SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

How to Improve Your SAT Reading Score: 8 Strategies

Posted by Allen Cheng | Oct 10, 2017 5:27:00 PM

SAT Strategies, SAT Reading



Updated for the New 2016 SAT!

Are you struggling with SAT Reading + Writing scores between 300-500? You're not alone - hundreds of thousands of students are scoring in this range. But many don't know the best ways to break out of this score range and score a 600 or above.

Here we'll discuss how to improve SAT Critical Reading score effectively, and why it's so important to do so. Unlike other fluffy articles out there, I'm focusing on actionable strategies that will raise your score. Put these 8 strategies to work and I'm confident you'll be able to improve your score.

Brief note: This article is suited for students scoring below a 600. If you're already above this range, my perfect SAT Reading score article is more appropriate for you.

Also, the New 2016 SAT now has a single 800 Reading + Writing score, combining the individual Reading and Writing test scores. Technically, when I mention a 600 Reading test score, I'm referring to a 30/40 Reading test score, which combines with your Writing test score to get to 600. In this guide, I'll use 600 and 30 interchangeably to mean the same thing for our Reading score. We won't talk about Writing here, but if you want to improve your Writing score too, check out my How to Improve Your SAT Writing Score guide.


In this article, I'm going to discuss why scoring high is a good idea, what it takes to score a 600, and then go into SAT Reading tips and strategies.

Stick with me - this is like building a house. First you need to lay a good foundation before putting up the walls of the house and pretty windows. Similarly, we need to first understand why you're doing what you're doing, before diving into tips and strategies.

(In this guide, I talk mainly about getting to a 600. But if your goal is a 500 or lower, these concepts still equally apply).


Understand the Stakes

At this SAT score range, improving your low SAT Reading + Writing score to a 600 range will dramatically boost your chances of getting into better colleges.

Let's take a popular school, Penn State University, as an example.

Its average SAT score is a 1270. Its 25th percentile score is a 1180, and 75th percentile is an 1370.

Furthermore, its acceptance rate is 55%. In other words, a little over half of all applicants are admitted. But the lower your scores, the worse your chances.

In our analysis, if you score around a 1000, your chance of admission drops to 27%, or around 1/4 chance.

But if you raise your score to an 1200, your chance of admission goes up to 60% - a really good chance of admission!

So improving your score by just 200 points makes a HUGE difference in your chances of getting into your target colleges.

For the Reading section, this is especially true if you want to apply to humanities majors and programs, like English or communications. They expect your Reading score to be strong, and if you score low, they'll doubt your ability to do college-level humanities work.

Even if you're a math superstar and are applying to a science major, they still need to know that you can process difficult texts at a college level. A low Reading score will cast a huge doubt on you.

It's really worth your time to improve your SAT score. Hour for hour, it's the best thing you can do to raise your chance of getting into college.

Curious what chances you have with an 1800 SAT score (on the 2400 scale)? Check out our expert college admissions guide for an 1800 SAT score.




Know that You Can Do It

This isn't just supposed to be a vague happy-go-lucky message you see on a juice carton.

I mean, literally, you and every other student can do this.

In my work with PrepScholar, I've worked with thousands of students scoring in the lower ranges of 300-500.

Time after time, I see students who beat themselves up over their low score and think improving it is impossible. "I know I'm not smart." "I just can't read passages quickly, and I don't know how to improve my SAT Reading score." "I was never good at English, and my English teachers have never told me I did a good job."

It breaks my heart.

Because I know that more than anything else, your SAT score is a reflection of how hard you work and how smartly you study.

Not your IQ and not your school grades. Not how Mr. Anderson in 10th grade gave you a C on your essay.


SAT Reading is Designed to Trick You. You Need to Learn How

Here's why: the SAT is a weird test. When you take it, don't you get the sense that the questions are nothing like what you've seen in school?

