Best SAT Reading Test Practice

The Reading Test focuses on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education: the stuff you’ve been learning in high school, the stuff you’ll need to succeed in college. It’s about how you take in, think about, and use information. And guess what? You’ve been doing that for years.

It’s not about how well you memorize facts and definitions, so you won’t need to use flashcards or insider tricks or spend all night cramming.

Quick Facts

  • All Reading Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • Some passages are paired with other passages.
  • Informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts, accompany some passages—but no math is required.
  • Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.
  • The Reading Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.

What the Reading Test Is Like

When you take the Reading Test, you’ll read passages and interpret informational graphics. Then you’ll use what you’ve read to answer questions.

Some questions ask you to locate a piece of information or an idea stated directly. But you’ll also need to understand what the author’s words imply. In other words, you have to read between the lines.

What You’ll Read

To succeed in college and career, you’ll need to apply reading skills in all sorts of subjects. Not coincidentally, you’ll also need those skills to do well on the Reading Test.

The Reading Test always includes

  • One passage from a classic or contemporary work of U.S. or world literature.
  • One passage or a pair of passages from either a U.S. founding document or a text in the Great Global Conversation they inspired. The U.S. Constitution or a speech by Nelson Mandela, for example.
  • A selection about economics, psychology, sociology, or some other social science.
  • Two science passages (or one passage and one passage pair) that examine foundational concepts and developments in Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics.

What the Reading Test Measures

A lot more goes into reading than you might realize—and the Reading Test measures a range of reading skills.

Command of Evidence

Some questions ask you to:

  • Find evidence in a passage (or pair of passages) that best supports the answer to a previous question or serves as the basis for a reasonable conclusion.
  • Identify how authors use evidence to support their claims.
  • Find a relationship between an informational graphic and the passage it’s paired with.

Words in Context

Many questions focus on important, widely used words and phrases that you’ll find in texts in many different subjects. The words are ones that you’ll use in college and the workplace long after test day.

The SAT focuses on your ability to:

  • Use context clues in a passage to figure out which meaning of a word or phrase is being used.
  • Decide how an author’s word choice shapes meaning, style, and tone.

Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science

The Reading Test includes passages in the fields of history, social studies, and science. You’ll be asked questions that require you to draw on the reading skills needed most to succeed in those subjects. For instance, you might read about an experiment then see questions that ask you to:

  • Examine hypotheses.
  • Interpret data.
  • Consider implications.

Answers are based only on the content stated in or implied by the passage.


You will be allotted 65 minutes to answer the 52 questions in the Reading section. That’s a lot of

questions in a short period of time. However, you can use some specific strategies and techniques

to move through this portion of the SAT® efficiently. Check out these strategies for answering the

evidence-based reading questions quickly and accurately.

Answer All of the Questions Before You Start the Next Passage

There won’t be time to go back to reread the passages and recheck your answers, so answer every

question that you can about the passage. If you don’t know an answer, skip the question and return

to it when you have answered the other questions in the passage. Check your time, and if you think

you can answer one of the skipped questions with a quick reread of part of the passage, go ahead.

If not, or if you find it is taking too long, just give it your best guess and then move on. Remember,

wrong answers are not held against you, so don’t leave anything blank. Make sure you have answered every question for each passage before you move on to the next one.

Remember That the Questions Get More Specific

The question order often holds a key to understanding a passage. The SAT® Reading Test organizes

the questions from broader questions about themes, purpose, point of view, and main ideas to more

specific questions about explicit and implicit meaning, specific language, and structure of the text.

Review the questions and take note of the information they ask for before reading the passage. As

you read, underline or make notes to highlight text that may answer a question. Remember, answers

will be in the text—either stated or implied.

Paired Passages

For the paired passage, look for the characteristics in each passage that tie them together. Skim the

questions so you know what to look for and underline parts of the text that you may want to refer

  1. Try to form an overview of the two passages. Ask yourself why they are paired: what do they

have in common; how are they different. In answering the questions for this type of passage, follow

the same strategy: first answer all the questions you are fairly sure about. Then fill in the others

based on best guesses, and, if time allows, review the evidence in the text to support your guess

and answer the question accordingly. Make sure you have answered all the questions, and then go

to the next passage.

Don’t Panic When You Read an Unfamiliar Passage

The passages can be unfamiliar. In their attempt to be fair, the test-makers purposely choose a

variety of passages. This helps make sure that each test-taker can demonstrate his or her reading

and analysis skills. Remember, you’re not being tested on your knowledge of the topic but on how

well you do the following:

  • Understand the author’s assumptions, point of view, and theme
  • Determine how the author supports the main ideas in the text
  • Determine how the author uses specific language to create mood or tone
  • Analyze the logical structure of the text
  • Analyze overall meaning as well as specific words and phrases in context of the passage

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