SAT Reading Test Question Types, Sample, Score Chart, Syllabus

By Samarpita Goswami Updated On - Jul 06, 2022 05:44 PM

The Reading section of the SAT, which is a popular college admission test for Bachelors abroad, tests the command over vocabulary and the ability to correlate the themes and text structure. Read the article to know everything about SAT Reading.

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SAT, the acronym for Scholastic Assessment Test, is a widely-recognized test for admission to universities in the USA along with 85 other countries. The test judges the eligibility of the students for admission to undergraduate courses abroad based on a total of three sections: Reading; Writing and Language and Math.

These three sections of the SAT test the writing, critical reading, and mathematical intelligence of a student who is just out of school. The SAT reading section is one of the important parts of the test. The purpose of this section is to understand if the students can understand words in context and find and analyze the evidence provided. In this article, we will know in detail about the reading section of the SAT which comprises five reading passages followed by multiple-choice questions about each passage and SAT Reading tips.

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SAT Reading Section: An Overview

The broad view of the reading section is provided in the table given below: 

Particulars Details


65 minutes

Number of Questions 


Sub-sections of SAT Reading

Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Analysis 

Question Type

Multiple-choice questions

Format of SAT Reading Section

The format of the SAT reading test can be challenging for the students if not well understood in advance. The scores of the SAT reading test are combined with SAT writing and language scores and marked in the score range of 400-800. The Reading section of the SAT is again divided into 3 parts:

Subsections of SAT Reading Time

Reading Comprehension

25 minutes

Sentence Completion

25 minutes

Paragraph Length Critical Reading 

20 minutes

The reading section is the first section of the test and is the longest of all three sections. It contains 5 passages that will have multiple choice questions and answers to choose from. The passages may contain a  table, chart, or graph which corresponds to the given passage. These passages comprise a wide range of topics from science, and social studies like psychology, economics, sociology, and world or u.s literature.

SAT Reading Syllabus

The SAT reading syllabus consists of five passages. The word count of SAT reading passages is around 500-750 words making it the lengthiest section and the questions are arranged from general to specific which helps in students’ engagement with the entire passage in detail. 

SAT Reading Passages Types Topic Number of Questions

Passage 1

U.S  or World Literature

10 questions

Passage 2

U.S. Founding document or related text

10-11 questions

Passage 3

Social science

10-11 questions

Passage 4


10-11 questions

Passage 5


10-11 questions

SAT Reading Question Types

There are a few common types of questions that are generally asked in the SAT Reading section. These are:

  • Big picture questions which ask in detail about the author’s point of view.

  • Small picture questions are those which ask about a portion in detail.

  • There are logical or inference-based questions.

  • The function questions are asked to understand the function or purpose of a line or passage in the text.

  • Words in context or vocabulary-based questions.

  • Analogy-based questions are used to find relations between two lines or objects.

  • Techniques or tones of the author are asked as questions.

  • Evidence support questions are asked to support the statement of the question.

  • Data reasoning questions are fact-based questions that are asked to interpret the figures in the passage. 

SAT Reading Question Type

Average Number of Questions

Big picture


Little detail






Contextual vocabulary




Author Technique


Evidence Support


Data interpretation 


What Skills are Tested in SAT Reading Section?

The reading section of the SAT measures the following:

  • The capacity to closely read a text by citing textual evidence.

  • The ability to determine central ideas and themes of the passage.

  • The capacity to interpret words and phrases and understand the relations between them.

  • The skill to analyse the choice of words.

  • The power to assess the overall text structure and a part of the whole passage in SAT reading.

  •  It analyses the point of view for determining the purpose

  • It checks the potential to analyse multiple texts at a time and the bulk of quantitative information provided by them.

Benefits of SAT Reading Sample and Practice Papers

Practising SAT Reading sample passages and associated test questions is the best way to enhance the skills needed to score high in the section. Let us find out what makes it necessary to practice SAT reading samples and practice papers:

  • Reading as many passages as you can in the practice paper will polish and improve your reading skills. 

  • You will learn to answer easy and direct questions and then go through the passage again to address the difficult ones.

  • Practising SAT practice papers using a timer can improve your efficiency and further will teach you to divide your time wisely. 

  • It will increase the vocabulary bank and also help them to gather the meaning of the words by reading the sentences given.

  • Practising sample SAT reading papers also guides students to not write about their own opinion and instead provide opinions after citing evidence based on the passage.