I bet you've had this problem: in SAT Reading passages, you often miss questions because of an 'unlucky guess.' You'll try to eliminate a few answer choices, and the remaining answer choices will all sound equally good to you.

Well, you throw up your hands and randomly guess.

The SAT is purposely designed this way to confuse you. Literally millions of other students have the exact same problem you do. And the SAT knows this.

Normally in your school's English class, the teacher tells you that all interpretations of the text are valid. You can write an essay about anything you want, and English teachers aren't allowed to tell you that your opinion is wrong. This is because they can get in trouble for telling you what to think.

But the SAT has an entirely different problem. It's a national test, which means it needs a level playing field for all students around the country. It needs a solid test to compare students with each other. Every question needs a single, unambiguously, 100% correct answer.



There's only ever one correct answer. Find a way to eliminate 3 incorrect answers.


Imagine if this weren't the case. Imagine that each reading answer had two answer choices that might each be plausibly correct. When the scores came out, every single student who got the question wrong would complain to the College Board about the test being wrong.

If this were true, the College Board would then have to invalidate the question, which weakens the power of the test.

The College Board wants to avoid this nightmare scenario. Therefore, every single Reading passage question has only one, single correct answer.

But the SAT disguises this fact. It asks questions like:

  1. The author would most likely agree with which of the following statements?
  2. The first paragraph primarily serves to:
  3. In line 20, 'dark' most nearly means:

Notice a pattern here? The SAT always disguises the fact that there's always one unambiguous answer. It tries to MAKE you waver between two or three answer choices that are most likely.

And then you guess randomly.

And then you get it wrong.


You can bet that students fall for this. Millions of times every year.

Students who don't prepare for the SAT in the right way don't appreciate this. BUT if you prepare for the SAT in the right way, you'll learn the tricks the SAT plays on you. And you'll raise your score.

The SAT Reading section is full of patterns like these. To improve your score, you just need to:

  • learn the types of questions that the SAT tests, like the one above
  • learn strategies to solve these questions, using skills you already know
  • practice on a lot of questions so you learn from your mistakes

The point is that you can learn these skills, even if you don't consider yourself a good reader or a great English student. I'll go into more detail about exactly how to do this. 

First, let's see how many questions you need to get right.


What It Takes to Get a 600 (or 30) in SAT Reading

If we have a target score in mind, it helps to understand what you need to get that score on the actual test. Remember that we're aiming for a Reading test score of 30, out of 40.

Here's the raw score to SAT Reading Score conversion table. (If you could use a refresher on how the SAT is scored and how raw scores are calculated, read this guide.)

Raw Scaled Raw Scaled Raw Scaled Raw Scaled
52 40 38 31 24 24 10 17
51 39 37 30 23 24 9 16
50 39 36 30 22 23 8 16
49 38 35 29 21 23 7 15
48 37 34 29 20 23 6 14
47 36 33 28 19 22 5 13
46 35 32 28 18 22 4 12
45 35 31 28 17 21 3 11
44 34 30 27 16 21 2 10
43 33 29 27 15 20 1 10
42 33 28 26 14 20 0 10
41 32 27 26 13 19    
40 32 26 25 12 18    
39 31 25 25 11 18    


Notice that if you're aiming for a 600 overall and a 30/40 on Reading, you need a raw score of 36/52. This is a 70% score.

This has serious implications for your testing strategy. In essence, you only need to answer about 2/3 of all questions right. We'll go into more detail below about what this means for your testing strategy below.

Whatever you're scoring now, take note of the difference you need to get to a 30. For example, if you're scoring a 23, you need to answer about 15 more questions right throughout the SAT Reading sections to get to a 30.

Once again, if your goal is a 500 (and thus 25/40), the same analysis applies.


OK - so we've covered why scoring a higher SAT Reading score is important, why you specifically are capable of improving your score, and the raw score you need to get to your target. I hope a lot of this was useful and changed how you think about your SAT prep.

Now we'll actually get into actionable strategies that you should use in your own studying to maximize your score improvement.


