Table of Contents

Basic Strategy for SAT Reading

  1. Read the questions first to identify what information to look out for when reading the passage. Do NOT read the answer choices at that time.
  2. Always read the italicized portion before the passage. Sometimes the passage is taken from a much larger work, so it will be difficult to understand the passage without having read the background information from the italicized text. Also, sometimes the italicized information can provide enough information to correctly answer one or more questions.
  3. Don’t spend too much time on one question. Move on. You may come across the answer to the questions while you are answering another.
  4. After each paragraph, recap in your mind what you just read. If you can’t recap the paragraph, you may have been daydreaming. Read the paragraph again.
  5. Keep in mind that you do not have to become an expert on what you’re reading; you just need to understand it well enough to answer the questions correctly.
  6. Don’t leave any questions blank.

SAT Reading Question Types with Examples and Strategies

Main Idea


The main point of the passage is to

The passage is primarily concerned with

The author’s primary purpose in this passage is to

Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea of



Think about the main idea as you are reading the passage.

The main idea is often repeated in the first and last paragraphs.

All or most of the paragraphs in the passage should related to, but not necessarily the focus of, the main idea.

If you are stuck, answer the main idea question last.



According to the author

The author states all of the following EXCEPT

According to the passage, which of the following is true

According to the passage, the main characteristic of the subject is

Which of the following is best supported by the passage?

Which of the following is NOT cited in the passage as evidence of


A good SAT strategy is to always look back at the passage to see what is mentioned and what isn’t.

If a line reference is given, start reading from three lines up from the reference and finish 3 lines below it.

Fact Question Vocabulary

Aesthetic – artistic; dealing with appearance

Allusion – an indirect reference

Assumption – something accepted as true without proof

Attribute – characteristic

Divergent – differing from another

Fluctuate – to shift continually

Hypothetical – based on assumptions

Incompatible – not able to exist in harmony; conflicting; unsuited

Indicative – suggestive; pointing out something

Inherent – built-in; inborn

Innate – inborn; existing from birth

Misconception – mistaken idea; wrong impression

Phenomenon – observable fact or occurrence; subject of scientific investigation

Preclude – to make impossible; to keep from happening



It can be inferred from the passage that

The passage suggests that the author would support which of the following

The author implies that

According to the passage, it is most likely that

The passage is most likely directed toward which audience

Which of the following statements about _____ can be inferred from the passage



Answer must be based on information from the passage, but the answer will not be clearly stated in the passage.

Do not make too big of a jump.

Go through each answer choice.

If a line reference is give, always start at least five lines up and finish five lines down.

Inference Question Vocabulary

Criterion – a standard used in judging something; a basis for comparison

Excerpt – a selection from a longer literary work

Implication – an indirect suggestion; a logical inference

Imply – to suggest without stating explicitly; to mean

Likelihood – probability; chance of something happening

Plausible – appearing reasonable; apparently believable

Suggestive – tending to suggest something

Tentative – not defined or positive; hesitant


Evidence from Passage


Which choice best supports the claim that Nawab performs his duties for Harouni well?

  1. A) Lines 28-32 (“By his…Lahore”)
  2. B) Lines 40-42 (“The landowner…ahead”)
  3. C) Lines 46-49 (“In your…should”)
  4. D) Line 58 (“I’ve…years”)



Pay attention to where the quote in the answer choice starts and stops. If evidence is before or after the quoted part but not in it, then it is not the answer.

Evidence for Previous Question

Sample Pair of Questions:

It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that Harouni provides Nawab with a motorcycle mainly because

  1. A) Harouni appreciates that Nawab has to work hard to support his family.
  2. B) Harouni sees benefit to himself from giving Nawab a motorcycle.
  3. C) Nawab’s speech is the most eloquent that Harouni has ever heard.
  4. D) Nawab threatens to quit if Harouni doesn’t agree to give him a motorcycle.

Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  1. A) Lines 65-66 (“And…crux”)
  2. B) Lines 66-68 (“He didn’t…him”)
  3. C) Lines 75-76 (“He even…gasoline”)
  4. D) Lines 80-81 (“He could…business”)



When you are given a pair of questions such as the ones above, use the line references in the second question to find the answer to the first question. Do NOT answer the first question and then try to match up the evidence.

