The SAT Reading section can be intimidating. You’ve got sixty-five minutes to read and answer questions for five passages, so you’ve only got about thirteen minutes per passage. If you’re psyching yourself out and repeatedly second-guessing yourself, you’ll very quickly run out of time and energy. Here’s how to gain confidence on the SAT Reading Section without sacrificing any points.
1. Read for Fun
One way to make the SAT Reading section less daunting is to get rack up some hours reading for much lower stakes. First, pick a book that you think you’ll have fun with (I recommend Artemis by Andy Weir; it’s about a Moon heist) and then, read it. Open the book every day, and just read a little bit of it. What you want to prioritize is consistency. If you open the book every day, and read at least a sentence, you’ll be finished with it before you know it. This will also make the SAT Reading seem a little more manageable, and build your confidence with every book you’ve finished.
Reading a book you’re interested in will build a lot of the important SAT Reading skills you need, like reading speed and comprehension.
2. Take Notes
The SAT Reading passages are notoriously dense. After reading each paragraph, take a moment to take some notes and check if you understand what’s going on so far. Making sure you understand what you are reading while you’re reading it will prevent you from furiously looking back over the passage on every other question. Come at the questions feeling prepared, and the confidence will follow.
3. Pre-Answer the Questions
Before even looking at the answer choices, take a moment to try and answer the question like it was a free-answer question. This will help you understand what the question is asking you. This is especially helpful on vocabulary questions. Sometimes, you will see your answer written out as an answer choice, and that does wonders for your confidence.
4. Eliminate Answer Choices
If there’s something in the answer choice that makes you say “nope” draw a line through the words that make you dismiss it.
Do not be afraid to eliminate every answer choice if none of them are good enough for you. Then, you can look through the parts you crossed out, and see if you misread something, or, if they’re all terrible answers, if one is slightly more worthy than the others.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
The key here is slow, but consistent. The earlier you start, the better. If you can put at least an hour a week into practicing the SAT Reading, you’ll end up racking up completed tests quickly. Focus on the process and learning what you can about the test. Get a feel for the test’s patterns.
6. Be Zen And Move On
The biggest key to maintaining your confidence on the SAT Reading is learning to move on from questions. Sometimes, you’ll run into questions where you can’t decide between two answers. At this point, make a mark by the question (so you can come back to it if you have time), choose an answer, and move on with the test. You will get a higher score by accepting this potential loss and moving on, than by spending your precious time and energy flickering back and forth between answers. Make your mark, make your peace, and keep going. Focus on the questions in front of you, and let thoughts of any past questions pass by you. You don’t need to spend energy trying to stop the thoughts, just don’t interact with them. Shrug, and move on. Accept what comes, and you will build confidence.
That’s all! Now go forth and finish that SAT Reading with confidence! You can do this! If you want more SAT and ACT prep advice sure to join our mailing list for a free 27-item checklist and 30-day free SAT email course.