8 Strategies to Improve Your Low SAT Reading Score

Strategy 1: Save Time On Reading Passages. Switch Your Reading Strategy

From the thousands of students I've worked with, by far the most common problem people have with SAT Reading passages is that they keep running out of time before they can get through all the questions.

This is a problem, because unlike SAT Math, the passage questions aren't arranged in order of difficulty. Therefore, by not completing all the questions in time, you might miss some easy questions at the end that you would have gotten right. If only you'd had enough time.

What's the cause of this? The most common one I see is that students are reading the passages far more closely than they need to. Once again, this is caused by homework and what you learn in English class in school. In English, you've probably gotten (stupid) tests that quiz you about what Baron Meistoff said in a particular scene, or what color Tom's t-shirt was. So of course you've learned to pay attention to every single detail.

The SAT is different. For a passage that's 80 lines long, there might only be 10 questions. Many of these don't even refer to specific lines - they talk about the point of the passage as a whole, or about the tone of the author.

The number of questions that focus on small, line-by-line details is low. Therefore, it's a waste of time to read a passage line-by-line, afraid that you'll miss a detail they'll ask you about.


The best way to read a passage: skimming it on the first read-through.

This is why I recommend ALL students try this SAT Reading passage strategy:

  • Skim the passage on the first read through. Don't try to understand every single line, or write notes predicting what the questions will be. Just get a general understanding of the passage. You want to try to finish reading the passage in 3 minutes, if possible.
  • Next, go to the questions. If the question refers to a line number, then go back to that line number and understand the text around it.
  • If you can't answer a question within 30 seconds, skip it. (More on this strategy later).


This is important because the questions will ask about far fewer lines than the passage actually contains. For example, lines 5-20 of a reading passage might not be relevant to any question that follows. Therefore, if you spend time trying to deeply understand lines 5-20, you’ll be wasting time.

Some students even take this strategy to the extreme. They'll read the questions first before the passage. If a line refers to any specific lines, they'll mark those on the passage. This then gives them a guide to focus on important lines when they're reading the passage.

Different strategies work for different students. You need to try each one and see which one leads to the best results for you. But by and large, I'm confident that you're spending way too much reading the passage.

Bonus: here's a detailed step-by-step guide on how to read the SAT Reading passage.


Strategy 2: Learn to Eliminate 3 Wrong Answers

I spent some time talking above about how the SAT always has one unambiguous answer. This has a huge implication for the strategy you should use to find the right SAT Reading answer.

Here's the other way to see it: Out of the 4 answer choices, 3 of them have something that is totally wrong about them. Only 1 answer is 100% correct, which means the other 3 are 100% wrong.

You know how you try to eliminate answer choices, and then end up with a few at the end that all seem equally likely to be correct?

You're not doing a good enough job of eliminating answer choices. Remember - every single wrong choice can be crossed out for its own reasons.


You have to learn how to eliminate 4 answer choices for every single question. 


"Great, Allen. But this doesn't tell me anything about HOW to eliminate answer choices."

Thanks for asking. There are a few classic wrong answer choices the SAT loves to use. Here's an example question.

For example, let’s imagine you just read a passage talking about how human evolution shaped the environment. It gives a few examples. First, it talks about how the transition from earlier species like Homo habilus to neanderthals led to more tool usage like fire, which caused wildfires and shaped the ecology. It then talks about Homo sapiens 40,000 years ago and their overhunting of species like woolly mammoths to extinction.

So then we run into a question asking, "Which of the following best describes the main subject of the passage?" Here are the answer choices:

  • A: The transition between Homo habilus and neanderthals
  • B: The study of evolution
  • C: How the environment shaped human evolution
  • D: The plausibility of evolution
  • E: The influence of human development on ecology

(We're using 5 answer choices for illustration, even though the SAT only has 4 choices)

As you're reading these answer choices, a few of them probably started sounded really plausible to you.

