The Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT is made up of four sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (without the use of a calculator), and Math (with the use of a calculator).
Out of these four sections, previous examinees and those that are currently reviewing for the test often say that the two Math parts are the ones that give them the most headache and problem.
However, many students find Reading as the most difficult segment. Most of the time, these examinees are not native English speakers or do not have a good mastery of this language. Because of these reasons, they will get low scores in this section on their SAT diagnostic and practice tests.
Getting a low score on your Reading exam will affect your overall SAT mark. As such, if you are performing poorly in this section during your review, you have to find ways to improve your reading and comprehension skills.
More importantly, if you want to have a high, impressive SAT score, you need to ensure you will get an excellent mark in Reading during the actual exam.
Below are five tips that will help you get higher scores in Reading on your practice exams and the actual SAT:
1. Know the mistakes you keep making
Many students tend to commit the same errors over and over again in the Reading section when they take practice tests. To avoid making the same mistakes on your actual SAT, identify what these are, and learn how to reduce or get around them entirely.
If you are taking up an SAT prep class, you will see these mistakes immediately when you get your papers back after each mock exam. Additionally, your tutor will also point them out to you and explain why you keep making these errors.
Most of the time, these mistakes are caused by carelessness and pacing errors. If you or your tutor determines that these two are the culprits behind your low score in Reading, you need to develop a test-taking strategy that will allow you to analyze the passage and questions better.
Additionally, you also have to learn to manage your time to ensure you answer all questions and still have a few minutes left to double-check all items.
If you want to get a higher score in Reading on the actual SAT, focus on correcting and minimizing these mistakes during your test prep.
2. Master skim-reading
Like all the other sections, the Reading exam is time-limited. You will be given 65 minutes to read five passages and answer 52 questions. If you want to have some time to review the items before the end of the test, you need to go over each text and answer the questions within 12 minutes only.
To work efficiently during this part of the SAT, practice and master the skill of skim-reading. This technique calls for reading only the main ideas within a passage to get an overall impression and understanding of the article.
During your test prep, find out which skimming strategy works best for you. Reading the introduction and summary or last paragraph allows some students to understand the passage and get the correct answer.
For others, reading only the first and last sentences of each paragraph helps them identify the right answer.
Whichever skimming technique works for you, practice and master it thoroughly before your SAT exam.
3. Select your own order of answering the questions
In the actual SAT, the questions for each passage are not presented in order of difficulty; they are arranged chronologically. As such, if you can’t seem to answer a hard question, don’t be afraid to skip it for now. Move on to the easier items and go back to these difficult ones later.
Answering these questions first is not advisable since you haven’t read and understood the entire passage yet. Save them for last and tackle them once you have a good understanding of the article.
Answering the other easy questions first will also help you have a clearer idea of the overall themes of the passage.
4. Use the process of elimination
If you are stumped on a particular question, you won’t be penalized for guessing the correct answer. However, by eliminating one or two of the choices, your chances of getting it right will be higher.
An elimination strategy you can try under Reading is “plug it in.” Although this technique is often used in the Math part, it also works under this section.
Plug it in works best for questions that ask you to describe a word or phrase in the passage. To use this technique, replace the word in question with each of the choices. You “plug” the answers back into the text in place of the original word or phrase. You can then effectively eliminate the ones that do not make sense when used in the given context.
Another elimination technique you can use is looking for modifiers and descriptors. Many answer choices on the Reading part have descriptive modifiers.
Instead of getting annoyed by and ignoring them, use them to eliminate incorrect answers. These modifiers are usually what differentiates one answer choice from another.
5. Read more
Lastly, to get higher scores in your mock Reading exams, you have to read more. In your spare time, pore over periodicals such as National Geographic, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal to boost your vocabulary and enhance your critical reading skills.
When you don’t understand a particular word, look it up. This is a great way to build your vocabulary, as well.
And when you are given SAT Reading materials, read them. These articles are based on actual SAT exams and as such, are perfect to practice on.
Sufficient preparation will boost your chances of getting a high score in Reading. Visualizing your success and being confident during the SAT exam will also help you ace this section and even the whole test.
About the Author:
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.