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Center For Academic Excellence

CAE | SAT Prep: Verbal Portion

Reading Comprehension

This part of the test is difficult for three reasons:

  1. The reading selection is often obscure to  ensure that test takers do not answer from memory.
  2. There is no title· therefore, you have no idea what you are going to read about.
  3. The readings are carefully edited to fit questions, and therefore the text is dense.

Six types of questions:

  1. Main idea, purpose, title, source
  2. Logical structure
  3. Tone (attitude of the author toward the work
  4. Facts, details
  5. Implications  suggestions, inferences
  6. Further applications

Strategies for reading comprehension

  1. Find the topic first by reading the first paragraph and the first sentence of each paragraph. (maybe the first three sentences in the first paragraph)
  2. Read the stem of each question noting key words.
  3. As you read each paragraph ask, "What is the point? Why is the information given?"
  4. As you read the answers, eliminate some choices immediately and draw a line through them.


  1. Make a sentence with the pairs (lack of, type of, part of, place for, degree of, tool for, sign of, sequence, spurious form of)
  2. If all answers fit the analogy of your sentence, make your sentence more specific.
  3. If you cannot make a sentence with the question analogy, reverse the order and check the answer for a possible relationship.
  4. Remember that often the second word is often an extreme degree of the first.
  5. Recognize that most pairs are adjectives or nouns and the answer will have the same pairing.

Sentence Completions

  1. This test is a test of overall reading comprehenion.
  2. As you read, anticipate and supply your own word or words.
  3. Often a suggested answer is wrong because it creates a phrase that is not idiomatic.
  4. Another reason to reject a pssible answer is that it fails to support the logic of the sentence.

Produced by MUSC's Center for Academic Excellence under the supcrvision of Dr. Jennie Ariail.

Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Smith, Ph.D. - Associate Director

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