• Talal Ali Jan

How tackle the SAT Reading portion.


Although the Math section on the SAT is considered by most students to be more taxing and thus requires much more time investment than the English section, a lot of students eventually suffer due to their lack of English reading skills on the SAT. Time and again, I have been asked by my students to help them "read faster" and to give them tips to be able to grasp the context in a shorter period of time which would enable them to perform better. Keeping their pressing concern in mind, I have made a list of tips for students that struggle with time management on the reading section:


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The reading section on the SAT contains five passages and a total of 52 questions. You will have 65 minutes to complete the reading section; that means a total of 13 min/passage in which you have to read 750-800 words and answer 10-11 questions that follow. To begin with, a student needs to know that the questions at the end of the reading passage would invariably have one right answer, an option that is justifiably different to all the other wrong options. However, the trick played by most examiners to confuse the student is that they ask questions pointing to the most plausible answer, for example; what does the author most "likely" mean to say here or what is the "nearest" outcome to the situation in the passage. Words like these are designed to allow the student to make the mistake of being creative in their interpretations.  To tackle the issue, use a "mark-up strategy": read the passage thoroughly and mark points you think are central to the story theme. Make sure you summarize the passage in a line in your mind before you proceed to the questions. Marking up and summarizing are two extremely helpful techniques which examiners force students to learn and master. These techniques help immensely once you read the questions and revert to the passage again to look for answers. You should understand that comprehending the entire passage thoroughly is of utmost importance; do not try to read the first paragraph and the last paragraph and try to join points yourself. This won’t help!


While reading the options, try to eliminate the ones you think are not likely and pick the option that seems to be more suitable to the central theme than all of them. Remember, the answer you chose at the end should stand out from every other option individually. Once you have chosen an answer, back-it-up with reasoning from the passage. Everything is written in the passage so make sure you have proper evidence to back up your choices.

I am sure by now you would be wondering how would you tackle reading all passages thoroughly within such a short time span. The only way you can successfully manage this in limited time is if you practice the skill of reading. At Brightlink Prep SAT, we suggest students exclusively take time out to read novels, books or even blogs for at least 20 minutes a day. In a span of two months, you will see a huge difference in your ability to grasp information.

Moreover, try to recognize patterns to SAT passage questions, read the past papers and make a list of what type of questions out of a passage are they most likely to give. Some question types include words in context, command of evidence, main idea, tone and attitude, inferences etc. You should know how to handle these questions. If you have a better understanding of question types, you will be in a much better position to handle the questions on the reading section.


Hope this was helpful :)

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