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Reading Test

In the Reading Test, students will encounter questions like those asked in a lively, thoughtful, evidence-based discussion.


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Quick Facts

  • All Reading Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • Some passages are paired with other passages or informational graphics, such as charts, graphs, and tables.
  • No mathematical computation is required.
  • Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.

The Reading-Writing Connection

All assessments in the SAT Suite of Assessments will include a Reading Test and a Writing and Language Test. A student’s scores on these two tests are combined to arrive at a section score for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

The test structure reflects the relationship between these two literacy skills and their shared focus on textual evidence, words in context, and application of skills across the curriculum.


All Reading Test passages are selected from previously published works and represent some of the best writing and thinking in the fields of classic and contemporary U.S. and world literature, history/social studies, and science. The passages on the Reading Test vary in complexity, ranging from texts like those found in challenging courses in grades nine and 10 to texts comparable to those assigned in typical college-level, credit-bearing courses. The test asks students to base their answers on what is stated or implied in the passages and any accompanying supplementary material, such as informational graphics.

Some history and social studies passages are selections from U.S. founding documents and the texts they have inspired. Engaging and often culturally and historically important, they wrestle with problems at the heart of civic and political life. Other passages discuss topics in economics, psychology, sociology, and other social sciences.

Science passages examine both foundational concepts and recent developments in biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth science.

Distinctive Features

The Reading Test will support the redesigned SAT Suite's emphasis on analysis in history/social studies passages; the interpretation of words in context and command of evidence will be highlighted in science passages.

Literacy across the curriculum is of primary importance; questions will test students on analysis in history/social studies and analysis in science. In many cases, students will need to make use of the ways of thinking important to a particular field to analyze passages and graphics. For example:

  • Science passages may be paired with questions focused on hypotheses, experimentation, and data.
  • Literature passages may be paired with questions focused on theme, mood, and characterization.

Students will no longer be tested on vocabulary they may not have heard before and are not likely to hear again. Instead, the SAT Suite will focus on words that derive their meaning from the contexts in which they are used.

Some questions will test how well students understand words in context. These are words and phrases used widely in college and career texts, the meaning of which depends on how they’re used in particular situations. Students will need to use the context clues they find in passages to determine the precise meaning of words and phrases that the author intended.

The Reading Test will assess three facets of command of evidence:

  • The use of evidence: Students will need to find the evidence in a passage that best supports the answer to a previous question or that serves as the basis for a reasonable conclusion.
  • The analysis of an argument: Students will need to identify the way authors use evidence to support their claims.
  • The analysis of quantitative information: Students will need to examine informational graphics and relate the information conveyed by them to the information and ideas conveyed through words.

Informational Graphics

The Reading Test includes two passages accompanied by one or two related graphics (for example, charts, graphs, or tables). Students will be asked to interpret a graphic’s meaning and make connections between graphic and passage. However, they’ll never need to use mathematical computation to answer the questions.

Sample Questions

Learn about the Reading Test firsthand by viewing sample questions from the redesigned SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10. Each test will include Reading questions from three skill categories that connect to two subscores.