Scoring High on the SAT Critical Reading Sections

Part of the SAT For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Maximize your SAT Critical Reading score with these tips. The SAT Critical Reading sections consist of two types of questions: sentence completion and reading comprehension. The sentence-completion questions ask you to choose the right vocabulary words to fill in the blanks in the given sentences. Here are a few tips to help you succeed on these test questions:

  • Insert your own word into the sentence and then check the choices for a word that matches yours in meaning.

  • Apply real-world knowledge to grasp the intended meaning of the sentence and missing word or words.

  • Look for clue words that change the sentence’s meaning from positive to negative (however, therefore, but, and so forth), and then look for the corresponding word from the choices.

For the reading comprehension questions, you have to read one or two passages and then answer questions about them. To do well on this part of the SAT Critical Reading section, follow these techniques:

  • Don’t skip the introduction to the passage because it often provides valuable information, such as the author and historical context of the passage.

  • Glance at the questions before you hit the passage so you know what to focus on as you read the passage.

  • Read the whole passage! (Skipping paragraphs here and there will make answering the questions harder later.)

  • As you read, underline key points or jot down notes in the margins so you can find what you’re looking for quickly when answering the questions.

  • Never skip a vocabulary-in-context question; the answer you seek is often right there in the passage.

  • When you get to main-idea questions (those asking about a good title for the passage as a whole, for example), remember that their answers must cover everything in the passage without being too broad or vague.

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