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OMG I’m horrible at the sat reading section..please HELP….?

Question by keko2: OMG I’m horrible at the sat reading section..please HELP….?
I have a 500 reading section score..i want to bring this to 650 by the end of summer..

is it possible
how should i prepare
should i memorize vocab
what sources should i use (I’ve been using collegeboard for a good

Best answer:

Answer by Karen B
Tip: Glance through the questions first, then read the text. You’ll have an idea what to focus on in your reading, and it will make answering the questions easier and faster.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Jerry Nelson

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One thought on “OMG I’m horrible at the sat reading section..please HELP….?

  1. Vicki from PowerScore

    Hi Keko,

    I know from personal experience that you can increase your Reading score, but it does take some hard work and dedicated study. You definitely need to practice with real test questions. The only book with real questions is The Official SAT Study Guide (aka the blue book). I recommend working through each Reading section in the practice tests in this book and reviewing the questions that you miss and the ones you guess on. It is important to understand why you miss or struggle with a question so that you do not make the same mistakes in the future.

    If you are unable to see the patterns on your own, you should look for a good Reading book from a reputable test prep company. I am a fan of the SAT Reading Bible, for obvious reasons—I know the author pretty well ;). You can preview a chapter here: But there are others out there, too. Look for a book that includes the most commonly-occurring vocabulary words and one that breaks down right and wrong answer choice patterns in reading question. Some books have extra online supplements, too, like flash cards with “repeat offender” words that frequently appear (ours our free here: and question databases (again, free here: If you want a book that is comprehensive, stay away from the all-sections-in-one books, and look for those that just concentrate on Reading.

    Reading speed is critical, and the only way to improve speed, while retaining comprehension, is practice. This link ( lists magazines that have supplied SAT reading passages in the past, so the current and archived articles in these magazines make good practice passages.

    You need to practice “active reading” as you read. This entails asking yourself questions, paraphrasing, and relating the passage to your real life. In the first paragraph, you should be asking “What is the main idea?” and “How does the author feel about it?” Read quickly over supporting information and slow down for the big ideas. I typically read the first paragraph slow. When I come to the main idea or an important point, I paraphrase it if the wording is difficult. For example, the thesis of one of the passages on the College Board’s free test is as follows: “The two theories underlying the tremendous progress of physics during the last one hundred years—progress that has explained the expansion of the heavens and the fundamental structure of matter—are mutually incompatible.” In my head, I would paraphrase this sentence as “These two important theories cannot both be right.”

    You should aim to read the longer passages in 2 to 3 minutes. You do not have to understand every word or even every sentence of the passage in order to do well on the questions. If you need specific knowledge of a line, the SAT will send you back to reread that portion of the text.

    Because there is almost always one ridiculously wrong answer choice, you should almost always guess on these questions. Researchers have proven that by guessing EVERY SINGLE TIME you eliminate at least 1 answer choice, you will gain more points than you will lose. I never leave a Reading (or Writing) question blank.

    Finally, you need to take on a new attitude as you read. If I were to give you two passages, one about a new reality show on MTV and one about quantum mechanics in physics, it’s likely that you would remember all of the details of the MTV article and few, if any, of the physics article. We remember that which we find interesting. So you have to trick yourself into believing that the SAT passages are super cool and super fascinating, and attack them as if it’s a novel you’ve been waiting on for months.

    As for the questions and answer choices, remember that there is only one right answer. Something makes the other four answer choices wrong, whether it be a simple word or a complex idea. Try to prephrase an answer to the question before you ever look at the answer choices. Then, avoid answers that are the opposite of your prephrase; these answers often use the same words that were used in the passage, while the right answer relies on synonyms. For example if the text uses the phrase “ferocious antagonism,” the wrong, opposite answer will likely use either “ferocious,””antagonism,” or “ferocious antagonism.” The right answer will use synonyms like “savage opposition,” or “merciless dissension.” I hope this helps.

    Best of luck!


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