Quarantine Reading for the SAT

By Kevin Kwok

(ACT, SAT, TOEFL, ESL Tutor at The Edge Learning Center)

Of all the sections in the SAT, students find the Reading section to not only be the hardest section, but also the section that is hardest to make progress on. This is because unlike the Math or Writing sections, memorizing formulas or grammatical rules is not particularly applicable to the Reading section’s gauntlet of reading comprehension and critical reasoning questions. 


So what can be done? Well, if you talk to folks who scored highly in this section, one common denominator begins to emerge: they all READ. Often beginning at a young age, these folks began devouring whatever materials they could get their hands on, reading frequently and widely, consuming everything with the same ferocity as a hungry foodie confronted with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Like professional sports players who have shooting jump shots or freekicks all their lives, the breadth and depth of these bookworms’ reading experiences naturally equip them for the challenges posed by the SAT Reading section. Regardless of whether the passage is a science passage, a historical passage, or a fiction passage, they’ve (quite literally) seen it all before.


But even if you were never much of a reader, it’s not too late! Amidst the shifting SAT exam schedule, and the unfortunate uncertainty that the coronavirus pandemic has created with regards to student summer plans, there is an emerging opportunity for students with SAT plans to bolster their reading lists and start exercising their metaphorical reading muscles. If this sort of frequent reading isn’t something that you haven’t done too much of, here are some tips to get started:


1) Begin by reading about the things that you enjoy.

The road to accomplished reading does not necessarily have to go through Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens, or any other author that your English teacher may have asked you to read for class. As great as their works are, it’s far more critical to read enthusiastically rather than dutifully if you’re just getting started. For example, if you like sports, then this may mean reading books written by seasoned sports journalists about your favorite sport.

2) YouTube comments don’t count.

But even as we read enthusiastically about our favorite things, we must also do so in the service of our reading abilities. Tweetstorms and social media comments are all well and good for a diversion, but the passages on the SAT aren’t written in that style. Rise above the memes and look out for long reads by magazines or periodicals that will give you the necessary endurance for the SAT Reading section.


3) Talk to your teacher or tutor about what’s next!

If everything goes well, you’ll eventually have a go-to list of materials or publications that you find interesting and challenging. All that’s left are the “blind spots” of your reading experience: maybe you’re still not much of a science person, or maybe materials from 200 years ago continue to be vexing and utterly uninteresting to you. But you’re not alone – at this point talk to your English teacher at school about what you’ve been reading, what you like to read, and what you haven’t been reading because it’s difficult or boring for you. Or come talk to us! We can all help point you to the right books or articles that find that common ground between what you like to read and what type of reading content you still need exposure to.


Want to know more? Still not convinced? Call or email us if you would like more insight on the SAT Reading section, the test in general, or to sign up for a course or a FREE SAT mock at The Edge!


Blog written: Should I Take the SAT Essay?

About The Edge

The Edge Learning Center is Hong Kong’s premier Test Preparation, Academic Tutoring, and Admissions Consulting services provider. Founded in 2008, The Edge has helped thousands of students improve their ACT and SAT scores as well as their IB and AP grades. The AC team has just finished off another successful period in which students gained acceptance to schools such as Columbia, Yale, UChicago, UPenn, Oxford, and more! Check out our latest Admissions Results!

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