SAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension

SAT Critical Reading: Passage based Reading

Reading-Comprehension Passage based reading questions make up about 48-49 questions in the critical reading section of the SAT. Passage based reading questions test your reading skills i.e. how well you read a passage, understand its content, its main theme, what the author is trying to communicate, etc. The questions are entirely based on what the passage contains i.e. you are not expected to use any additional factual information about the topic that you may have to answer any question.



There are three types of passages that you will encounter in an SAT :

  1. Short Passages: The short passages are typically 15-25 lines. The passage will be followed by 2-4 questions. These are fairly easy questions. The best strategy to answer short passage questions is to read the entire passage. Don't skim.
  2. Long Passages: The long passages are typically 45-125 lines. The passage will be followed by 6-13 questions. The best strategy to answer long passage questions is to skim the passage especially when the topic is not what really interests you.
  3. Dual Passages or Paired Passages: On every SAT you will find 2 dual or paired passages. Typically they are passages written by two different authors about the same topic. The paired passages may have two authors with conflicting viewpoints.

Tips and Tricks for Passage based Reading Questions:

  1. If you like the Passage, Just Read: You should decide whether you want to skim through the passage or read it in its entirety. On the SAT, the passages may be fictional, philosophical, based on natural sciences, etc. If you like reading a passage, our recommendation is simple. Just read it! Don't skim!!
  2. Answer Reference Questions First: Many questions in the SAT reading comprehension questions can be very easily answered by simply referring to the line referred in the question. These are the easiest questions to answer and you should try to get them right.
  3. Develop your own system: Create your own system to approach passage based questions. As a rule, you should tackle those passages that you find easier. Passages that you find interesting are almost always easier. Therefore if you find natural science passages more interesting, approach them first. Adopt whatever works for you. Important thing is to practice and figure out what works for you.
  4. Smart Annotation: Underline or highlight wherever necessary. Even though, you may think that underlining is not such a terribly useful tool, at the very least it allows you to focus.
  5. Contextual Vocabulary: These are easy questions i.e. ("In line nn, the word '__' most nearly means_"). Even if you know what the word means, resist the temptation to answer the question unless you have read the sentences in the passage accompanying the word. It's always a good idea to check your answer. Simply plug the meaning of the word or its synonym in the sentence and verify if the sentence makes sense.
  6. Strong Opinions: SAT passages are normally written by well-known authors that are highly unlikely to write a confused or ambiguous passage. Therefore any answer choice that implies that the author is an amateur, confused, ambiguous or inexperienced is likely to be incorrect.
  7. Political Correctness: SAT passages will never offend a race, nationality or religion. Therefore any answer choice that appears to be politically incorrect is likely to be wrong.
  8. Order of Difficulty: Most students find the short passages easier to answer. Therefore you should answer the questions related to small passages before you tackle the questions related to long passages.
  9. Develop Good Reading Habits: This is a good habit regardless of your SAT or college plans. However don't read pulp or comics, we mean serious reading. Reading editorials or op-ed columns of reputable publications such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, etc. is a good approach. You should also complement it by reading classic and contemporary fiction.

Practice SAT Reading Comprehension Questions for Critical Reading:

Reading Comprehension Practice Test 1
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 2
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 3
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 4
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 5
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 6
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 7
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 8
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 9
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 10
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 11
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 12
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 13
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 14
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 15
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 16
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 17
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 18
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 19
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 20
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 21
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 22
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 23
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 24
Reading Comprehension Practice Test 25

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