When preparing for SAT Reading, it’s crucial to use high-quality practice materials that accurately reflect the content of the real test. In this article, I’ll go through the best resources for SAT Reading practice materials, both online and in printed prep books.
Why Are High-Quality Practice Materials So Important?
If you practice with low-quality materials, you’ll end up with low-quality results no matter how long you spend studying. Many test prep companies release their own versions of SAT questions that are supposedly comparable to questions on the real test. DON’T use these questions exclusively for practice!
The SAT creates questions in a very specific standardized format, and if you’re not used to it you could be in for a rude awakening on the test. Additionally, using mostly non-official practice materials will invariably give you a skewed sense of your expected SAT score. You don’t want to think you’re scoring at a certain level and then be faced with a nasty surprise when your scores on the real SAT are much lower.
For the Reading section, it’s doubly important to find practice materials that are high quality because there are always two components: the questions and the passages. Even if the questions are in the same format as questions on the real SAT, if the passages aren’t at the same difficulty level, you won’t be getting great practice (and vice versa).
On top of using high-quality materials, you should also use realistic time constraints when you take practice tests. If you don’t time yourself accurately, you will not be able to reliably predict your scores on the real test. Time is a huge factor on the SAT, and learning to manage it properly is key to earning a high score. For the SAT Reading section, you'll have 65 minutes to answer 52 questions.
In the next couple of sections, I'll list some of the best resources for SAT Reading practice materials.
Free Printable SAT Reading Practice Tests
This first set of printable practice test PDFs accurately reflect the material that is currently covered on the SAT (new 2016 version):
- Practice Test 1 and Practice Test 1 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 2 and Practice Test 2 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 3 and Practice Test 3 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 4 and Practice Test 4 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 5 and Practice Test 5 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 6 and Practice Test 6 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 7 and Practice Test 7 Answer Explanations
- Practice Test 8 and Practice Test 8 Answer Explanations
You also have access to four other printable tests that are from before 2016. You can still use those if you run out of materials, but keep in mind that the test has changed significantly. Stay familiar with the most up-to-date format and content even if you use some passage-based reading questions from these old tests for practice.
Note that sentence completion questions are no longer a part of the Reading section, so you should skip over them if you're using older practice materials.
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2013-14: Questions and Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2012-13: Questions and Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2007-08: Questions and Solutions
- Official SAT Printable Practice Test 2004-05: Questions and Solutions
Online SAT Reading Practice
This section goes over the best Reading practice you can find online. It includes both official and unofficial sources.
Official College Board questions are the best way to practice for the SAT, so their online resources in terms of practice questions are the best ones you can find. The site gives you immediate feedback on whether you answered a question correctly as well as answer explanations (though these explanations are not always as thorough as the should be in terms of explaining why wrong answers are wrong).
The automatic scoring is great, but it also isn’t a substitute for taking a real timed practice test with pencil and paper, so make sure you supplement with printable tests as well. The College Board offers a sample test here that you can print out if you want!
Khan Academy has partnered directly with the College Board, so they use official new SAT questions to help you practice. That means the materials are some of the best you can find outside of the College Board website itself. You can sign up for a free account here.
One negative for this website is that the total number of practice questions is limited, so you will probably have to supplement it with other resources. It's especially sparse on Reading questions for the time being. It also doesn't include test-taking strategies, and its lessons and answer explanations aren't quite as in-depth as they should be for students who don't understand the questions. However, it does include multiple videos which some people find much more helpful than written explanations. You can read more about the pros and cons of the Khan Academy program in this article.
Not to toot our own horn, but toot. We offer a 5 day free trial of our test prep program. The program will assess your strengths and weaknesses and give you practice questions to fit the specific areas where you need improvement. Basically, it does all the hard work of SAT studying (analyzing your problem areas and zeroing in on where you make the most mistakes) for you!
The downside of this is that the questions are technically unofficial, and you do have to pay to sign up for PrepScholar after the free trial. However, our test experts have worked very hard to make the questions as similar to material on the real SAT as possible, and you'll get your money back if you don't improve by 160 points or more.
There are a ton of free new SAT Reading practice tests on this website that you can download. It will give you answer keys along with pdfs of the tests so you can print out, take, and score everything yourself. This means you’re going to have to rely on your own hard work to understand your mistakes, which takes a little more time, but it’s rewarding in the end.
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SAT Reading Prep Books
You can find further practice tests and materials in SAT prep books, although they can also get expensive.
The Official SAT Study Guide or “Blue Book”
The old edition of this book includes ten official SAT practice tests. If you get that version, you can practice your skills with the passage-based reading questions, which are still relevant for the new SAT. The version of the official SAT study guide that has been released for the new SAT is not quite as helpful - it has eight practice tests, but they're already all available online for free.
This book doesn't include its own practice materials, but it's full of great strategic advice for the SAT. The Black Book references questions in the first four official SAT practice tests, so if you buy this book you should also download those four official SAT practice tests (for free!) go along with it.
The Black Book is particularly helpful on the Reading section, with a list of particular meanings of words like "anticipate" or "counter" that you'll need to know to answer Reading passage questions. It will also give you in-depth answer explanations for all the sections and insightful tips on how to get around the tricky wording of the questions.
The Complete Guide to SAT Reading by Erica Meltzer
This book is consistently one of our top picks for SAT Reading prep work. It breaks down the types of questions you’ll see, teaches you the skills you’ll need, and shows you how to consistently eliminate three out of four answers on every question. The sample passages in the book are also high quality, closely resembling what you’ll see on the real SAT, so they’re great for practice!
How to Get the Most From Your SAT Reading Practice Tests
Now you know where to get the best SAT Reading practice tests, but you also need to know how to use them properly. Below are three tips to help you get the most out of your practice tests and quizzes.
Use Strict Timing
It's important to follow official SAT time limits on practice tests. If you give yourself even just two extra minutes on the SAT Reading section, it could raise your section score significantly. Because you have more time to answer questions, your practice SAT Reading score becomes inflated and doesn't give you an accurate indicator of your actual ability.
The SAT Reading section lasts 65 minutes. That gives you about 75 seconds to answer each of the 52 Reading questions. Stick to this timing when you take practice tests!
Review Your Mistakes
Practice tests aren't just good for learning the format of the SAT Reading section—they're also great for helping you learn from your mistakes.
For every practice SAT Reading section you take, spend time reviewing both questions you got wrong and questions you got right. If you don't know why you missed a question, don't just skip it and move on; doing so will keep you from learning what kind of mistake you made, raising your risk of making it over and over again. This habit can hamper your score pretty drastically. It's better to take three Reading sections with detailed review than ten sections without review.
Don't Forget to Take a Complete SAT
Although this article is specifically for SAT Reading practice, you'll want to take at least two complete SATs (and ideally four) during your study program so you're prepared for every section and know how well you hold up after several hours of testing. Check out our guide for free and official SAT practice tests.
In preparing for SAT Reading, it's so important to use the best possible practice materials available to you. This means materials that most closely resemble what you’ll see on the real test.
The best way to do this is to use mainly official SAT questions that come directly from the College Board. You can access these through a number of free printable PDFs of past tests, SAT practice websites like Khan Academy, and official prep books. If you work on understanding your mistakes on questions that closely resemble the ones on the real test, you’ll be on your way to a great score!
Now that you have all these practice resources, read this article to get some of our best tips for boosting your scores on the reading section.
Are you more of a science and math person who's worried about the reading section? Take a look at my article on how to do well on SAT Reading for science and math-oriented students.
Also, read my article on the fundamental strategy of SAT Reading to learn about the number one rule to keep in mind when answering each reading question!
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.