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SAT Secret 8: The SAT Reading Test: Overview

SAT Secret 8: The SAT Reading Test: Overview

The SAT Reading Test assesses your ability to read and interpret a variety of texts similar to the reading you will find in college and your career. All of the questions on the reading test are linked to a passage, a pair of passages, or a passage with an informational graphic or two, such as tables, charts, and graphs. Each reading test consists of five passages with 10 to 11 questions each, for a total of 52 questions. One of the five sets of questions will be about two “paired” shorter passages. You will have 65 minutes to complete the reading test.


Passages on the reading test cover a range of topics under two main text types:

  • Literary, which includes works of fiction from the United States and around the world
  • Informational, which includes science, social science, founding documents, and the great global conversations they inspire

What the questions are asking

The questions on the reading test fall into three main categories:

  • Information and Ideas: Questions that focus on what the passage says, directly or indirectly
  • Rhetoric: Questions that ask about how the author conveys meaning
  • Synthesis: Questions that ask you to draw conclusions and make connections between two related passages or between passages and informational graphics

From the graphic and its accompanying caption, we learn that geographic north on the diagram is represented by 0 degrees and that loggerhead hatchlings swimming in a magnetic field simulating that of a position in the East Atlantic Ocean near the Cape Verde Islands will normally move in a southwesterly direction (around 218 degrees). Putting these bits of information together, we can reasonably infer that if the magnetic field affecting these “East Atlantic” turtles were reversed, the hatchlings would also reverse direction, swimming in a north-easterly direction. The best answer here, then, is choice B.Want to get started? No better time than the present

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