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The Ultimate SAT Literature Subject Test Study Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Mar 22, 2016 7:00:00 PM

SAT Subject Tests

 

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The SAT Subject Test in Literature, formerly known as the SAT II Literature Exam, is one of the most popular subject tests offered. This may be because you don’t necessarily need specialized knowledge like foreign language fluency to do well on it. However, it also has a reputation for being fairly difficult.

Luckily I, 800-scoring sorceress of the SAT Literature Subject Test, am here to take you through all the particulars of the exam: whether the exam is right for you, the format and content, question styles, study tips, practice resources, and tips for exam day. Let’s get the magic started!

 

Table of Contents

 

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Should You Take the SAT Literature Subject Test?

There are, in general, a few reasons why you might take one or more Subject Tests. You might take them because a school you are applying to requires or recommends them, or you might take them because you want to show mastery in a subject that you are particularly gifted in.

Beyond that, should you choose SAT Literature in particular? Ask yourself these three questions to decide:

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Burning questions.

 

#1: Do I Like (or at Least Not Hate) English?

Most people don’t love all subjects equally. You might feel like you “should” take SAT Literature if your other Subject Tests are all math and science so you can show that you have diverse skills or whatever, even if English bores you to tears. But trust me—it’s going to be much less painful for you, and better for your college applications, if you take SAT Subject Tests in things you are really interested in. This will give a truer picture of who you are as a student anyways. 

 

#2: Will I Do Well?

Obviously, you aren’t an oracle and can’t necessarily know if the SAT Subject Test in Literature is going to be a home run for you, but before you register you should think about whether or not you are positioned to do well.

The College Board recommends 3-4 years of literary study “at the college prep level.” I took the test in the fall of my junior year and was fine, but I wouldn’t advise taking it earlier than that.

If you’ve done well in your high school English classes, you can reasonably expect do well on the exam with the help of some preparation. But you might still want to take a practice test before you register to get a ballpark idea of how much work you have to do. Don’t expect an 800 right off the bat, but if you do really poorly, you should consider going with a different test or postponing it so you have time to prepare.

 

#3: When Am I Applying to College?

This won’t so much determine whether or not to take the exam at all as whether or not to take it soon. If you take the exam too early in your high school career, you won’t necessarily have the skills base you need to do well. If you take it too late, you might not have time to re-take it if you don’t score as well as you would like. I would advise you to do your first go-round sometime in your junior year. (You can take it later in the school year or over the summer if you think you need more time to prepare.)

If you decide to take the exam, you’ll want to get familiar with the test format. Read on, noble scholars of literature!

 

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So noble. Very scholarly. Wow.

 

Test Format

Like the other Subject Tests, the SAT Literature Subject Test is one hour long. You will need to answer about 60 multiple-choice questions, although the number varies a little among administrations of the test. Every correct answer is worth a point, and incorrect answers are worth -.25 points to discourage random guessing. Unanswered questions are worth 0 points.

On the test, your task will be to answer questions on six to eight passages of English literature. Passages will generally not have authors or titles, but you will be able to find the original date of publication (or estimated date of composition) at the end of each excerpt. Every fifth line will be marked so that you can find your way around the passage when you are answering questions.

Each passage has its own set of questions; it’s like six to eight little mini-tests ranging from four to twelve questions per passage. The first and last questions for each excerpt will generally be about the passage as a whole, while the ones in the middle will usually ask questions about specific parts of the passage.

Unsurprisingly, the questions on this exam will ask you to analyze elements of literary passages. This could be anything from identifying the overall theme to dissecting the meaning of a phrase in context to analyzing the use of figurative language. I’ll go over more specifics later on, but that’s the general idea.

On the exam you could see prose, poetry, drama, etc., from the Renaissance up to the 20th century. You can expect to see literature from America, England, and occasionally other English-speaking countries. Works have to be originally written in English to be included in the exam, so no excerpts from Les Miserables or One Hundred Years of Solitude. The topics and genres are not randomly distributed, though—the next section will go into what percentages of different sorts of material you can expect to see on the test.

 

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You might see an excerpt from one of these on the exam!

 

Passage Content

Passages will generally not be from highly recognizable works, but they will be chosen because they have some literary merit in the eyes of the College Board.

In general, the College Board takes pains to select passages that are pretty uncontroversial in their theme and content, and they avoid anything that requires a deep level of specialized cultural or religious knowledge to interpret (so no drawn-out allegories about Christianity or anything like that).

