Tips on Handling Passage-Based Reading Questions
Passage-Based Reading Exercises
Answers to Passage-Based Reading Exercises
Answer Explanations



SAT passage-based reading questions test your ability to understand what you read—both content and technique. Each critical reading section on the SAT will include one or two long reading passages of different length, followed by six to thirteen questions of assorted types. Two of the three critical reading sections will also include a pair of quite short reading passages—about 100 words in length—each followed by a couple of reading questions.

Passages on the tests fall into certain types. Some will be narrative: a passage from a novel, a short story, an autobiography, or a personal essay. Some will deal with the sciences (including medicine, botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy); others, with the humanities(including art, literature, music, philosophy, folklore); still others, with the social sciences (including history, economics, sociology, government). Some of the above passages may be what the College Board calls argumentative; these passages present definite points of view on the subjects. One passage most likely will be “ethnic” in content: whether it is a history passage, a personal narrative, or a passage on music, art, or literature, it will deal with concerns of a particular minority group.

The questions that follow each passage are not arranged in order of difficulty. Rather, they are arranged to suit the way the passage’s content is organized. Thus, a question based on information presented at the beginning of the passage will come before a question based on information at the end. However, questions based on the short reading passages tend to be easier than those based on the longer passages. Tackle the short reading passages first.