The SAT Reading Test can be daunting for those who consider themselves “slow” readers. Most passages would cover about 2-3 pages of a novel assigned for English class, and if you’re pacing yourself well on the SAT Reading Test, you’re getting through one of these passages in 3-3.5 minutes. While reading more methodically is not a bad thing if you’re preparing for a test or essay, it’s going to get you in trouble on the SAT Reading section where time is of the essence! Whether you consider yourself a “slow” reader or not, the tips below will help you become a more efficient reader on the SAT Reading Test.
SAT Slow Reader Tip #1: Skim over details, and focus on the main point.
Some denser passages will be filled with numerous dates, names, places, or other details that are similarly not essential to the main point. You can ignore these because if a question asks about them, you can simply refer back to the passage to find what you need. Remember that the SAT is like an open-book test. Instead, pay attention to ideas that express the main point.
SAT Slow Reader Tip #2: Read the first half of the passage more carefully.
If you’re taking 4+ minutes to read an SAT passage, you might be focusing on less essential information. Read to understand the main idea, which will come in the first half of any non-Literature passage. You can skim the rest and reread second-half parts more carefully if needed to answer a question.
SAT Slow Reader Tip #3: Pay attention to three important parts of a passage.
If you’re taking 5+ minutes to read an SAT passage, this tip is for you! Instead of reading the passage word for word, you will likely get more out of it if you skim three important parts: the introduction, first 1-2 sentences of any body paragraphs, and the conclusion. You will get necessary background on the topic from the introduction, an overview of passage content from the topic sentences, and often a reiteration of the main idea in the conclusion. Note that this approach won’t work for Literature passages because their structures tend to be less organized. Reading just these bare essentials will give you more time to tackle the questions and read further into parts of the passage needed to answer a question.