Basic Strategy for SAT Reading
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t leave any questions blank.
SAT Reading Question Types with Examples and Strategies
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?
- A) Lines 28-32 (“By his…Lahore”)
- B) Lines 40-42 (“The landowner…ahead”)
- C) Lines 46-49 (“In your…should”)
- 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
- A) Harouni appreciates that Nawab has to work hard to support his family.
- B) Harouni sees benefit to himself from giving Nawab a motorcycle.
- C) Nawab’s speech is the most eloquent that Harouni has ever heard.
- 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?
- A) Lines 65-66 (“And…crux”)
- B) Lines 66-68 (“He didn’t…him”)
- C) Lines 75-76 (“He even…gasoline”)
- 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.
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…
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
- A) numerous.
- B) familiar.
- C) widespread.
- D) ordinary.
In describing squash bees as “indifferent” (line 68), the author most likely means that they
- A) could not distinguish enhanced flowers from normal flowers.
- B) visited enhanced flowers and normal flowers at an equal rate.
- C) largely preferred normal flowers to enhanced flowers.
- 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
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
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