The six to eight passages you will need to examine for the SAT Literature Test can be divided along several categorical lines: author’s nationality (American, English, or other), genre, and time period. It breaks down like this:

 

Author's Nationality

40-50% of passages will be written by an American author, 40-50% by a British author, and 0-10% by another author writing in English. So you can expect about half and half British and American authors, with maybe one passage from another country. As you may note, this is very much a Western-lit centric test.

 

Genre

40-50% percent of passages will be prose passages; these will mostly be short excerpts from fiction or essays. 40-50% will be poetry. In general, these will be full poems, although sometimes the College Board will take a shorter section from a long work of verse. 0-10% percent will be drama or other—the other could be a folktale, myth, etc. So, as with author’s nationality, you can expect about half and half between poetry and prose, with maybe one passage of something different.

 

Time Period

This breakdown is a little different. You can expect 30% of passages to come from the Renaissance (late 15th century) through the 1600s. This will break down to about two passages. Another 30% will come from the 1700s-1800s, so expect about another two passages there. The remaining 40%—around three passages—will come from the 20th century.

As you can see, the test is a little more heavily weighted towards the modern era, but you should be prepared for literature anywhere from the very late 1400s-1900s. Don’t worry: you won’t need to read Middle English or Old English for the earlier works. Passages will be comprehensible. The language won’t be any older than Shakespearean English.

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You might see stuff by this guy.

 

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Question Formats

All of the questions on the Literature Subject Test are multiple-choice with five answer choices.  Within that framework, there are four kinds of questions you can expect to see. I’ve included an example question of each type, although I haven’t included the passage.

I will use most of the same questions with the passage later on in the article, so if you’d like to see the passage, scroll down. (Or Google “Aedh Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven” by W.B. Yeats). 

Note: I wrote all of the questions in this article, but they are closely based on real SAT Literature questions written by the College Board.

 

#1: Standard Multiple-Choice Questions About the Entire Passage

These are questions that apply to the whole passage; they often ask about things like theme or tone, or other concepts that can be generalized to the entire excerpt.

EXAMPLE: 

The best description of the tone of the poem is:

  1. joyful and fanciful
  2. despairing and grim
  3. serious and triumphant
  4. earnest and supplicating
  5. witty and lighthearted

 

#2: Standard Multiple-Choice Questions Referring to a Specific Line or Moment in the Passage

You will be pointed to a specific part of the passage and asked a question about just that part.

Usually, these questions will have a line reference included, but sometimes you are just given the specific phrase, and you will need to find it in the passage yourself to answer the question. 

EXAMPLE:

In the context of the poem, the adverb “enwrought” (line 2) most nearly means:

  1. decorated
  2. rewarded
  3. purchased
  4. compensated
  5. destroyed

 

#3: NOT or EXCEPT Questions

For these questions, you will need to select the answer choice that does NOT apply to the passage. "NOT" or "EXCEPT" will helpfully be capitalized, so you should be able to spot these fairly easily. Just remember to read carefully!

EXAMPLE:

The following words all describe the cloths of heaven EXCEPT:

  1. embroidered
  2. blue
  3. dim
  4. dark
  5. poor

 

#4: Roman Numeral Questions

For these questions, you will first be asked a question, then given a series of statements identified with Roman numerals that are potential answers to the question. 

Then your five lettered choices, A-E, will present different combinations of the Roman numerals. This essentially allows the College Board to ask “multiple-multiple choice” questions where more than one Roman numeral statement correctly answers the question. 

EXAMPLE:

Which of the following statements can be inferred about the speaker from the poem?

  1. The speaker thinks the person he is addressing is very beautiful.
  2. The speaker is not wealthy.
  3. The speaker’s dreams are very precious to him. 
  1. I only
  2. I and II only
  3. III only
  4. I, II, and III
  5. II and III only

 

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You will not be taking the test on a typewriter.

 

Question Content and Skills Tested

The SAT Literature Test won’t ask you any questions about literary history, although a basic working knowledge of literary movements probably won’t hurt you, as it may help you orient yourself on the passages. Instead, your task will be to analyze the passages.

To answer these analytical questions, the College Board says you will need to know “basic literary terminology” and “literary concepts.” This may seem kind of intimidating, but the truth is that it’s likely you’ve heard many of these concepts before—things like tone, theme, stanza, hyperbole, alliteration, etc. And if you haven’t, they are pretty easy to learn. (see the “Four Essential Strategies for Preparation” section below)

It might sound very scary and daunting, but it’s not so bad. The questions generally fall into eight easily digestible sub-categories I have identified.

