Tip 5: Read Passages Strategically

Tip 5: Read Passages Strategically

Try to nail down a good passage reading strategy for the SAT before test day. This will save you time and stress later. There are a few methods you might use depending on how comfortable you are with the test and where you are in your reading comprehension skills.

Method 1: Skim the Passage First
This is the method I would be most inclined to recommend. You can get a sense of the main ideas of the passage without wasting too much time reading it closely. To skim effectively, just read the introductory paragraph, conclusion paragraph, and first and last sentences of each body paragraph.

Answer main idea questions first while the overall point of the passage is still fresh in your mind. Then you can read specific sections of the passage more closely as needed to answer questions about smaller details.

Method 2: Skip Straight to the Questions
Because the SAT gives you line numbers for questions on the Reading section, skipping the passage altogether can be an effective initial strategy. If you do this, you should answer questions about small details in the passage first, so you end up reading a bit of the passage while answering questions. Then, when you move on to main idea questions later, you’ll already have a solid sense of the message of the passage as a whole.

Method 3: Read the Passage in Full
If you’re both a quick and thorough reader, you might be able to pull this off without any problems. Just make sure it’s not slowing you down. There’s more material to read on the new SAT, so this strategy might be less feasible than it was in the past.

If you’re reading this way and find you can save a few minutes (and not lose any points) by using one of the other methods, then you should do that instead. It’s always better to have extra time at the end so you can double-check your answers!

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