How to Maximize Your Reading Score on the SAT

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

When you’re barreling through the Reading section on the SAT, time is your foe (enemy). To maximize your score, you need to concentrate on questions you’re fairly certain you can answer correctly. In general, follow these steps:

  1. Answer the factual questions.

    These questions are usually straightforward, and the question usually supplies a line number so you know where to look for the answer.

  2. Go to the vocabulary-in-context type of question.

    These questions generally rely on your understanding of only one or two sentences and can be answered quickly.

  3. Answer all evidence questions.

    This is a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. Unless the question preceding the evidence question stumped you, never skip an evidence question.

  4. If time is running out, skip questions that ask you to interpret the author’s tone or attitude or to identify the main idea.

    These questions rely on a solid understanding of the entire passage. If anything is unclear and you don’t have time to reread, move on to other questions.

  5. If the test-makers ask questions about relationships between paragraphs, style, inferences, and visual elements, do the ones that seem obvious to you and skip the rest.

    Go back if you have time for the tough ones.

  6. In paired passages, work on each passage separately and then on questions about the pair.

    Answer all the Passage I questions that you know immediately and then all the Passage II questions that you can ace with no trouble. Then tackle the shared-passage queries.

  7. In the last minute, bubble at random or finish one last question properly.

    If you have a chance to mull over a question and achieve a correct answer, do so. If not, bubble everything you omitted, choosing a letter that you like (A for your grade? B for your best friend?).

No matter which questions you answer first, remember one important rule: You get as many points for a correct answer to an easy question as you do for a correct answer to a hard question. Nope, it’s not fair. But then again, this is the SAT. Fairness isnt part of the deal.