How to Improve Reading Speed for SAT (Read This First!) | Iris Reading
How to Improve Reading Speed for SAT

How to Improve Reading Speed for SAT (Read This First!)

How to Improve Reading Speed for SAT

Are you preparing for SAT and desire to score a perfect 800 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section? 

Reading comprehension is a vital part of SAT, and understanding how to improve your reading speed is very essential if you want a perfect SAT reading score. 

The faster you can read and assimilate what you have read, the higher your chances of success in your SAT preparation.

However, many are yet to learn how to speed read. As an intending SAT participant, improving your reading speed is crucial for the SAT exams as it can significantly impact your scores and your chances of getting into your desired college.

Whether you’re a student looking to improve your scores or a parent looking to help your child succeed, this blog post will explain what SAT is, why SAT reading and writing are important, and provide you with strategies you can use to improve your reading speed for  SAT success.

So, if you’re ready to take your SAT reading skills to the next level, read on!

What is SAT? 

The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized test typically taken by high school student’s during the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year and is used by colleges and universities in the United States to evaluate a student’s readiness for college-level work and measure their abilities in reading, writing, and math.

The SAT is a three hours long test that is divided into two main sections: 

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
  • Math

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section assesses a student’s ability to read and understand complex texts, as well as their ability to write clearly and effectively. 

The Math section assesses students’ knowledge of algebra, geometry, and other mathematical concepts.

For each section of the SAT, scores range from 200 to 800 points. Your overall SAT score is derived from your sectional results, and the greatest overall SAT score possible is 1600.

Colleges and universities use the scores from the SAT as one of the factors in determining a student’s eligibility for admission, along with other factors such as high school grades, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, and personal essays.

Additionally, the SAT score provides colleges with a single piece of comparable data point they may use to evaluate each application.

The importance of the SAT scores in college application varies from school to school. 

However, to have an excellent score and increase your chances of getting admitted to your desired college, preparing well for your SAT is essential.

Various resources are available to help students prepare for the test, including online practice tests, test prep classes, and study guides. 

Additionally, students can take the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) to understand what to expect on the SAT.

Another essential resource to use if you are preparing for SAT is the AccelaReader Speed reading tool. This tool can help improve your reading speed and chance of topping in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT.

Why are SAT reading and writing so important?

SAT reading and writing are important because colleges and universities use them to measure a student’s college readiness in these subjects. 

The skills tested in the reading and writing sections, such as comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking, are essential for success in college-level coursework and in many other areas of life.

A crucial reason SAT reading and writing are so important is that it helps compensate for weaknesses you may have in other areas. Schools typically consider your composite score much more than your scores from each section. 

If you can achieve a perfect 40 on the SAT Reading and get a 39 on the SAT Writing for a combined total of 790, this gives you a lot more flexibility because even if you get a 760 on the Math section, you can still feel sure in your overall test results. 

Also, in a case where you plan to apply as a humanities or social science major in IVY League schools, there will be a lot of comparisons of applicants in the admission selection process. 

When you apply as a humanities/social science major, you will be competing with other students who have also chosen these majors and for whom the SAT Reading is easy. 

For instance, in schools like Princeton, Yale, and  Harvard, the 75th percentile SAT Reading score is 770 or above. This indicates that at least 25% of all students at these institutions scored 770 on the SAT for reading.

However, if you can work on getting an 800, you’ll show that you’re on par. Although it will take a lot of work, what matters is getting the grade that gives you a strong chance of getting admitted into your desired school. 

Additionally, getting a perfect SAT score could open more scholarships and financial aid opportunities.

Need help in learning how to maximize your ability to comprehend SAT passages fast? Check out our maximizing memory course.

Tips to improve your reading speed for SAT 

Getting a perfect 800 on your SAT requires solid reading comprehension skills and test-taking techniques. 

Here are 10 reading tips to help you improve your reading speed for a perfect SAT score.

1. Pay attention to how you read.

Paying attention to how you read is essential for improving your reading speed for the SAT. By being aware of your reading habits, you can identify areas where you can make adjustments to read faster and more effectively.

The following are some ways you can pay attention to how you read.

 

  • Monitor your pace: Keep track of how fast you’re reading, and try to increase your speed over time.
  • Be aware of your fixations: Notice how often you pause on a word or phrase while reading, and try to minimize this behavior. Using speed reading tools like AccelaReader can train you to reduce your fixation habits.
  • Pay attention to your posture: Make sure that you’re sitting comfortably with good lighting and that your body is relaxed.
  • Avoid distractions: Try to read in a quiet environment without any distractions to help you focus on the task at hand.
  • Practice active reading: This means actively engaging with the text, looking for the key points and ideas, making connections, and questioning the author’s purpose and perspective.
  • Focus: Avoid multitasking or switching between different tasks while reading, as it can decrease your focus and concentration.