 

The Eight Question Categories

These categories apply to both prose and poetry, although you will see some kinds of questions appear more often with prose passages (like character analysis) while others appear more often with poetry (like figurative language).

In the interest of readability, examples will be grouped together in the middle of this section and at the end so that questions can appear with the relevant passages.

 

Category #1: Reading Comprehension

“But Ellen,” you might be wondering, “Aren’t all of these questions more or less about reading comprehension?” Yes, yes they are. But some questions, instead of asking you to do deeper analysis, will ask more basic questions about things like who is speaking, who is being addressed at a given point in the text, or what events are being described.

I would also include in this category the VERY rare (maybe one per test) grammar question. That’s right—very occasionally, the SAT Literature Test will ask you a functional grammatical question on something like subject-verb agreement, identifying the main verb, etc. The purpose of this question is generally to clarify a complex sentence for you, so the passage is easier to analyze.

 

Category #2: Meaning of Words and Phrases in Context

This is a super-popular category; you can expect about one of this question type per passage. You’ll be told a word and asked what it means in the specific context of the passage; this could be either the denotation (literal meaning) or connotation (implied meaning).

Sometimes you’ll be asked one of these questions because the word is being used in a strange way. Sometimes you’ll be asked because the word itself is unusual. You can almost always figure these questions out from context clues even if you aren’t immediately familiar with the usage.

 

Category #3: Questions On Overall, Sweeping Elements of the Passage

A couple of questions per passage will ask you to make a sweeping analysis of the excerpt. These questions might ask about the tone of the passage, the theme, the mood, overall descriptions of the language used, the overarching purpose or argument, etc.  

You may also occasionally be asked a question about the structure or the genre of the piece (i.e. Is this prose passage a work of satire, a personal narrative, etc.)  

 

Category #4: Literary and Rhetorical Devices

This is where knowledge of “basic literary terminology” will come most in handy. These questions ask you to identify and/or analyze the use of literary and rhetorical devices. You may be given a phrase and asked what device is being used (e.g. is it hyperbole, alliteration, personification…).

You may also be asked to note where in the text a specific device is being deployed. You will need a little specialized knowledge for this, and it’s an important area to do some targeted studying in before you take the exam.

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Ah, the stars. Perennial subject of poetic imagery.

 

Examples 1-4

Examples 1-4 are based on the following passage:

      Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,   
      Enwrought with golden and silver light,   
      The blue and the dim and the dark cloths   
      Of night and light and the half light,   
(5)  I would spread the cloths under your feet:
      But I, being poor, have only my dreams;   
      I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
      Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

      (1899)

 

EXAMPLE 1: READING COMPREHENSION

The following words all describe the cloths of heaven EXCEPT

  1. embroidered
  2. blue
  3. dim
  4. dark
  5. poor

Explanation: This is a reading comprehension question because it relies on your ability to understand what words are describing the “cloths of heaven” at various points in the poem and what words are not. “Poor” describes the speaker; everything else describes the cloths: the “embroidered cloths,” the “blue” cloths, the “dim” cloths, and the “dark” cloths. So the correct answer is E. This question tests your ability to reach a fairly basic understanding of what is being said in the poem as opposed to any sort of deeper literary analysis.

 

EXAMPLE 2: MEANING OF WORDS/PHRASES IN CONTEXT

In the context of the poem, the adverb “enwrought” (line 2) most nearly means:

  1. decorated
  2. rewarded
  3. purchased
  4. compensated
  5. destroyed

Explanation: Any time you have a line reference and are asked what word or phrase “means,” what it “connotes,” or what it is “best understood to mean,” it’s probably a vocab/phrase in context question (unless you’re being asked what a metaphor or simile means). “Enwrought” is sort of a weird old word—exactly the kind of word the College Board likes to target for this kind of question. The correct answer is A, “decorated.” It’s the only answer that really makes sense in the context of the poem, even if you have no idea what “enwrought” means when you first look at it.

