Studying for any test is crucial, and getting ample reading SAT practice is no exception to that rule! Your mind is probably buzzing with questions; from how many questions are on the SAT, to how to best prepare and navigate specific sections. In this blog, we review what you need to know for reading SAT practice, and provide you with sample questions and answers.

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Understanding the SAT Reading Section What Makes Up the SAT Reading Section? Embarking on the SAT Reading Preparation Journey SAT Reading Practice Passages Conclusion FAQs

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) serves as a milestone for many high school students aspiring to pursue higher education; but it is more than just a mastery of your high school subjects. It's a standardized test that evaluates a student's readiness for college, with a focus on mathematics, evidence-based reading, and writing. And, above all else, it's a springboard into the college sphere, and a reflection of your readiness to tackle higher education rigors. Among the sections that constitute the SAT, the Reading Section stands as a critical gauge of your analytical and comprehension prowess.

You may still be weighing your options between the SAT vs. ACT tests, or wondering, “should I take the SAT?” Even if you’re still undecided, or learning toward attending one of the colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT it is still crucial to understand what each test might look like, and how you’ll have to study and prepare. In this blog, we’ll review some crucial information you’ll need to know before you begin your SAT preparation, so you can better plan your SAT schedule and decide what you need to study. This article will dissect the SAT Reading Section, shedding light on its composition, its significance, and how a well-rounded preparation strategy can make a substantial difference in your performance. We will also review a sample sat reading practice passage and questions (with responses). While these responses are by no means definitively correct (nor will they be guaranteed to mimic the questions that will show up on your SAT), they serve as a guideline to prepare you and give you an idea as to what type of questions to expect, and what you should strive to extract from the text you’re given!

Understanding the SAT Reading Section

The SAT Reading section is designed to measure your ability to interpret and analyze texts. It consists of passages from a variety of genres including literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences, followed by multiple-choice questions that test comprehension, vocabulary in context, and analytical skills.

This section will challenge you to dig beyond the surface of the texts, encouraging a deeper understanding and engagement with the material.

The significance of the Reading section extends beyond the SAT. It's reflective of the kind of reading and understanding expected of you in college. Mastery in this section indicates a readiness to engage with complex texts in a meaningful way, a skill that is indispensable in higher education.

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What Makes Up the SAT Reading Section?

The SAT Reading Section is tailored to test your critical reading skills through a set of 52 multiple-choice questions. These questions are spread across five passages, each hailing from distinct domains: classic or contemporary literature, history or social studies, science, and foundational documents. With a time cap of 65 minutes, this section not only tests your reading acumen but also your ability to manage time effectively.

Navigating through the varied themes and question types requires a blend of sharp analytical skills and a knack for drawing insights from complex texts. The end goal is to assess your readiness to dive into the diverse reading materials you'll encounter in your college journey! No matter what your path is – whether you’re hoping to take time to get better prepared and even attend a summer program for high school students, or, you’re hoping to attend a top non-ivy league school or have your sights set on Harvard – knowing what to expect from the SAT, and how to effectively practice your reading (among other subjects) is key. It’s never too early to be prepared.

Embarking on the SAT Reading Preparation Journey

Ample preparation is the key to achieving a good SAT score. Practice makes perfect, and although individual study preferences, and SAT schedules for studying, can vary, it’s important to begin your study journey well in advance of your SAT date.

Kick-starting Your Preparation Early with the Right Resources

The journey towards acing the SAT Reading Section begins long before the exam date – 3 months is the minimum time that we recommend you allot for studying! An early start coupled with understanding how to study for the SAT and having the right study materials paves the path for a thorough preparation. Diving into official SAT prep books and tapping into resources that can help strengthen your reading and English comprehension – this may include books about grammar, or, improving your own reading, critical analysis and vocabulary skills. Aligning your prep materials with the SAT Reading section's content and format is crucial for a targeted preparation. Additionally, if you require extra help, an SAT tutor may be a worthwhile investment.

