SAT Reading

The SAT Reading involves answering questions based on reading and deciphering texts which are similar to the ones the students will face in college. The 52 questions on this section can be based on a single passage, a pair of passages, or a passage with one or two graphics. This section contains 5 passages, and each passage comes with 10 or 11 questions. One of these passages will have two short passages that have a common theme. One or two of the passages can have one or two charts accompanying the passage. This is the first section of the test and is for 65 minutes.

Different Sections on the SAT Reading

The major areas that SAT Reading tests on:

Words in Context –

These questions focus on the student’s ability to understand the different meanings of common words as they are used in the text. The meaning and the purpose of the words in context are tested.

Citing Textual Evidence –

These questions focus on the student’s ability to identify textual evidence for the previous question, how the author supports the claim made, and which claim is best supported by the data given in the graphics.

The passages that appear in the Reading test include the following:

Literature Passage –

One of the passages will be fiction from the US or World Literature. This could be an intact short story or may contain passages from a novel.

Social –

Two passages on the test will be from Social Science, Founding Documents, and Great Global Conversations.
Social Science includes passages from anthropology, communication studies, linguistics, human geography, and various other fields. The Social science passage may sometimes contain the paired set of passage or graphics.
Founding Documents/ Great Global Conversations include passages written by the US or International authors and deal with moral, political, legal, and ethical issues. These passages too can sometimes come in a pair.

Science –

Two of the passages that appear on the test will be science-based. These passages will talk about recent discoveries or hypotheses from various fields like physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science. These passages too can contain a paired set or graphics.

The three categories of SAT Reading questions are the following:

Information and Ideas –

These questions are based on the information given directly in or suggested by the passage. The sub-topics include citing textual evidence, identifying main ideas and central claim, summarizing the content, identifying relationships, and interpreting the contextual meaning of words or phrases.

Rhetoric –

These questions test how the author develops and conveys the meaning in the text. The subtopics include analyzing words, text structure, arguments, point of view, and purpose.

Synthesis –

These questions ask the students to identify the relationship between two passages or between a passage and graphics. The subtopics include analyzing multiple texts and quantitative information.

SAT Reading No. of passages No. of Questions Time (in minutes)
5 52 65

SAT Reading Scoring Pattern

The raw score on the SAT Reading is the number of questions the student gets correct in the section. There is no negative marking in this section. The raw score is then scaled to the Reading Test score ranging from 10 – 40. This Reading Test score is then combined with the Writing and Language Test score to reach the EBRW section score that ranges from 200-800.

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Reading Comparison

Reading Question SAT MCQ-1

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About SAT Test


Should I do the passages in the same order as they appear on the test?

It is not necessary to follow the same order as it is given in the question paper. You can decide the order, but the section should be completed within the stipulated 65 minutes. Once you finish the section, and the time is up. you are not allowed to visit it again. 

Do I need prior knowledge of the topics to crack the Reading section?

Prior knowledge is not required in the SAT Reading section. All the information that is needed to answer the questions is in the passage. 

Is it possible to score 800 on the SAT EBRW section?

Yes, it is possible to score 800 on the EBRW. You have to get all the questions correct in both the reading and writing and language sections.

What are paired passages?

One of the history or science passages will contain two short passages instead of one long passage. Both passages deal with the same topic

Do I need to learn a lot of vocabulary for SAT Reading?

SAT doesn’t test you on arcane vocabulary anymore. But you should develop your skills to identify the contextual meaning of the common words used in the passages. 

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