 

EXAMPLE 3: QUESTIONS ON THE OVERALL PASSAGE 

The best description of the tone of the poem is:

  1. joyful and fanciful
  2. despairing and grim
  3. serious and triumphant
  4. earnest and supplicating
  5. witty and lighthearted

Explanation: This question asks you to identify the tone of the entire poem, so it’s an overall passage question. Since the poem is so short, you might go back and quickly re-read it to answer this question. You might notice that the tone is rather serious in nature; this poem is not meant to be funny or cute but is a deep expression of devotion. By the same token, the tone is not particularly happy or sad, but instead expectant: the speaker is making a request (tread softly on my dreams) and does not yet know if his request will be honored. A glance through the answers shows that the only answer choice that really makes sense is D.

 

EXAMPLE 4: LITERARY DEVICES

Which of the following devices does the poem use most frequently?

  1. repetition
  2. personification
  3. alliteration
  4. apostrophe
  5. hyperbole

Explanation: This is a pretty typical question you might see in the “literary devices” category. You’re given a list of literary terms, and then you have to pick the one that is most appropriate to the poem.  Even if you don’t know all of the terms, it is pretty clear that the answer is A; the poem involves the repeated invocation of “cloths,” “light,” “feet,” and “dreams.” It would be hard to top that level of repetition with pretty much any other device.

 

With the first four examples covered, we'll move on to the last four question categories.

 

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Tread softly on these dreams.

 

Category #5: Metaphor and Simile — Identification and Interpretation

Yes, metaphor and simile are technically literary devices, but I have given them their own subcategory because questions about them are so prevalent on the SAT Literature Test. In general, these questions fall into two categories: identification and definition.

For identification questions, you will simply need to identify the metaphor or simile among the choices given; you may also need to identify what is NOT a metaphor or a simile for NOT/EXCEPT questions.

For definition questions, you will need to choose the answer that best describes what a particular metaphor or simile means or conveys in the text.

 

Category #6: Analyzing the Narrator (Prose) or Speaker (Poetry)

The “narrator” and the “speaker” are two different names for the same term; the narrator is the voice that relates a prose passage and the speaker is the voice that relates a poem. This is not the same as the author. The narrator/speaker is a construct created by the author to relate the passage. In a sense, the narrator/speaker functions as a lens through which the passage is conveyed to you, the reader.

You may be asked questions about the narrator or speaker’s tone, motives, position within the text, point of view, attitude, voice, etc. Essentially, who is the person relating the passage, how are they saying it, why are they saying it, and who are they speaking to?

 

Category #7: Analyzing Character

You will be asked to analyze character more often in prose than poetry, but poems do sometimes have characters, so this category applies to both kinds of passages. You will almost certainly be asked to analyze character in dramatic excerpts. 

You may be asked to identify characteristics of a character as conveyed by the author (characterization), a character’s motives, tone, and so on.

 

Category #8: Analyzing Dialogue

This is similar to character analysis as character is often conveyed through dialogue, but you may also be asked to identify the tone of a piece of dialogue, its meaning, or its specific function within the piece. This is another category you can expect to see a lot of for drama, and some for prose, but only a little for poetry, if at all.

 

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I bet this dialogue would be interesting to analyze.

 

Examples 5-8

Examples 5-8 are based on the following passage:

"Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?" she said, suddenly, after some minutes’ reflection.

"Yes, now and then," I answered.

"And so do I. I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and (5) changed my ideas: they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it—but take care not to smile at any part of it."

"Oh! don’t, Miss Catherine!" I cried. "We’re dismal enough without conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be merry and like yourself! Look  (10) at little Hareton! He’s dreaming nothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!"

"Yes; and how sweetly his father curses in his solitude! You remember him, I daresay, when he was just such another as that chubby thing: nearly as young and innocent. However, Nelly, I shall oblige you to listen: it’s not long; and I’ve no power to be merry to-night."

(15) "I won’t hear it, I won’t hear it!" I repeated, hastily.

I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe. She was vexed, but she did not proceed. Apparently taking up another subject, she recommenced in a short time.

(20) "If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable."

"Because you are not fit to go there," I answered. "All sinners would be miserable in heaven."

(1847)

 

EXAMPLE 5: FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

The simile “like wine through water” (line 5) reveals that Catherine’s dreams...

  1. make her intoxicated
  2. reveal the future
  3. affect her powerfully.
  4. frighten her
  5. are very strange

Explanation: SAT Literature will frequently ask you to either identify metaphors/similes or analyze what they mean. It’s important in questions like this one to consider only what the specific figurative language means and not whether the other answers are true based on the rest of the passage. Her dreams may be strange (she calls them “queer”), but that is not what the simile means. She says that they are like wine through water in that they “change the colour of her mind.” This suggests that the simile means the dreams influence her, much the way that adding wine to water would change the water. The correct answer is C.

