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Kevin Rocci

How Hard is SAT Reading?

Reading! How hard could it be, right? We are talking about the SAT, though, and we know that this test likes to make things really hard. But the answer to “How hard is SAT reading?” depends a lot on you, the reader. Are you comfortable reading and analyzing fiction and nonfiction passages? Do you read for pleasure? Do you only read text messages from friends?

Let’s look at some of the different types of readers and how they would fair on the SAT reading questions. By the end, you should have a better idea of how hard the SAT reading is and what you will need to do to be a better reader.


How hard is SAT Reading if I never read?

Never! Really?!? The SAT reading will be extremely difficult if you never read. But this can’t possibly be true because you are reading this sentence right now. No more silly questions. 😛


How Hard is SAT Reading if I only read Tumblr and SnapChat, like, a lot?

Honestly, this type of reading will not help much in terms of SAT preparation. Aside from the obvious grammar and spelling liberties that people take when writing on Tumblr or SnapChat, one big difference is that what you read is probably wildly entertaining. The information is relevant to you and your friends and is something you went looking for. It probably involves some level of gossip or silliness—all things that we like.

The reading on the SAT is harder than this type of reading because it is wildly boring, or at least that seems to be College Board’s goal. When you like what you are reading, it is much easier to comprehend its meaning. Getting to the end of a passage you enjoy is easy. But if you read something boring, comprehension and completion become much harder. You have to work more to understand what the author is saying.

If you are this type of reader, you’ll need to spend a little more time reading more advanced writing and it probably wouldn’t hurt to become more acquainted with the types of passages that are on the test.


How hard is SAT Reading if I only read modern fiction?

If you are an avid reader, this is a start. Modern fiction can vary in terms of difficulty, but just the mere fact that you like reading and do it often will be an asset. But don’t expect reading all the Twilight books to help you prepare for the SAT. You still have the same issue that the Tumblr readers had—reading for pleasure is not the same as SAT reading. When you lose focus during a pleasure read, you take the time to go back and re-read. Or maybe you just forget about it and keep reading. Or you stop reading altogether. Whatever your response during a pleasure read, your response will need to be different on the SAT.

SAT reading is hard because students have to remain focused on a long passage that is boring, even fiction-based passages can be boring. When students form the habit of losing focus and doing nothing, they find it difficult to complete a passage about ecosystems in regions of the Amazon.

If you are this type of reader, you’ll need to spend more time working on your focus and active reading.


How hard is SAT Reading if I like reading my textbooks?

Kudos! Not too many high schoolers like reading textbooks let alone admit reading them for pleasure. Thus far, your textbooks are closer to the level of reading you need for the test. The topics in your textbooks are similar to the topics on the SAT, so you shouldn’t have to worry as much about focus.

But, reading a textbook is still not the same as reading on the SAT. Each was written for a different audience. Your textbook was written to educate high schoolers, which means the writers spent time thinking about how to make things easy to understand for you. The SAT passages were written to educate college students. Thus, the material might be the same, but the writing styles, vocabulary, and sentence structure will be more advanced on SAT reading.

If you are this type of reader, you’ll need to spend more time reading material that is at a college level.


How hard is SAT Reading if I read science journals and art periodicals?

You are reading above your grade level, and this will definitely help you on test day. The SAT reading passages are more like the writing in academic journals, and the more you read at this level the easier SAT reading will be. But just because you read at this level, doesn’t mean you can answer the questions on the passage.

If you are this type of reader, you’ll need to spend more time learning about common wrong answers and practicing your note taking skills.


About Kevin Rocci

Kevin helps Magoosh students by making sure none of their questions go unanswered. A UC Santa Cruz graduate with a BA in Politics and a minor in Film, he loves education, bluegrass, the Sierras, and the Pacific. The vastness of the universe does not deter him from hoping to meet an intelligent life form from another planet one day.

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