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Tips on SAT Verbal

February 2016

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How is the Test organized?

The redesigned SAT has four tests, the essay is optional. The breakdown is as follows

Reading consists of 52 questions with a time of 65 minutes alloted for this section

Writing and Language consist of 44 questions, with a time of 35 minutes alloted for this section

The Essay is optional consists of 1 task, with a time of 50 minutes for this task

Math consists of 58 questions, and has a total of 80 minutes for this section

Reading Test Passages

The SAT will have passages from a wide range of subject areas, devote more practice time to the types of passages you're less comfortable reading

Two passages on the SAT Reading Test will include one or two informational graphics- tables, charts or graphs. These questions will assess your skills in locating and interpreting information within the text

Always ensure that you base your answer on an option closer to the reading

All the information you need to answer the questions can be found in the passage themselves or in supplementary materials. Be careful not to apply outside knowledge to the passage or questions, as this may interfere with your intepretation of the text

Keywords in the question will often clue you in on whether you're being asked about a detail that was mentioned in the passage or suggested by the passage

While interpreting words and phrases, do not rely solely on your vocabulary knowledge. Words often have multiple definitions, so be sure to consider the context in which the word of phrase is being used

Writing and Language

Each passage will be headed by a title in boldface type. The passage is spread across multiple pages. Most questions are anchored to a particular location in the passage via a boxed question number in the passage. If the boxed number stands alone, the associated question will tell you what to do, such as consider adding a sentence at that point. At other times, this boxed number will be followed by an underlined text; for these you will have to consider which of the four answer options is correct in terms of standard written english

All questions on the Writing and Language Test are multiple choice with four answer options

All questions are passage based, consider each question in the context of the passage before selecting your answer

Some questions include a "No change" option; choose this option if you think the original text is the apt choice


The redesigned SAT essay requires candidates to analyze an argument in order to explain how the author builds his or her argument to persuade an audience. You are not asked to take a stance on the topic. The support that you provide for your analysis will not come from your own prior knowledge, opinions or experiences, but rather found in the reading passage

The essay does not ask you to take a stand on the issue

The scores that you receive will reflect your criteria in reading, analysis and writing

Ensure that you understand what the essay is asking you to do

The main focus of your essay should focus on how the author develops an argument that is persuasive

An essay that provides strong analysis of well chosen points is likely to score better

Also read: Frequently Asked Questions - TOEFL


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