sat reading tips

5 Must-Know SAT Reading Tips

Pacing for SAT Reading can be challenging. Whether you’ve been studying for months and are just looking for a few new suggestions to help you earn more points or you haven’t touched a book yet and are taking the test tomorrow, the last minute advice below will help you through the SAT Reading section.

[See also: the Top 5 SAT Math Tips]

[And here’s: the Top 5 SAT Writing Tips]

SAT Reading Tip #1: Don’t spend too much time reading the passage.

The SAT Reading Test is 65 minutes long and contains 5 passages with associated questions. This means you need to spend 13 minutes per passage on average. You should plan to read through an SAT passage in about 5 minutes. If you spend longer than 5 minutes reading, you will likely be compromising your time on the questions. If you spend fewer than 5 minutes reading, you risk missing important information. Read the passage through once to get the main idea, then move onto the questions.

SAT Reading Tip #2: Begin with the easiest passages.

On the SAT, you will encounter passages in US & World Literature, History and Social Studies, and Science. There is no rule that says you must complete the passages in the order that they are presented to you. Take charge and begin with the passage type that is easiest for you.

SAT Reading Tip #3: Answer easier questions first.

Every passage will have a range of difficulty in its questions. If you’re stumped on a passage, try finding quick, easy questions to answer. Easier questions might ask about vocab words or have line references that you can quickly locate in the text. Once you answer these, you’ll have a better understanding of the passage and can tackle the harder ones with less pressure.

SAT Reading Tip #4: If you’re zoning out, change the way you’re sitting and try again.

Even top scorers will find themselves losing focus at times on test day, but that’s not a reason to panic. If you’ve been reading a passage with upright posture, try slouching a little or leaning to one side as you read. If you’ve been slouching, sit up straight. A simple adjustment like this can help you refocus on the task at hand and finish reading the passage or answering the question.

SAT Reading Tip #5: If you’re going to skip a question to try later, put a guess down anyway.

There’s no wrong answer penalty on the SAT, so you should make sure you answer every single question. If you need to skip a question, put a star next to it in your test booklet and enter a temporary guess on your answer grid on the off-chance you don’t have time to come back to it later. You don’t want to be scrambling to put guesses to your skipped questions as time is runending out.

Ready to test your knowledge? Try some practice questions!