Steps for Solving SAT Passage-Based Reading Questions
Read the questions before you read the passage. I know it seems backwards, but if you figure out what things you’ll have to be looking for inside the passage before you read it, you may not have to re-read the passage once you’ve gotten around to the questions. It’s like someone handing you a list at the mall of all the stores having sales before you shopped. Sure, you could find those stores if you browsed without the list, but it would be easier to find the sales if you knew what you were looking for first.
Label the question types.The questions will either be “G” general or “S” specific. Label them as such. General questions will ask you about the passage as a whole and don’t require you to refer to any particular part of the passage – they may ask for tone, theme or main idea. Specific questions ask you to reference a particular word, phrase, or line in the text. After you've read the text, you'll answer the specific questions first and the general questions last. Don't start answering yet, though! You have another step to complete before you get there.
Use your pencil to help you read. As you skim through the passage, mark up that text! Underline words that seem important. Circle anything that sounds like the questions you just read. Paraphrase difficult sentences in the margins. You’ll save yourself a lot of re-reading time by understand the text completely the first time around.
Answer the questions with the answers covered. That’s right. Go through each question (All the specific ones first and general ones second) and try to answer them all without looking at the answer choices. Chances are good that you’ll actually come up with the correct answers in your head and you can simply uncover the choices to reveal the letter that matches your answer.
Move on. Once you’ve finished answering all of the questions associated with that passage, proceed to the next question and start the process over again. Don’t re-read, scrutinizing your answer choices. Statistics prove that your first choice will almost always be the right one. So stick to your guns.