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How to Practice for the SAT/ACT Reading Section – Three Tips

Besides working with your tutor and reading SAT/ACT books, what is the best way for you to get a little extra practice in for the critical reading section? Even if you love reading on your own, preparing for the reading section of a test is just that – preparing for a test. Having a few different methods and plans of attack are essential so that you know what the test is looking for, and how you can conquer it. Here are three ways to practice on your own.

1. Read a sophisticated newspaper

General newspapers are written at an 8thgrade reading level. They are great for news and general audiences, but higher tier papers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal contain more specialized vocabulary and articles are written in a wider range of styles. While the vocabulary can be a built-in practice mechanism, figuring out the main components of articles and quickly summarizing important points will help you practice retention. In a test, this translates into time saved – you can answer questions more quickly instead of continually re-skimming the reading passages.

2. Practice making your own questions

After practicing a few reading sections, you know that there is a system for how the test makers create questions. Try making your own questions when you read new material. Putting yourself in the place of a test creator will make you look at a text differently, and will help you read more carefully. Try this on a practice test where you can read, make questions, and then compare your questions to the ones actually asked after the text.

3. Summarize in bullets after reading

Finally, you can practice critical reading section by reading different texts and making a quick bullet summary of important points and questions. Do this after reading and without looking at the text again. Pulling out the critical details of the text will help you with your short-term memory, and show you where you have gaps in reading. Knowing those gaps will help you become a more discerning reader, and a better prepared SAT/ACT test taker.


This post is titled, “How to practice for the SAT/ACT reading section – Three tips.” It was written by Marta Casey, a writer on Top Test Prep’s team.

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