 

EXAMPLE 6: NARRATOR/SPEAKER ANALYSIS

Which of the following statements can be inferred about the narrator from the passage?

  1. The narrator is uncomfortable with the supernatural.
  2. The narrator believes Catherine is a good and moral person.
  3. The narrator dislikes children.
  1. I only
  2. I and II only
  3. III only
  4. I, II, and III
  5. II and III only.

Explanation: Narrator analysis questions will frequently ask you to identify the viewpoints or opinions of the narrator based on the passage. It’s important in these questions to rely only on what is in the text and not make unsupported inferences.  It is pretty clear, for example, that the narrator is “uncomfortable with the supernatural” because she describes herself as “superstitious of dreams” and she fears they might be prophetic. It is also clear that the narrator does not believe Catherine to be good and moral because she says Catherine is a sinner who does not belong in heaven. It does not seem that she dislikes children; she describes Hareton as “smiling sweetly.” The only Roman numeral statement that there is enough evidence in the passage to agree with is I, so the answer is A.

 

EXAMPLE 7: CHARACTER ANALYSIS

We can understand from Nelly’s admonishment, “be merry and like yourself” (line 9), that Catherine’s current mood is...

  1. a portent of things to come
  2. unusual given her typical disposition
  3. normal for her
  4. dangerous to the baby Hareton
  5. evidence of her moral perversity

Explanation: This is a character question as we are being asked to analyze Catherine’s character based on a specific moment in the passage (Nelly’s admonishment). In a question like this which points to a particular line or place in the text, it’s important to examine what that particular line means and not make inferences about the character based on the rest of the text. It may well be that Catherine’s mood is portentous or evidence of her perversity, but this is not suggested by the phrase “be merry and like yourself.” It tells us that she is 1) not merry and that this is 2) unusual. So, the correct answer is B.

 

EXAMPLE 8: DIALOGUE ANALYSIS

The tone of “Because you are not fit to go there,” (line 21) can be best described as

  1. apprehensive
  2. sharp
  3. patronizing
  4. reverent
  5. whimsical

Explanation: This is a dialogue question because you are being asked to analyze the dialogue (specifically its tone) in a way that is not related to a given character. It can be hard to identify the tone of a piece of dialogue when there aren’t many cues surrounding the dialogue, as in this passage. It might be easiest to simply imagine the dialogue being said in each tone and pick which makes the most sense/is the most consistent with the rest of the passage. It should be pretty clear if you do this that the answer is B, “sharp.”

 

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Don't worry, the passages will not be rendered in the authors' original handwriting.

 

So, those are the eight question types you can expect to see on the SAT Literature Subject Test. But how should you prepare for them?  I'll cover four essential prep strategies in the next section.

 

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Four Essential Strategies for Preparation

You will learn a decent amount of the knowledge necessary to do well on the exam just from your high school English class, but there are still some things you can (and should) do if you really want to hit it out of the park. There are four essential things you can do to prepare:

 

Strategy #1: Read Old Stuff

The College Board recommends “close, critical reading of English and American literature from a variety of historical periods and genres.” It’s not likely you’ll read anything that will end up on the exam, but reading a wide range of poetry and prose originally composed in English from relevant time periods (so, Shakespearean era through the 20th century) will help you feel familiar with English-language literary writing from all the time periods covered on the exam.  Also, if you look up any words you don’t know when you encounter them in a text, you’ll have a leg up on meaning in context questions. So I would try to read classic literature and poetry from many time periods for a few hours a week.

 

Strategy #2: Learn Literary Terms and Concepts

Even if you think you know them all, you should review basic literary terms and make sure you know how various devices are deployed. 

Some good resources for learning literary terms:

 

Strategy #3: Learn and Practice Literary Analysis (Especially Poetry)

You’ve hopefully learned literary analysis techniques in your high school classes, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on these skills. A primary skill needed for the SAT Lit Test is your ability to close-read texts—to identify what the author is doing and why they are doing it. Most close-reading that you do in school is going to involve building your own argument about a text as opposed to answering analytical questions, but the skills are similar.

Some helpful resources on close-reading:

Furthermore, many students, even those who are strong in English, are not particularly comfortable with poetry. Never fear! There are resources available to help you get more comfortable with poetry. First things first—reading more poetry will make you more comfortable with it (shocking, I know).