Cultivating a Reading Habit and Expanding Your Vocabulary

To thrive in the SAT Reading Section, and make the most of your reading SAT practice, embracing a culture of regular practice is vital – your practice and study schedule will differ from those of others – and you should follow a structure that works for you. But as the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’ and it will be hard for most to be prepared after only one quick review. 

Official SAT practice tests are gold mines to familiarize yourself with the question formats and the timing. Moreover, cultivating a habit of reading widely, spanning both fiction and non-fiction genres, will significantly enhance your reading comprehension skills.

Learning how to do more than just read the words on a page will prove useful for the SAT – heading to your local library, bookstore, or asking friends and teachers for recommendations is a great place to start. Some challenging (but famous) literary works often dissected and evaluated in post-secondary programs include the works of William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, and Margaret Atwood. The styles of their writing may vary, and that’s good – this will help you become familiar with different texts and understand why it’s crucial to ask questions. Looking up words you don’t understand, reading or discussing others’ interpretations of the books (this can easily be done on apps like Fable or forums like Reddit) and challenging yourself to draw conclusions or make assessments are all great ways to practice being an active reader. Additionally, Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is a fantastic, digestible piece that highlights several great tips that readers and writers alike should know, and that students of all kinds can benefit from.

Finally, vocabulary is your silent ally in navigating through the SAT Reading Section, and building a solid vocabulary doesn’t just aid in understanding the text but also in interpreting questions accurately. Flashcards, challenging books (as noted above), and a conscious attention to context are fantastic avenues to expand your word bank.

Time Management and Acquainting With Question Types

With a ticking clock, managing your time during the SAT Reading section is a skill that can markedly impact your score. Designating specific time slots for each passage and question set, and moving past challenging questions to return to them later can optimize your score.

A keen understanding of the different question types you'll encounter is a game-changer. Whether it's inference questions, main idea questions, or evidence-based questions, each type demands a unique approach. Crafting strategies for each question type not only streamlines your thought process but also sharpens your answering technique, propelling you closer to your desired score. For starters, you may (or may not) wish to time yourself to become familiar with the test-day constraints you’ll have. You may also wish to underline words or themes that reoccur in a text during your initial review in order to gather an understanding of the main idea, or, the evidence an author is presenting to back up their argument. This can help draw your attention back to the crucial points in the text, which certainly helps with time is of the essence! You may also find that using the process of elimination for each question can be a great strategy. Get in habit of crossing out all of the wrong answers before deciding on the correct one. This can help when answers are worded similarly, and, increases your chances of selecting the correct answer. It is sometimes simpler to decide between two options (rather than four).

Preparing for the SAT Reading Section is akin to training for a marathon. It demands a blend of the right preparation materials, a consistent practice regime, and a strategic approach towards time management and question types. As you embark on this preparation journey, remember, every reading, every practice test, and every new word learned, is a step closer to not only acing the SAT Reading Section but also to laying a solid foundation for your academic future in college. With all of that said, let’s look at some samples of SAT Reading Passages, along with sample questions and potential responses.

SAT Reading Practice Passages

Below, you will find 3 sample passages, followed by sample questions (with each correct answer explained below the multiple-choice options).

Sample Passage 1: The Legacy of Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist whose work on X-ray diffraction was critical in the discovery of the DNA double helix. Her famous "Photo 51" revealed the density patterns that suggested a helical structure, which became a crucial piece of evidence in identifying the shape of DNA. However, Franklin's contributions were overshadowed by those of her male peers, Watson and Crick, who received the Nobel Prize for the discovery.

Franklin's meticulous approach to her work set her apart. She was a careful and precise experimenter, which allowed her to capture the fine details of the DNA structure that had eluded others. Despite her clear role in the discovery, Franklin's work was only fully recognized posthumously. Today, she is celebrated not only for her contributions to science but also as a symbol of the challenges faced by women in STEM fields.

Sample Passage 2: The Hidden Life of Trees

Trees are often viewed as solitary individuals, but the forest is a social network. Peter Wohlleben, a forester and author, explores this concept in his book, “The Hidden Life of Trees.” He describes how trees communicate with each other, care for the young trees and the sick, and share nutrients. This communal behavior is facilitated by the "Wood Wide Web," an underground network of fungi that connects the trees' roots.