SAT Reading Score Chart

The raw score achieved by test takers in the SAT Reading section is converted on a scale of 10-40 using a table. The table is used to standardise the SAT test and the raw score is used to calculate the number of correct answers given. 

Here is a table to convert raw scores into reading scaled scores:

Raw Score

Reading Test Score





























































How Can You Score High in SAT Reading Section?

As the reading section of the SAT examination is the longest of all, one has to be armed with a strategy in advance to avoid problems on the exam day. Check out the top SAT reading tips:

  • Spend less time reading the SAT passages. The duration to complete SAT reading is 65 minutes and each passage will take an average of 12-14 minutes for you to read and understand. So, you must train yourself to skim through the passage and finish reading it in 5-6 minutes.

  • Read the questions carefully first and search for the answer to those questions while reading the passage. This will save you a lot of time. SAT Reading practice is crucial.

  • You must be attentive while reading an SAT passage so that you don't miss important sections from it.

  • You can start with passages that are brief and easy. This will help you in time management and maximizing your SAT score.

  • Try finding the answers to questions that are easy. You can keep the one that needs time for later.

  • The best part of the SAT examination is that there is no negative marking. Try to attempt as many questions as possible. You can do intelligent guessing while answering the questions which you feel are difficult. 

  • Be careful with the questions which contain the word “infer”, “suggest” or “imply”. You may not find the answers directly from the question paper but they are based on facts and evidence.

  • You may find that the very first question given is based on general ideas or narratives of the passage. You should keep this type of question to the end to answer.

  • Don't be afraid if you have to skip a hard question. You may find its answer later or leave it.

  • Learn the art of elimination. You can eliminate the three wrong choices and find the correct one. 

If you want to achieve your desired SAT scores to get into the university of your choice but are still in doubt about how to fulfill it, you can speak to our experts. We also have a huge network of universities where thousands of students are placed every year.

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Does the SAT have a reading section?

Yes, the SAT exam has a reading section. It is the first section of the SAT exam. Here, no outside knowledge is necessary and students have to answer questions based on the passages. It makes up for 50% of the evidence-based reading and writing section of the SAT exam.

How many passages are there in the SAT reading section?

There are five passages in the SAT reading section which are based on literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences. Some reading passages also contain charts, tables and graphs and questions are based on the information given in the passage. The length of SAT passages ranges from 500 to 750 words.

How many questions are there in the SAT reading section?

A total of 52 multiple choice questions under five passages are asked in the SAT reading section. Each question has four options for test-takers to choose from. There are nine types of questions available in the SAT reading section with most of the questions coming from the big picture and evidence support.

What are the types of questions in SAT reading section?

There are 9 types of questions in SAT reading sections which include big picture questions, little picture/detail questions, inference questions, function questions, vocabulary in context questions, analogy questions, author technique questions, evidence support questions and data reasoning questions. Some questions are direct while some are critical where students have to support their answers with evidence from the passages.

How do I prepare for SAT reading section?

You can prepare for SAT reading section by being aware of the types of questions that will be asked in the exam. Secondly, it is not necessary to read the whole passage. You can read the questions and scan through the passages to get the answers. Lastly, you should avoid giving a personal opinion.

What is the SAT reading section time?

The time allocated for SAT reading section is 1 hour and 5 minutes. During this period, you need to answer 52 questions from five passages which leaves you with around a minute to address each question. It is necessary that students quickly glance over the passages without wasting their time and leave the questions which seem tough.

Where can I practice for SAT reading section?

You can practice for SAT reading section with the help of our test prep services. Here, you will get a quality study programme from highly trained and qualified professionals. In addition, you will get one-on-one personalised mentorship that will make your SAT reading section preparation easy.

How to finish the SAT reading section on time?

To finish the SAT reading section on time, it is necessary to monitor time while practising at home. You should know how much time is needed to answer each question and how much time remains at hand towards the end to go through them again. Again, while writing SAT reading section, you should not keep checking the time as it can make you anxious. 

What are the best books for SAT reading section?

The best books for SAT reading section are ‘The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading’ and  ‘SAT Reading: World Literature Practice Book’. These books have practical advice to approach the SAT reading section. In these SAT reading study materials, students can access online features such as videos and study guides.

How difficult is the SAT reading section?

The SAT reading section can be challenging for those who get daunted by long passages of reading comprehension consisting of 500 to 750 words. However, with proper strategies, it becomes easy to quickly go through the passages as all the answers to the questions are in front of test-takers and they only need to be careful to find them out.

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