Surprise! Each of the answers from A-D has something seriously wrong about it. Each one is a classic example of a wrong answer type given by the SAT.




Wrong Answer 1: Too Specific

A: The transition between Homo habilus and neanderthals

This type of wrong answer focuses on a smaller detail in the passage. It’s meant to trick you because you might think to yourself, "well, I see this mentioned in the passage, so it’s a plausible answer choice."

Wrong! Think to yourself – can this answer choice really describe the entire passage? Can it basically function as the title of this passage? You’ll find that it’s just way too specific to convey the point of the overall passage.



Wrong Answer 2: Too Broad

B: The study of evolution

This type of wrong answer has the opposite problem – it’s way too broad. Yes, theoretically the passage concerns the study of evolution, but only one aspect of it, and especially as it relates to the impact on the environment.

To give another ludicrous example, if you talked to your friend about your cell phone, and he said your main point was about the universe. Yes, you were talking about the universe, but only a tiny fraction of it. This is way too broad.




Wrong Answer 3: Reversed Relationship

C: How the environment shaped human evolution

This wrong answer choice can be tricky because it mentions all the right words. But of course the relationship between those words needs to be correct as well. Here, the relationship is flipped. Students who read too quickly make careless mistakes like these!




Wrong Answer 4: Unrelated Concept

D: The plausibility of evolution

Finally, this kind of wrong answer preys on the tendency of students to overthink the question. If you’re passionate about arguing about evolution, this might be a trigger answer since ANY discussion of evolution becomes a chance to argue about the plausibility of evolution. Of course, this concept will appear nowhere in the passage, but some students just won’t be able to resist.


Do you see the point? On the surface, each of the answer choices sounds possibly correct. But possibly isn't good enough. The right answer needs to be 100%, totally right. Wrong answers might be off by even one word - you need to eliminate these.

Carry this thought into every SAT Reading passage question you do.


Next strategy: find your weak links and fix them.

Strategy 3: Find Your Reading Skill Weaknesses and Drill Them

Reading passage questions might look similar, but they actually test very different skills. At PrepScholar we believe the major passage skills to be:

  1. Big Picture/Main Point
  2. Little Picture/Detail
  3. Inference
  4. Words and Phrases in Context
  5. Citing Textual Evidence
  6. Perspective
  7. Analyzing Word Choice
  8. Analyzing Text Structure
  9. Analyzing Multiple Texts
  10. Analyzing Quantitative Info

Whew, that's a lot of skills! More than is obvious when you're reading the passage.

Each of these question types uses different skills in how you read and analyze a passage. They each require a different method of prep and focused practice.

If you're like most students, you're better at some areas in Reading than others. You might be better at getting the Big Picture of a passage, compared to the Inference. Or you might be really strong at understanding author tone, but weak in understanding the meaning of a phrase in context.

If you're like most students, you also don't have an unlimited amount of time to study. You have a lot of homework, you might be an athlete or have band practice, and you have friends to hang out with.

This means for every hour you study for the SAT, it needs to be the most effective hour possible.

In concrete terms, you need to find your greatest areas of improvement and work on those.

Too many students study the 'dumb' way. They just buy a book and read it cover to cover. When they don't improve, they're SHOCKED.




I'm not.

Studying effectively for the SAT isn't like painting a house. You're not trying to cover all your bases with a very thin layer of understanding.

What these students did wrong was they wasted time on subjects they already knew, and they didn't spend enough time on their weaknesses.

Instead, studying effectively for the SAT is like plugging up the holes of a leaky boat. You need to find the biggest hole, and fill it. Then you find the next biggest hole, and you fix that. Soon you'll find that your boat isn't sinking at all.

How does this relate to SAT Reading? You need to find the sub-skills that you're weakest in, and then drill those until you're no longer weak in them. Fixing up the biggest holes.

Within reading, you need to figure out whether you have patterns to your mistakes. Is it that you're running out of time in reading passages? Or that you don't get Inference questions? Or maybe you're really weak at interpreting details?

