SAT Reading Practice | Our Guide to What You Can Do to Boost Your Score

Why is SAT that hard? Can you miss questions on the SAT and still get close to the 1600 mark? Can you pass the SAT reading test without studying or practicing? Can SAT reading practice put you in a better position of passing the test?

It is not uncommon for students to feel unprepared and unfocused when doing the SAT reading section. Sometimes, a student may find it challenging to complete reading the SAT reading passages because they may be long and tedious. Additionally, it would help if you managed your time well to read all the passages and correctly answer them. 

So, which SAT reading strategies can you employ to pass the test? Do you know any SAT reading section tips?

Do not fret. Here, we will offer you the best practices that you can employ while preparing for the test. Additionally, we reviewed the best SAT prep courses that you can use to hack the test. 

SAT Reading Practice – Boost Your SAT Reading Score

If you are struggling with a low score in the test, worry no more as you are not alone. Several students struggle with the section simply because they don’t know how to tackle it. The reading section has an 800 score, which you get by combining writing and individual reading scores. 

Getting an excellent score in the SAT reading test is not a walk in the park. It would help if you came up with a practical SAT reading strategy to combine with your hard work to get the perfect score. 

Before you can go any further on the reading practice, you need first to understand the basics. Why do you need to get that high score in the test?

According to the current SAT, the 25th percentile in the reading and writing section is 630. The average is 665, while the 75th percentile is 700. The admission rate of American universities is 31.5%. That means, of 100 students who apply for admission, only 32 get admitted. 

With such a cut-throat competition, you cannot get the chance with an average score. You need to put your best foot forward to ensure that you don’t just score, but you get a perfect score. The better the score, the more probability you have of getting admitted.

As you look for materials to practice for the test, ensure that they are reliable and high-quality materials.

Here are trusted SAT prep books that will guide you on how to improve SAT reading scores.

A girl studying

Why Are High-Quality SAT Practice Materials So Important?

There is no shortage of SAT reading practice materials out there. However, you cannot trust all of them to guide you on how to boost your score.

Some of the materials in the market were written by people who never came close to the perfect score in the test. Therefore, you don’t expect them to offer you in-depth and unique strategies that will boost your performance. Low-quality materials can never lead to a better score. 

On the other hand, high-quality SAT practice reading materials are prepared by experts in the field. People who have gone through the test and conquered. The experts understand the format of questions in the reading comprehension test. Therefore, top-quality materials contain items similar to the ones you encounter in the test. They will also be great if you want to take the SAT after high-school as we explained it in detail here.

With that in mind, the test questions will not be a surprise to you. Low-quality materials will not paint a real picture of what to expect, and you will be in for a rude shock when you get to the actual test. 

With the high-quality materials, the passages and the questions are not only in the same format as the real SAT, but they are also on the same difficulty level. 

How To Get The Most From Your SAT Reading Practice Tests 

Your score in the SAT practice reading test is a show of how best your strategies are working and how smart you are. 

As you do the reading test practice, you should take it as if you are sitting for the real test. With that, you will get a clear picture of how much more effort you need to put in. 

If the test is high-quality, it should be tricky, just like the real SAT is. If you read other guide materials, you will be told that you shouldn’t leave a question blank, but you should take a guess. With that, you retain a certain percentage of the probability of still getting the question correct. 

However, your goal is not only to take a wild guess and leave it like that. You want to maximize your score to get admission to your university of choice. Thus, you cannot afford to take random guesses and leave it at that. 

In the SAT, there is one answer among the four multiple choices, that is 100% unambiguously correct. If you want to get the best out of the reading practice test, you need to figure out how to get that right answer. 

First, understand the types of questions that the SAT asks. You can get the format and style of items from various top-rated materials. Secondly, come up with strategies that will help you solve the question. Finally, with a lot of questions so that you can identify your mistakes and work on them. 

Also, have the confidence that you can make it. SAT can be overwhelming if you are not well prepared or if you haven’t studied well. As such, use the best sat reading tips and aim for perfection, and your results will reflect your hard work.

So, how many reading passages are on the SAT?

You will find five reading passages in the reading section. You will have 65 minutes to read the passages, review them, and answer the 52 questions. Among the five questions, two are short reading passages that carry individual questions and some combined ones. 

Each reading passage differs from the others in terms of purpose and the subjects that they cover. Some passages tell a story, while others explain a concept. Some passages are more challenging than others.

The following are types of passages in the SAT reading test:

General Passages

Just like the name suggests, general passages concentrate on general ideas or knowledge. There is no specific topic that you would expect from this. The questions that you would expect from this passage include:

  •  Big picture

The question will require you to look at the main idea or theme that the sats reading comprehension carries. You will have to think of the whole passage instead of a portion of it. 

Here, the SAT will make it tricky for you by including words similar to those in the comprehension but don’t reflect the main idea. 

  •  Little picture

The answers to this question will come from specific parts of the comprehension. To tackle the answers correctly, you need to learn the skill of skimming through the passage. 

