by the text. You might have to explain how Scout Finch and Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird are, metaphorically speaking, mockingbirds. Or explain who is actually responsible for the tragedies in Romeo and Juliet. On the SAT, however, there is no opinion. You don't have the opportunity to justify why your answer is the right one. That means there is only one right answer, so your job is to find it. It's the weirdest scavenger hunt ever.
Read five passages and answer 10 or 11 questions for each passage (or set of passages). Get as many points as you can.
Okay…so how do you get those points? Let's start with ETS's instructions for the Reading Test.
Each passage or pair of passages below is followed by a number of questions. After reading each passage or pair, choose the best answer to each question based on what is stated or implied in the passage or passages and in any accompanying graphics (such as a table or graph).
Great news! This is an open-book test. Notice the directions say, "based on what is stated or implied in the passage." This means ETS is NOT testing to see that you have read, studied, and become an expert on the Constitution, The Great Gatsby, or your biology textbook. All ETS cares about is whether or not you can read a text and understand it well enough to correctly answer some questions about it. Unlike the Math or Writing and Language Tests, there are no formulas to memorize or comma rules to learn in the Reading Test. You just need to know how to approach the text and the questions/answers in order to maximize accuracy and efficiency. It's all about the text! (No thinking!)
Another awesome thing about an open-book test is that you don't have to waste time reading every single word of the passage and trying to become an expert on whatever the topic is. You have the passage right there in front of you. So, move back and forth between the passage and the questions, focusing only on what you need instead of getting mired down in all the little details.
You will get all five of the reading passages at the same time, so use that to your advantage. Take a quick look through the whole section and figure out the best order for you to do the passages. Depending on your target score, you may be able to skip an entire passage or two, so figure out which passages are likely to get you the most points.
1. Type of passage: You'll have one literature passage and two each of science and history/social studies. If you like to read novels and short stories, the literature passage may be a good place to start. If you prefer nonfiction, you might consider doing the science and history/social studies first.2. Topic of passage: The blurb will give you some basic information about the passage that may help you decide whether to do the passage or skip it.3. Types of questions: Do the questions have a good number of Line References and Lead Words? Will you be able to find what you're looking for relatively quickly, or will you have to spend more time wading through the passage to find what you want?
Don't forget: On any questions or passages that you skip, always fill in your LOTD!