For every question that you miss, you need to identify the type of question it is. When you notice patterns to the questions you miss, you then need to find extra practice for this subskill.

Say you miss a lot of inference questions (this is typically the hardest type of question for students to get). You need to find a way to get focused practice questions for this skill so you can drill your mistakes.

Bonus: If all of this is making sense to you, you'd love our SAT prep program, PrepScholar.

We designed our program around the concepts in this article, because they actually work. When you start with PrepScholar, you’ll take a diagnostic that will determine your weaknesses in over forty SAT skills - in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. PrepScholar then creates a study program specifically customized for you.

To improve each skill, you’ll take focused lessons dedicated to each skill, with over 20 practice questions per skill. This will train you for your specific area weaknesses, so your time is always spent most effectively to raise your score.

There’s no other prep system out there that does it this way, which is why we get better score results than any other program on the market.

Check it out today with a 5-day free trial:

Improve Your SAT Score by 160+ Points, Guaranteed


Strategy 4: Only Use High Quality SAT Reading Sources

SAT Reading passages are VERY specific in how they work. SAT Reading questions are VERY specifically phrased and constructed to have bait answers.

If you want to improve your Reading score, you HAVE to use realistic SAT Reading sources. If you don't, you'll develop bad habits and train the wrong skills.

Think about it like this: let's say you're trying out for the baseball team. Instead of practicing with real baseballs, you decide to practice with Wiffle balls instead. It seems a lot cheaper and easier, and hitting the ball makes you feel good.

So you train and train and train on Wiffle ball. You understand how the Wiffle ball curves when it's thrown, how to hit it, and how to throw it.

Then you try out for the baseball team. A pitch comes - it's way faster than you've ever practiced with before. It doesn't curve like a Wiffle ball does.

Swing and a miss.

You've trained on the wrong thing, and now you're totally unprepared for baseball.


body_600reading_wiffle.jpgThis is not real baseball.


SAT Reading works the exact same way. Train on badly written tests, and you'll develop bad habits and bad strategies.

The very, very best sources for SAT Reading passages is the Official SAT TestsThis is why as part of PrepScholar, we include these official practice tests to gauge your progress and train you on the real thing.

The problem is, for the New SAT there aren't that many practice tests available right now. Because you want to use these to train your endurance and sitting for a full-length test, you do need to conserve this precious resource.

This means to get enough SAT Reading practice, you DO need to use extra materials. 

The first suggestion is to use prep resources customized for the New SAT. Be careful, though - most companies release really poor quality passages and questions (most books you see on SAT Reading are pretty terrible).

This is especially harmful for SAT Reading because the style of passage and what questions are asked are complex, as opposed to SAT Math which is more straightforward.

To write realistic questions, you need to understand the test inside and out. That's why at PrepScholar, we've created what I believe are the highest quality Reading questions available anywhere. This is what we've done:

  • we've deconstructed every available official SAT Practice Test, question by question, answer choice by answer choice. We've statistically studied every question type on the test and we understand exactly how questions are phrased and how wrong answer choices are constructed. 

  • as head of product, I'm responsible for content quality. I hire only the most qualified content writers to craft our test content. This means people who have scored perfect scores on the SAT, have hundreds of hours of SAT teaching experience, and have graduated from Ivy League schools.

This results in the most realistic, highest quality SAT Reading questions. 

Even if you don't use PrepScholar, you should be confident that whatever resource you DO use undergoes the same scrutiny as we do. If you're not sure, or you see reviews saying otherwise, then avoid it.

I talk about my favorite SAT Reading books here.


Strategy 5: Don't Focus on Vocab Studying

Vocab gets way too much attention from students. It feels good to study vocab flashcards, because it seems like you're making progress. "I studied 1,000 vocab words - this must mean I improved my score!"