 

Strategy #4: Take Practice Tests

If you want to prepare, take practice tests! Familiarity with the exam format and the way the questions are worded will help keep you from being tripped up on exam day.

 

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 Practice, practice, practice!

 

Where to Find Practice Tests and Resources

The best resources come straight from the source—the College Board. Since they create and administer the SAT Literature Subject Test, it makes sense that they would have the best study resources. They have a set of 23 practice questions on their online prep interface.  You can get the same practice questions in PDF form in their booklet on preparing for the Subject Tests.  

If you want a complete and official SAT Literature practice test, you will need to purchase The Official Study Guide for ALL SAT Subject Tests, 2nd Edition from the College Board for fourteen dollars. They have sample questions with explanations and a complete practice test for every Subject Test.

Other than that, official resources are limited. Practice questions in the Kaplan guide bear very little resemblance to actual questions, so I don’t advise going there. The Princeton Review guide questions are much better, but still not official.

 

Tips For Test-Taking

All of your general test-taking tips apply here: get a lot of sleep, bring a snack to the testing center, arrive early, and so on. There are also some best practices more specific to the SAT Subject Test in Literature.

Read the Passage Carefully

This might seem really obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people get tripped up just because they did not read the passage very closely. You may find it helpful to mark the text: make notes, or circle or underline things that stand out. Interacting with the text this way will help you process it. 

Some people like to read the questions before the passage so that they know what they are looking for. If you find this helpful, go ahead and do it! I personally find that it wastes time and distracts me from fully absorbing the passage, but your mileage may vary. The time to experiment with your approach is probably not test day but while you are taking practice tests. 

Also, there’s no law that you have to address all the passages in order. If you come upon one that just seems hard to process, it’s fine to skip it and come back later. However, if you do this, be sure you line up your answers on the answer sheet correctly. You don’t want to have to erase half a scantron because you didn’t count right when you skipped a passage!

 

Think of the Answer Before You Look at the Choices

When you read the question, you might find it helpful to think of what you think the answer should be before you look at the answers listed. At the very least, this will help you eliminate answers that are clearly wrong.

 

Read All the Answers Carefully

This one probably sounds obvious too, but, when you're pressed for time, it's tempting to just circle the first answer that looks like it could be right. Don't do this. Read all of the answers before you choose the best one.

 

Look Back at the Passage

When a question refers to a specific place in the passage, go back and look at it in context. Do not rely on your memory! Context is everything on this exam.

 

Don't Infer

Don’t make inferences that aren’t supported by the text. It can be very tempting to choose answers that the text doesn’t explicitly disallow, but you need to choose the answer choice that is the most supported by what is actually in the passage.

 

Don't Waste Time

Since there is some time pressure on this exam, don’t waste too much time on any one question. If you find yourself stumped, just skip the question and come back. Odds are, it will be much clearer to you on the second pass.

 

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Time is of the essence!

 

If you use good test-taking strategies, you'll maximize the value of the time you spent preparing. You want all of those skills you cultivated to be accurately reflected in your score, right?

 

Wrapping It Up: SAT Literature

So that’s the SAT Subject Test in Literature: one hour to answer 60 analytical questions on 6-8 passages. Be prepared for a wide range of time periods and make sure you can confront prose, poetry, and the occasional dramatic work.

Make sure you’re ready to answer questions in any of the eight question categories: reading comprehension, words/phrases in context, questions on the passage overall, literary devices, figurative language, narrator/speaker analysis, character analysis, and dialogue analysis.

What can you do to prepare? Read works from a variety of time periods, learn literary terms, get comfortable analyzing prose and poetry, and take practice tests!

On test day, remember to read the passage carefully, skip questions that stump you to return to later, and don’t make inferences beyond the text.

With all this in mind, you’ll be ready to ace SAT Literature!

 

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Be inspired by this magical cat!

 

Disappointed with your scores? Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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What's Next?

Once you decide to take the SAT Literature test, you'll need to choose a test date.

Taking the SAT Biology Subject Test? See our ultimate SAT Subject Test guide for SAT Biology

Trying to figure out what's a good SAT Subject Test score? Let us break it down for you. Once you need to send your scores, see out step-by-step guide to sending SAT Subject Test scores.

Taking the regular SAT or the ACT? See our article on SAT/ACT prep methods

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

Free eBook: 5 Tips to 4+ Points on the ACT

 

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Ellen McCammon
About the Author

Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.



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