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SAT Critical Reading Prep

Download FileEarning a high score on the SAT is the goal of all who take the test.  Using content from NOW programs along with our supplemental practice activities, students can broaden their knowledge base and practice the reading skills necessary to score well on the critical reading portion of the SAT exam.

See SAT Successful Scoring Tips

Learning Activity:

1.  When it comes to taking the SAT, many students are apprehensive about the critical reading section because of the broad range of topic possibilities and the wide variety of questions that can be asked.  Explain to students that they will be learning about specific strategies they can use to practice these skills while interacting with programming that will also broaden their general knowledge base. 

2.  Distribute the SAT Critical Reading Prep Guidelines handout to students. It will provide them with background information about the SAT Reading Comprehension section and strategies for answering the questions successfully.     

3.  Distribute the SAT Critical Reading Practice Activity handout.  Direct students to read the passage quietly to themselves and then answer the questions that follow it.  Remind students that while the questions are not in a multiple choice format like those on the actual SAT, they do ask students to analyze the content of the passage using the same skills.  Encourage students to use the strategies from the SAT Critical Reading Prep Guidelines as they answer the questions.  Provide students with 7-10 minutes to complete the activity.

4.  When students have completed the practice activity, facilitate a class discussion about how they answered each question.  Be sure to ask students to identify the specific skills they had to use when answering each question.  The skills are summarized below:
  • question 1:  why does the author say/do something specific in the text
  • question 2:  vocabulary in context
  • question 3:  inferences/drawing conclusions
  • question 4:  details—understanding of what is explicitly mentioned in the text
  • question 5:  inferences/drawing conclusions
  • question 6:  main idea/primary purpose
  • question 7:  author’s tone
Performance Task:

5.  Direct students back to the NOW website at and distribute the Create Your Own Critical Reading Quiz handout. Review the directions on the handout with students and provide the time necessary to complete the assignment in class or as a homework activity.

6.  When students have finished creating their critical reading quizzes, they should pair up and exchange projects with a classmate.  Provide students with 10 minutes of class time to complete the critical reading quiz created by their partner.  Allow students to keep a copy of the earlier practice activities and the critical reading prep guidelines on their desktop to remind them of the steps necessary to complete this type of activity successfully.

7.  When time expires, have students correct their critical reading quizzes and record an accuracy grade on them.

8.   Facilitate a short class discussion about the challenges students faced in creating the quizzes as well as the challenges of taking the tests successfully. 

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