This is why other test prep programs love teaching you vocab - you feel like you're learning something and it's worth your money. But it's not clear that learning vocab isn't helping you until it's too late.

Fortunately, vocab doesn't play a big role in your SAT Reading score anymore.

This is especially true in the redesigned 2016 SAT. They've completely taken out Sentence Completion questions (if you've seen an Old SAT test, these are the questions that require you to fill in the blank with a vocab word).

The reasoning behind this decision was that College Board received a lot of criticism for forcing students to memorize advanced vocab that didn't really seem useful in college and career. (and students rejoice everywhere!)

There are still some SAT Reading questions that seem like they're asking vocab, like the following:

As used in line 68, "hold" most nearly means

A) maintain
B) grip
C) restrain
D) withstand


Wait..."hold?" They're asking a question about "hold?"

Yes - it's a common word, and the key to this question is understanding how it's used IN CONTEXT. "Hold" can mean all the things listed in the answer choices, but only one of them is correct.

 Here are examples of words that you need to understand in context in the current SAT:

  • ambivalent
  • clashes
  • convey
  • plastic
  • postulate

These are somewhat advanced words, but they're nowhere near the level of the words you used to have to know, like "apportionment," "expropriated," and "penchant."

If you have a pretty typical vocabulary of an American teen, there will be at most 2-3 SAT Reading questions that will really stretch your vocabulary. But like I mentioned above, you can miss 16 out of 52 questions and still get a 30 on your Reading test.



Don't study vocab - most likely, it's not the best use of your time.


That time is far better spent learning how to deal with Reading passages better. There are so many more questions about passages that it's a better use of your time to learn passage strategy and how to answer reading questions.


Strategy 6: Skip the Most Difficult, Time-Consuming Questions

Here's an easy strategy most students don't do enough.

Remember what I said above about raw score? To score a 600, you only need a raw score of 36 out of 52 questions.

What does this mean? You can completely guess on 20 questions, get 5 of them right by chance, and still score a 600.

Once again - you can completely GUESS on 40% of all questions and still hit your goal!


Skip questions carefree - like this woman.


Why is this such a powerful strategy? 

It gives you way more time on easy and medium difficulty questions - the questions you have a good chance of getting right.

If you're usually pressed for time on your SAT section, this will be a huge help.

Here's an example. On the Reading section, you get 65 minutes to answer 52 questions. This is usually pretty hard for most students to get through - it's just 75 seconds to answer each question.

The average student will try to push through all the questions. "I've got to get through them all, since I've got a shot at getting each question right," they think. Along the way, they'll probably rush and make careless mistakes on questions they SHOULD have gotten right. And then they spend 5 minutes on really hard questions, making no progress and wasting time.

Wrong approach.

Here's what I suggest instead. Try each question, but skip it after 30 seconds of not getting anywhere. Unlike math, the Reading passage questions aren't ordered in difficulty, so you can't tell right away which questions are harder or easier. You need to try each one, but then skip it if it's costing you time.

By doing this, you can raise your time per easy/medium question to 100 seconds per question or more. This is huge! It's a 30% boost to the time you get per question. This raises your chances of getting easy/medium questions right.

And the questions you skipped? They're so hard you're honestly better off not even trying them. These questions are meant for 700-800 scorers. If you get to a 600, then you have the right to try these questions. Not before you to get to 600.

How do you tell which questions are going to take you the most time? This varies from person to person, but here are a few common question types:

  • questions without a line number that make you hunt for a detail: You can spend a lot of time re-reading the passage looking for where Virginia Woolf mentioned a staircase.

  • questions that ask you to compare two passages: If you're not that strong at understanding passages, double passages are twice the trouble. 

Try to practice your Reading prep with this in mind. If you notice yourself getting stuck on a question, notice what TYPE of question it is, and see if there's a pattern where you always get stuck on that question type.


Strategy 7: Understand All Your Reading Mistakes

Every mistake you make on a test happens for a reason. If you don't understand exactly why you missed that question, you will make that mistake over and over again.

