How to do well in SAT critical reading section?

Exam: SAT Test - Scholastic Assessment Test: Reading, Writing and Language, Mathematics

The critical reading section is an area that tests how well you can read and understand English. Sometimes you may have trouble when reading a passage, become confused by certain words, sentences, or even the whole paragraphs. You may even get stuck on some details hence missing the main ideas. Perhaps now you are out there very interested to know what you can or should do to improve and perform well in the area.If you do, then pay attention and let us go through all the tips you should not miss when taking this section.

Focus on the main idea

One of the top most important things to do in order to improve your SAT critical Reading score is to focus on the main ideas in the passage. You may pay attention to some details that confuse you and yet the questions do not feature these details. For this reason, you should and must only know the main idea, which is the author’s opinion on the topic.  When it comes to questions, almost all the questions relate to the main idea and once you know it, you can handle almost any question.

Best possible answer

Unlike in the mathematics section, critical reading section does not need you to struggle to look for the right answers. What it needs you to do is to look for the best possible answers among the available choices.  How do you go about this? It is simple because all the wrong answers will that one thing that makes them wrong. As a student, use the process of elimination to get rid of all the wrong answers before picking an answer from the remaining choices. Pick the answer that most closely reflects the main idea of the passage whenever you are not sure of the correct answer among the remaining choices.

Focus on the area that earns you point

Another important tip is that you should always remember that you do not get a point for reading SAT passage; you only get a point for that question you have answered correctly. As a smart student, you should not waste your time and energy overanalyzing the passage. Try to spend only two minutes, at most, reading a passage and one full minute on each of the questions.

Improve vocabulary

To improve your skills in this area, you should improve and expand your vocabulary. If you do not read many books to help improve your vocabulary, so many unfamiliar words on SAT Critical reading section are likely to confuse you. Try expanding your vocabulary by learning at least 30 to 50 new words a day and, then memorizing the meaning of each. Now, it will be easier for you as a student to recall the meaning if you learned them in the context and you review them at the end of every week.

You should always read as it helps you to do well in critical reading section. Examples of materials that one should read are, SAT level newspapers or the magazines about business, finances or sciences.  You should also read classic novels, as they are best resources. Always remember that the best form of reading focuses on wisely choosing the material to read.


As a student interested on improving your critical reading section, you should always practice. One of the greatest things about studying the SAT critical reading section is that there are plenty of practicing materials available.  You should create time to practice because the more you practice in this section, the more you familiarize yourself with the type of grammar and literature found on the real SAT. Always have a stopwatch or clock with you when practicing so that you may practice to complete each section on time.

Look for evidence.

The SAT exam is always very systematic and not subjective. Every question asked from SAT critical reading passage will always have evidence that supports the correct answer. For this reason, when you are practicing, it is important to make sure that you find evidence for every answer. By using this strategy, you will start to see that the pattern of the questions and answering become easier for you. The moment you go for the test, you will not have to think so deliberately when finding evidence for each answer, but always make sure you apply this technique in answering every challenging question.

Use individual words to identify correct answers

To score high marks in the SAT test, you should be cautious when comparing the available choices of a possible answer. You should look specifically to that individual word that is likely to break the tie between the different choices. SAT tests an individual’s ability to see the difference between the answers choices and the word level. When reading, you should carefully look for those specific words that either qualifies or disqualifies your answers.

Some of the tips that enable you to distinguish between correct and incorrect choices:

  • As a student, make sure you read the part in italics before you start reading the given passage.
  • Never answer a question before reading the passage, always read the passage first.
  • Where a question refers to a specific line numbers, never hesitate to go back and re-read those lines because they usually help you understand what you are supposed to answer.
  • As long as you are on time and not in a hurry (which you should not be), always have guts to face that test.

You may have realized that SAT critical reading section has not been your favorite part of the test; however, applying the tips outlined above will help you to become a genius in SAT’s critical reading section.

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