 

By paying attention to how you read and making minor adjustments, you can improve your reading speed for the SAT. Remember to be patient and give yourself time to practice and improve.

2. Skim through the questions

Another tip to improve your reading speed for the SAT is to skim through the questions before reading the passage. 

Skimming refers to reading quickly to get to the main point of the text. 

This technique allows you to identify the passage’s main idea and focus on the most critical information, saving you time and energy and helping you understand the text more effectively.

When reading the passage, quickly identify keywords and phrases in the questions. These will help you understand the passage’s main idea and anticipate what’s coming next.

Finally, once you have finished reading the passage, it’s essential to move on to answering the questions as soon as possible. This will help you to retain the information you’ve just read and avoid spending too much time on one passage.

3. Determine your baseline reading speed

Determining your baseline reading speed is an essential first step in improving your reading speed for the SAT. Your baseline reading speed is the current speed at which you read, and it will serve as benchmark for measuring your progress.

According to a study published in ScienceDirect, the average silent reading speed for adults in English is 238 (wpm) for non-fiction and 260 words per minute (wpm) for fiction.

To determine your baseline reading speed, try reading a passage at your normal pace and then time yourself. You can use a stopwatch, a timer on your phone, or even an online reading speed tool.

Once you know your baseline reading speed, you can set a specific goal for how fast you want to read and then work on improving your speed through practice and repetition using the tool.

By setting a goal, tracking your progress, and working on techniques to improve your reading speed, you can achieve a faster reading speed and improve your chances of acing the SAT reading comprehension section.

4. Minimize fixations and back-tracking

One of the most effective ways to improve your reading speed for the SAT is to minimize fixations and back-tracking.

Fixations refer to the number of times your eyes pause on a word or phrase while reading, and back-tracking refers to rereading a section you’ve already read. 

Both behaviors can slow down your reading speed and negatively impact your comprehension. In order to minimize fixations and back-tracking, it’s essential to focus on the structure of the text you’re reading. 

Before you begin reading, take a moment to preview the text, look for headings and subheadings, and pick out keywords and phrases quickly. 

By focusing on these elements, you’ll be able to understand the text’s central idea, anticipate what’s coming next and avoid fixations and back-tracking.

Finally, practice skimming and scanning the text. Although we discussed skimming earlier, it is worth mentioning again. 

It is a helpful reading speed productivity hack that can help you read faster and minimize fixations and back-tracking.

5. Read groups of words instead of individual words

Another key tip to improve your reading speed is to read groups of words instead of individual words. This is because our brains process information more efficiently when we read chunks of text rather than individual words. 

If you focus on one word at a time, you may be wasting time, but by reading groups of words, you’ll be able to understand the meaning of the text more quickly and easily.

One way to practice this reading technique is to use your finger or a pen to guide your eyes along groups of words as you read. This will help you focus on reading chunks of text rather than individual words.

For instance, if given a line of 12 words, a slow reader might stop to fixate on each word. But a faster reader often fixates on a group of words and reads the line in two or three fixations. 

We are talking about microseconds, but throughout the test, those microseconds add up. Try to keep your eyes moving forward and take in groups of words at a time rather than a single word.

6. Practice and time yourself by individual passages

Practicing and timing yourself by individual passages is another important tip to improve your reading speed for the SAT. This technique will allow you to track your progress and identify areas where you need to improve.

To implement this tip, ensure you practice reading at the correct pace and always work within the allotted time for each section. Set multiple timers, one for the section you’re working on and another for each passage. 

For instance, when taking the SAT Evidence Reading Test, be careful to set two timers. One timer for 65 minutes and another for 13 minutes each for the five passages (13 minutes is the average time allotted for each of the five passages).

To start practicing, use tools like the AccelaReader Speed reading tool. Just copy and paste a passage from a practice SAT question and set a timer for the time you have to read the passage during the actual test.

Then gradually increase your reading speed over time as you improve your ability to read and comprehend fast. 

7. Locate line-specific questions before reading the passage

An excellent technique for improving your reading speed in SAT is to locate line-specific questions before reading the passage. This technique helps you focus on the passage’s essential information and avoid getting bogged down by irrelevant details. 

Before reading the passage, look at the questions that follow it and use a pen or highlighter to identify any line-specific questions. These are questions that ask about a specific line or section of the passage. 

Once you have identified these questions, use them as a guide to help you focus on the most important information in the passage.

Another helpful point to note is that, as you read through the passages, answer that question while the information is fresh. 

But make sure to recheck your answer after completing the passage reading; sometimes, considering the context of the whole passage can be helpful. This will help you avoid writing a wrong answer and consequently decrease your scores. 

8. Don’t spend too much time reading the passage

Remember we mentioned that the SAT Reading Test is 65 minutes long and consists of 5 texts and related questions. This implies that you must spend, on average, 13 minutes reading each passage. 