Too many students scoring at the 400-600 level refuse to study their mistakes.

It's harsh. I get it. It sucks to stare your mistakes in the face. It's draining to learn difficult concepts you don't already understand.

So the average student will skip reviewing their mistakes and instead focus on areas they're already comfortable with. It's like a warm blanket. Their thinking goes like this: "So I'm good at Big Picture questions? I should do more Big Picture problems! They make me feel good about myself."


You don't want to be like these students. So here's what you need to do:

  • on every practice test or question set that you take, mark every question that you're even 20% unsure about

  • when you grade your test or quiz, review every single question that you marked, and every incorrect question. This way even if you guessed a question correctly, you'll make sure to review it.

  • in a notebook, write down the gist of the question, why you missed it, and what you'll do to avoid that mistake in the future. Have separate sections by subject and sub-topic (eg Big Picture, Inference, Vocabulary)

It's not enough to just think about it and move on. It's not enough to just read the answer explanation. You have to think hard about why you specifically failed on this question.

For Reading Passage questions, you MUST find a way to eliminate every single incorrect answer. If you were stuck between two answer choices, you MUST review your work to figure out why you couldn't eliminate the wrong answer choice.

If you don't do this, I guarantee you will NOT make progress.

But if you do take this, structured approach to your mistakes, you'll now have a running log of every question you missed, and your reflection on why.



No excuses when it comes to your mistakes.


Strategy 8: Guess on Every Question You Don't Know

You might already know this one, but if you don't, you're about to earn some serious points.

Starting in 2016, the redesigned SAT no longer has a wrong answer penalty.

In the old SAT, each wrong answer would deduct 0.25 points from your raw score. This required you to have a smart guessing strategy.

No longer! Now there is no penalty for getting a wrong answer. That means there's no reason to leave any question blank.

Now, before you finish the section, make sure every blank question has an answer filled in. You do not want to look at your answer sheet and see any blank questions.

For every question you're unsure about, make sure you guess as best you can. If you can eliminate just one answer choice, that gives you a much better shot at getting it right.

If you have no idea, just guess! You have a 25% chance of getting it right.

Most people know this strategy already, so if you don't do this, you're at a SERIOUS disadvantage. 


In Overview

Those are the main strategies I have for you to improve your SAT Reading score. If you're scoring a 350, you can improve it to a 500. If you're scoring a 470, you can boost it to a 600. I guarantee it - if you put in the right amount of work, and study like I'm suggesting above.

The main point: you need to understand where you're falling short, and drill those weaknesses continuously. You also need to be thoughtful about your mistakes and leave no mistake ignored.

This is really important to your future. Make sure you give SAT prep the attention it deserves, before it's too late, and you get a rejection letter you didn't want.

If you want to go back and review any of the strategies, here's a quick listing:

Strategy 1: Save Time On Reading Passages. Switch Your Reading Strategy
Strategy 2: Learn to Eliminate 3 Wrong Answers
Strategy 3: Find Your Reading Skill Weaknesses and Drill Them
Strategy 4: Only Use High Quality SAT Reading Sources
Strategy 5: Don't Focus on Vocab Studying
Strategy 6: Skip the Most Difficult, Time-Consuming Questions
Strategy 7: Understand All Your Reading Mistakes
Strategy 8: Guess on Every Question You Don't Know


What's Next?

We have a lot more useful guides to raise your SAT score.

Read our corresponding guide to improving your SAT Math score.

Read our top 15 tips to improving your SAT essay score

What's a good SAT score for you? Read our detailed guide on figuring out your SAT target score.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We have the industry's leading SAT prep program. Built by Harvard grads and SAT full scorers, the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through advanced statistics, then customizes your prep program to you so you get the most effective prep possible.

Check out our 5-day free trial today:

Improve Your SAT Score by 160+ Points, Guaranteed


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Allen Cheng
About the Author

As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT.

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