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SAT Reading: 4 Tips to Improve Your Focus

SAT Reading: The Toughest Section

The SAT is made up of 3 sections: Evidence Based Reading, Writing, and Math.

The Reading section is often lamented by students as the hardest section of the SAT. In truth, it may be the hardest section to get a perfect score on.

In our new SAT Reading series, we’ll cover the top 3 reasons why this SAT section is difficult. But more importantly, we’ll show you proven strategies for overcoming each of those problems and earning a top — even perfect — SAT Reading score!

What Makes The SAT Reading Section So HARD?

Scoring high on the SAT Reading requires tremendous effort and concentration. Since most passages are complex and the unfamiliar answer choices can be confusing, many test-takers struggle to maintain focus throughout the test. Students often give up on the hardest questions/passages, read the same paragraph over and over with no comprehension, or run out of steam by the end of the section and making careless mistakes.

Furthermore, students can get frustrated with their SAT Reading score and consequently lose motivation in their preparation. But there are proven ways to increase your stamina and focus!

Before reading these tips to improve your concentration on the test, make sure to check out our previous blogs. They’re full of great advice on improving your SAT Reading score.

Wanting to supercharge your comprehension skills for the SAT Reading exam? This is the place to start! Or, if you’re looking to powerfully boost your SAT Reading score, our recommendations will set you up for success.

Much of the advice in the remainder of this blog will not only improve your accuracy and timing, but also help to preserve your focus. Here are 4 tips to improve your focus while taking the test:

Tip 1: Conserve Your Mental Stamina

The SAT Reading exam can be extremely taxing. Make sure to conserve your mental stamina:

  • Read the passage in 4 minutes or less.
  • Don’t stop and re-read every word, sentence, or even paragraph you don’t understand.
  • Annotate the passage so you don’t have to remember where something was talked about; you can leave yourself “breadcrumbs” to come back to later.

When you don’t waste unnecessary energy trying to understand or remember every line of a passage, you’ll be able to really focus on the most difficult parts of the test.

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Tip 2: Practice Full-Length Tests

Many students aren’t used to sitting in a quiet room and reading difficult passages for an hour. Additionally, the style of questions on the SAT is probably much different than what you’ve been exposed to in school. Some test-takers become extremely nervous in a standardized setting or even develop anxiety during the exam upon seeing an unfamiliar passage or question type. 

Therefore, it’s important to practice the full-length 65-minute Reading section many times before going into the actual SAT. 

Take simulated exams as often as possible so that you can build up your mental stamina and familiarity with these test-taking conditions.

Tip 3: Take the Easy Test First

Don’t make the mistake of tackling the most difficult passages or questions first. When a passage or question is difficult for you, skip it! Just mark the question you’ve left unanswered, and come back to it later.

Instead, begin by gathering up as many “points” as you can. Read the simpler passages and answer the easier questions first. This makes sure that you won’t spend too much time on the harder questions, and run out of time to take the test.

By answering what you know first, the test will be less frustrating and you’ll feel more calm and confident when it comes time to answer the hardest questions.

Tip 4: Keep Yourself Motivated

It’s important to keep in mind why you’re preparing for this test. Think about your ideal scores, your prospective colleges, and your dreams. Remember that your ultimate objective isn’t just to pass the test! This exam is a stepping stone to where you want to be in the future.

By always keeping your ultimate goal in mind, you’ll be encouraged to stay focused and prepare strategically, not halfheartedly. If you need ideas on how to encourage yourself to continue your test prep, we’ve outlined 8 ways to stay motivated for you.

Final Tips

Use this blog to start boosting your SAT Reading score! Even better, let MEK Review help!

For upperclassmen, MEK Review offers a proven framework for success with our SAT Prep courses. On average, we boost student’s scores by 170+ points through expert guidance, comprehensive feedback, and full-length simulated SATs. 

We can also help high school students master their AP exams and Honors courses. MEK teachers focus on concept mastery and building good study habits.

Call 855-346-1410 or contact us here today!

We look forward to helping you!

MEK Review

MEK Review is the top learning center in North Jersey, dedicated to helping students of all ages begin an incredible success story. With our guidance, students have gained acceptances into the best schools in the country, earned top test scores, prepared for difficult admission tests, and transformed into their best selves in the classroom. To find your perfect solution, explore our programs or book your free consultation with an expert counselor!


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