An SAT passage should take you around five minutes to read. Spending more than five minutes reading will probably cut into your time to answer the questions. Spending less than five minutes reading puts you in danger of missing crucial details. 

However, spending too much time reading an entire passage is a common mistake many students make when taking the SAT. This not only slows down your reading speed productivity but also reduces the time you have to answer the Sat questions.

In order to avoid this, it’s essential to set a time limit for yourself when reading each passage. Once you have understood the primary idea of the reading passage, move on to the questions and provide answers quickly. 

9. Begin with the easiest passages and skip the harder ones on a first pass 

A helpful tip to improve your reading speed for the SAT is to begin with the easiest passages and skip the harder ones on a first pass. This technique allows you to maximize your time and focus on the passages you have a better chance of understanding and answering correctly.

When you first start reading the passages, begin with the ones that are shorter or have a simpler structure, as these will likely be easier to understand and complete. 

Once you’ve finished the easier passages, you’ll have more time to focus on the harder ones, allowing you to work through them more efficiently.

Additionally, you can use the questions that follow each passage as a guide to determine the difficulty level. If the questions are straightforward, then the passage will likely be easier, and you should begin with it. 

On the other hand, if the questions are more complex, the passage will likely be more complicated, and you should skip it on the first pass.

Note that no one question on the SAT is worth more than another, so you will be doing yourself no favors if you stubbornly stay too long on one passage question at the cost of getting to others

10. Practice regularly

The final tip we have for you in this piece is to practice regularly. This will help you to build your reading skills, increase your reading speed and become more familiar with the standardized test format.

Set a regular practice schedule for each day or week to practice reading passages and answering questions.

Use practice materials such as official SAT practice tests and other practice tests from reputable sources. 

These materials can help you to become familiar with the test format and to get a sense of the types of questions that you can expect on the actual test.

  • Time yourself while you’re practicing to help you to set goals and track your progress over time.
  • Analyze your performance after each practice session by looking for areas where you struggled and areas where you excelled. Use this information to improve and know where to focus your practice in the future.
  • Practice with different types of passages (history, social studies, literature, newspaper articles, and natural science), as the style and structure of each passage can affect your reading speed.

What it takes to get a perfect 40 in Reading?

Achieving a perfect score of 40 in the Reading section of the SAT can be a daunting task. However, with the right strategies and preparation, it is definitely possible to reach this level of excellence.

There are 52 questions in the Reading section, and how many questions you miss determines your scaled score out of 40.

Let’s take a look at the score conversion tables below from four tests taken from the official SAT practice tests.

 

Raw Score Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4
52 40 40 40 40
51 40 39 40 39
50 39 38 39 39
49 38 37 38 38
48 38 37 38 37
47 37 36 37 36
46 37 35 36 35
45 36 35 36 35

These grading scales are strict. If you miss even one question on exams 2 and 4, your score drops to 39, meaning your Reading and Writing score will be 790.

For tests 1 and 3, you can still get a perfect 40 if you miss one question, but if you miss two, you get a 39. And since you can’t predict what kind of test you will get on a given test day. The safest course of action is to aim for a perfect 800.

When practicing, no matter what your current score is, take note of the difference you must achieve to attain an 800. For instance, if your raw score is 35, you will need to correctly answer six to seven more questions to obtain a perfect 40 and an 800.

Now that you know what it takes to get a perfect 40 in Reading, remember to implement all of the tips and strategies we discussed earlier in this post.

Note that getting a perfect score of 40 in the Reading section of the SAT requires a combination of strong reading comprehension skills and test-taking strategies. 

At IrisReading, we have a Maximizing Memory course that teaches professionals or students preparing for SAT how to improve their memory. 

This course will cover practical techniques to help you remember what you read and memorize critical information essential for having a perfect SAT score.

Takeaway: Boost your reading speed with proven speed reading techniques to ace your SAT

If you desire to have a top SAT score and improve your chances of getting into your chosen college or university, then improving your reading speed is crucial.

The tips discussed in this piece are all effective ways to improve your reading speed, including paying attention to how you read, skimming through the questions, determining your baseline reading speed, minimizing fixations, and back-tracking. 

You should also read groups of words instead of individual words, practice and time yourself by individual passages, and locate line-specific questions before reading the passage.

Don’t spend too much time reading a passage. Begin with the easiest passages and skip the harder ones on the first pass. Most importantly, practice regularly.

As you begin to implement these into your SAT preparation, remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to practice and track your progress over time. 

The most important thing is for you to be consistent with your studies. 

Getting a perfect 40 is not easy, but you can achieve it. Take time to get familiar with the test by taking SAT prep classes and utilizing SAT reading tips. 

Keep pushing yourself to read faster and more efficiently using the tools mentioned above, and you’ll be on your way to achieving a higher score on the SAT.

Want to learn how to improve your reading speed and comprehension capacity to help attain that perfect SAT score? Check out our Speed Reading, Memory, and Productivity Courses.

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