  •  Inference 

Inference questions will require you to come up with a conclusion based on the message in the passage. Be careful as the conclusion is implied but not explicitly stated. You need to engage more critical thinking and analysis to get the suggested message. 

  •  Vocabulary

Here, you will be asked for the meaning of a word depending on its use.

Social sciences passages

The sats reading comprehension section can also contain a social science passage. The passage may include sociology, psychology, or economy. 

The comprehension is informative, and the writer tries to convince you about a particular point of view. It can be dense with vocabularies and rambling sentences. 

A girl taking a book from the shelf

When tackling the questions in the social sciences passages, go for the positive. Also, look out for any tables, graphs, charts, etc. you can use the information represented by the graphics to support your point. 

Additionally, look out for words such as hence and consequently, which may show cause and effect. Also, take note if there are any opposing arguments. 

When reading the passage, first skim through it and then read it carefully. Tackle one question at a time, and if you can’t understand the question well, skip it and do the easy ones first. 

Natural sciences passages 

You can expect topics such as physics, biology, chemistry, or environmental science in the natural sciences passages. The primary purpose of the natural sciences passages is to inform.

You don’t have to worry if you don’t know much about the subjects as the passage doesn’t test your prior knowledge of the topics. 

If you want to ace the natural passages questions, pay attention to its structure. Since the purpose of the comprehension is to inform, consider looking for the main idea that each paragraph carries. Common transitional words such as “consequently” or “on the other hand” will help point out when a point is being expounded. 

As you do your SAT reading comprehension practice with the natural passages, take better note of the structure rather than the details. There are so many details in the comprehension that it might be a challenge for you to remember them. 

If you take note of the structure, it will be easier for you to come back to any specific paragraph and look for the answer. 

In this passage, you will require more time to answer the questions. Since you are reading for structure rather than details, you should practice skimming through the course. That will leave you with enough time to come back and look for the answers to questions. 

Natural science passages

Humanities passages

A person reading

The humanities SAT reading comprehension is both informative and has a purpose. It covers a wide range of topics such as ethics, conflict, traditions, etc. 

It can come in the form of a speech or an essay. Even if you don’t know the historian who gives the speech or the author of the essay, it is easy to relate to the topic. You need to keep in mind that you have to understand the intended purpose of the passage while doing the test. 

The social science passage can have an exciting topic or one you consider uninteresting. If the topic piques your interest, you will be able to concentrate on the course. If it isn’t, you will have a challenge focusing. 

As such, it would help if you skim through the passage as you will be coming back when answering questions. You may not get everything when you pace through the comprehension, but you’ll get an idea of where to get the details when looking for answers. 

The humanities comprehension can also be dense. As you read it, it would help to look out for the purpose and tone. If you come across a dense sentence, don’t waste your time trying to understand it. Skim through it and try to put in your own words what the sentence is talking about. 

Literature passages 

The literature passage can be a story from the US or any other part of the world. It will be the first comprehension you’ll come across while doing your SAT reading practice or the real test. 

The story's language is not the hardest; neither is it taken from a children’s storybook. If the story is very engaging, as it is the case sometimes, don’t get carried away. After all, you still need time to come back and answer the questions. 

So, how do you hack the literature passage?

First, take a keen note of the intro information. It contains background information about the story and may also include information about the characters. 

Please take note of the characters and try to describe them in your own words as you read through. Your description should be based on how the author paints them or their personalities. Then, note how the characters relate to each other. 

Finally, note the turning point of the story as it helps you to get the main point.

a girl reading on the sofa

Use Strict Timing

When doing your reading comprehension practice test, you must use the official SAT timing. Ensure you have enough time for reading and understanding passages and questions and answering them. 

The section takes 65 minutes. With 52 questions, you have about 75 seconds to answer any question. Try your best to stick to the limit. Do the simple questions first as they will take less time. You can come back later to tackle the challenging problems with the extra time you have left. 

Managing your time well in the SAT practicing reading is a strategy that will significantly raise your score. Therefore, you can master the skill and use it in the real test. 

Review the mistakes you make

The aim of the sats reading comprehension practice is not just to learn the format of the test. It is also an excellent way of identifying the mistakes that you make. 

After you are done with the reading comprehension practice, go back and analyze the questions that you got right and the ones you were wrong. 

What tips for reading comprehension did you use for the questions that you got correct?

Also, review why you got a question wrong. Knowing the mistakes that you make helps you to rectify the errors in the future. Don’t skip an answer you got incorrect without knowing the error you made. Avoiding the mistake in the future is a sure strategy on how to improve SAT reading performance.

Don’t Forget to Take a complete SAT 

Don’t just practice with the reading section of the SAT. It is also an excellent idea if you can take a complete SAT practice. That gives you an idea of how best you can prepare for every section and react to the several hours of sitting for a test. 

various books collection

Final Thoughts

Thorough preparation for the SAT reading is an excellent strategy that can help you raise your score significantly. You need to understand how many passages in SAT reading you will come across to plan your time well. Also, know what you expect from every course and the best way to tackle it.

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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