According to Wohlleben, trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. The idea that trees could possess intelligence and emotions is a revolutionary thought that challenges the very way we think about the plant kingdom.

Sample Passage 3: Innovations in Renewable Energy

In the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy sources have become increasingly significant. Among them, solar and wind power have been at the forefront. However, new technologies are emerging that could change the landscape of renewable energy. One such innovation is the development of organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs), which offer a more flexible and less costly alternative to traditional solar panels.

OPVs are made from organic compounds and can be printed onto materials. This flexibility means that OPVs can be integrated into windows, vehicles, and even clothing, potentially turning any surface into a solar power generator. Another promising area is the advancement of offshore wind turbines. These turbines can be placed in deep water far from land, harnessing the power of the wind without contributing to land-use conflicts or visual pollution.

As the technology matures, the challenge remains to increase efficiency and storage capacity to ensure a steady and reliable energy supply. Despite these challenges, the commitment to innovation within the field of renewable energy provides hope for a sustainable and clean energy future.


In conclusion, mastering the SAT Reading section is your path to college success, and utilizing practice materials can help you become familiar with the test’s content. By starting early, choosing the right study materials, practicing regularly, and honing your reading and vocabulary skills, you can boost your SAT Reading scores and increase your chances of getting into your dream college. You’ll also provide yourself with ample time to reach out for assistance and sort out your schedule and organize/plan what to bring to the SAT, among other things, once you’ve amply prepared to master the content on the test!

Remember, the SAT is not just a test of knowledge but also a test of your ability to apply critical thinking skills. So, prepare diligently, and you'll be well on your way to acing the SAT Reading section and achieving your academic goals.


1. What types of passages are included in the SAT Reading Section?

The SAT Reading Section encompasses five passages, each from different domains: classic or contemporary literature, history or social studies, science, and foundational documents.

2. Why is the SAT Reading Section significant for college admissions?

The Reading Section gauges your ability to comprehend and analyze texts, crucial skills for college-level coursework. It helps colleges assess your readiness for academic reading and analysis.

3. Are there colleges that do not require students to take the SAT?

Yes, there are several colleges that do not require an SAT or ACT, or will consider admission on a case-by-case basis for students who opted not to take the SAT or ACT.

4. How can early preparation benefit my SAT Reading Section performance?

Early preparation allows ample time to familiarize yourself with the question formats, improve vocabulary, and hone time management skills, leading to a better performance.

5. What resources are recommended for SAT Reading Section preparation?

Official SAT prep books and reputable online resources aligned with the SAT Reading Section’s content and format are recommended for targeted preparation.

6. How can I improve my vocabulary for the SAT Reading Section?

Engage in reading widely, using flashcards, and tackling challenging texts to expand your vocabulary. Understanding context can also aid in learning new words, as can reading new materials and taking a deeper dive into what you read. When in doubt, researching the meaning of a word can help provide context and familiarize you with using it.

7. What strategies are effective for time management in the SAT Reading Section?

Allocate specific time slots for each passage and question set. If stuck on a question, move ahead and return to it later to optimize your overall score.

8. How do different question types in the SAT Reading Section require unique approaches?

Familiarize yourself with various question types like inference, main idea, and evidence-based questions. Developing unique strategies for each type can streamline your answering process.

9. Can practicing with official SAT tests improve my reading comprehension skills?

Yes, practicing with official SAT tests can significantly enhance your reading comprehension skills by familiarizing you with the SAT’s format and question types.

10. How often can I retake the SAT if I'm not satisfied with my score?

There is no limit to how many times you can retake the SAT. However, the frequency of retakes is determined by the test dates offered per year.

11. How can an SAT tutor aid in my preparation for the SAT Reading Section?

An SAT tutor can provide personalized guidance, help identify and bridge gaps in your preparation, and offer additional practice to improve your SAT Reading Section performance.

To your success,

Your friends at

BeMo Academic Consulting

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