How To Improve SAT Reading

August 28, 2021
By AdmissionSight

How to Improve SAT Reading 

How do you improve on the SAT Reading Section? The SAT Reading section tends to be the most difficult section in the SAT, and many students struggle on the reading comprehension passages every year.

The SAT Reading Section consists of:

  • 52 multiple–choice questions
  • 65 minutes
  • Passages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences)

Most students struggle with this section as  the long passages, windy prose, and difficult vocabulary make reading comprehension like another complex page out of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.


A tale of two cities

Compared to the Math sections, the SAT Reading is much more difficult and has often been the deciding factor preventing students from getting that 1550-1600 SAT score competitive enough to get into the Ivy League.

An easy way to improve on the SAT Reading section is to read lots of short stories, especially American classics like The Sniper, Bartleby The Scrivener, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, etc. Short stories mirror (if need exceed) the difficulty of SAT reading passages and also are short in nature that would test your grasp and understanding of the subject. You can find them here: Twenty Great American Short Stories

Read lots of them and try to understand the meaning behind every sentence. Over time, you will develop a reading comprehension skill that would make the SAT reading a joke.

Next, we suggest to do lots and lots of practice problems. There’s really no substitute for doing lots of practice problems. Buy the Kaplan, Princeton Review, and SAT CollegeBoard exams and do all of them.

You should be able to get 750+ or close to 800.

That’s tough. If critical reading is your weakness, then we recommend reading every single SAT passage over and over again until you are comfortable with understanding every single point that they present in the passages.

In addition, try to figure out your approach to tackle the critical reading section, which is the harder section for most students. Usually underlining important points and figuring out the meaning of each sentence is the key to your success. You need to ask yourself, “What is this sentence telling me?” And once you figure that out, answering the questions should be a breeze.

If math is the weaker section, then you just need to do more practice problems. The math section practically tests up to first year of high school math through geometry and maybe bits of algebra 2, so it should be a cake walk as long as you do enough practice problems and read the solutions to figure what you did wrong.

a set of princeton review books

Practice. Buy all the Princeton Review and Kaplan books, and official College Board exams.

Do the problems, review the solutions to understand what you did wrong, and do more practice problems. Rinse, wash, and repeat. Seek to understand, not to replicate. Break down problems into chunks. Evaluate the possible tools and pathways you can reach the solution.

And hopefully, you’ll get that 1550+ SAT score, get the exam over with, and move onto to the next important action item to get yourself a head start in the college admissions process.

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