Data: Table/Diagram/Chart


Pay very close attention to the title of chart and the titles of data.


Which statement is best supported by information presented in the table?

The 2011 data in the table best serve as evidence of…

Age Group

Percent of Group Who Watches Football









Based on the table above, which of the following is a reasonable conclusions?

A) More 28-37-year-olds watch football than 13-617-year-olds.

B) There are more than double the number of 38-47-year-olds who watch football than 18-27 –year-olds.

C) 38-47-year-olds watch football more often than 28-37-year-olds.

D) For every 100 38-47-year-olds there are more people who watch football than for every 100 28-37-year-olds who watch football.

In the example above, all of the answers may seem correct. However, if you look more carefully at the headings, you might notice that is says “Percent of Group Who Watches Football” and not number of people who watch football. We don’t know anything about the number of people because we don’t know how many people are in each group. For example, just because 38-47 year olds has the highest percent of people who watch football doesn’t mean it has the highest number, because there may be a small number of people in the group. Choice D must be the answer because it takes the percent into consideration and not a number.



Do not base your answer to the question on the definition that you know. Always go back to the passage and see which of the answer choices fits.


As used in line 24, “common” most nearly means

  1. A) numerous.
  2. B) familiar.
  3. C) widespread.
  4. D) ordinary.

In describing squash bees as “indifferent” (line 68), the author most likely means that they

  1. A) could not distinguish enhanced flowers from normal flowers.
  2. B) visited enhanced flowers and normal flowers at an equal rate.
  3. C) largely preferred normal flowers to enhanced flowers.
  4. D) were as likely to visit beetle-infested enhanced flowers as to visit beetle-free enhanced flowers.



The author’s attitude to the problem can best be described as..

Which of the following best describes the author’s tone in the passage?

The author’s tone in the passage is that of a person attempting to


Avoid answer choices that are extremely positive or negative.

Look at the adjectives used by the author/character in the passage. Do the adjectives have a positive or negative connotation?

Based on the information included and words used, how did the passage make you feel?

Passages on the SAT will not cause controversy. A group of people will not be portrayed in a controversial way on the SAT.

Tone Question Vocabulary

Admonishing- reprimanded, rebuking

Aloof – distant, detached

Apologetic – being sorry

Cautious – hesitant; careful

Confrontational – argumentative; challenging

Contrite – remorseful, sorry

Cynical – skeptical; seeing the worst in people

Defensive – protecting one’s point of view

Derisive – ridiculing

Empathetic – having feelings for others

Entreating – begging, pleading

Explanatory – explaining

Inquisitive – Asking questions, curious

Nostalgic – remembering how good the past was

Reflective – thinking back on the past

Sardonic – sarcastic

Scathing – harsh

Scholarly – intellectual, cerebral

Sensationalistic – exaggerating emotions

Skeptical – doubtful

Tentative – hesitant

Understated – mildly suggested; unstressed

Wry – bitter or ironic

Ambivalent – unable to decide between two points of view

Amusement – humor

Bemusement – puzzlement

Condescension – patronizing behavior

Disdain – scorn; contempt

Disparagement – belittlement

Hypocritical – pretending to have virtues or feelings one lacks

Indignation – anger

Indifference – lack of concern

Irony – incongruity

Mockery- derision; insincere imitation

Objectivity – dealing with facts; having no opinion

Pessimism – lack of hopefulness

Sarcasm – cutting remarks

Satirical – mocking

Smugness – self-satisfaction; conceit

Somber – sullen; gloomy

Whimsical – fanciful; unpredictable

Author's Purpose


The description of _________ serves chiefly to

The author most likely outline/includes/references _________ in order to



This type of question doesn’t specifically ask about the included material, but instead asks why it

was included

Vocabulary for Author's Purpose Questions

Abstract – theoretical; not concrete

Analogy – similarity of functions or properties; likeness

Antithesis – direct opposite

Argumentative – presenting a logical argument

Assertion – positive statement; declaration

Cite – to refer to; to quote as an authority

Concrete – real; actual; not abstract

Evidence – data presented as proof

Explanatory – serving to explain

Expository – concerned with explaining ideas, facts, etc.

Generalization – simplification; general idea or principle

Narrative – relating to telling a story

Persuasive – intended to convince

Thesis – the central idea in a piece of writing; a point to be defended