Apr 30

10 Strategies to Ace the Digital SAT® Reading and Writing Section

By Aude Langlois

As you prepare to apply to colleges and universities, taking the Digital SAT® will become a major step in your international educational journey. The Digital SAT® is a shorter test made up of two sections – Math and Reading & Writing. In this blog, we will dive into key strategies to prepare for the Reading and Writing section of the digital SAT®, to help you approach this important stepping stone with confidence.

What to Expect?

The Reading and Writing section of the Digital SAT® aims to test a specific set of skills using four question types: 

  • Information and Ideas: these questions will test your ability to identify the main idea and key details of a text, your capacity to interpret data, and your ability to make logical inferences from information given in a passage.
  • Context and Structure: these questions assess your ability to answer in-context questions, analyze the structure and purpose of a passage, and make reasonable connections between two texts.
  • Expression of Ideas: these questions test your revision skills by evaluating your capacity to synthesize information and to choose the most appropriate transition words and phrases in a passage.
  • Standard English Conventions: these questions will evaluate your grammatical and editing skills with a focus on sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. 

Tips and Strategies

Tip #1 – Use official practice tests

The most important tip is simply to practice, practice, practice! Be sure to complete the official practice tests available online to ensure your preparation for the Digital SAT® is comprehensive. Make time in your schedule for regular study sessions to identify your areas for improvement, strengthen your skills, and improve your confidence. Work on your argumentative and creative writing skills with writing prompts and perfect your reading comprehension skills by engaging in focused reading on a regular basis.

Tip #2 – Hone in on specific skills with additional resources

Use additional resources designed for your Digital SAT® preparation. Consider purchasing revision textbooks, or make use of the diverse online platforms that offer practice questions, timed tests, and tutorials that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. There is a large number of available resources depending on your particular needs, including flashcard apps and online courses. These options will allow you to fit SAT® review flexibly into your overall academic schedule.

Tip #3 – Learn to rule out 3 wrong answers

The process of eliminating wrong answers will make you more accurate and speed up your decision-making process. Especially when the correct answer choice is not immediately obvious, this strategy will help you take the steps you need to pick your answer more confidently. By ruling out the options that do not fit the question, you will increase your chances of landing on the correct answer.

Tip #4 – Predict the answer before reviewing choices

Instead of going straight into the answer options after reading the question, take a moment to reflect on what you think the answer should be, in your own words. After taking this step, you can look at the answers and find the option that most closely matches your answer. This is particularly useful for the Reading & Writing sections! By being one step ahead, you will find it much easier to rule out wrong choices and increase your speed and accuracy.

Tip #5 – Master grammar rules

Brush up on basic grammar rules, specifically focusing on correct punctuation and parts of speech, tenses, verb forms as well as sentence structure. This will help you build smooth sentence structures and allow you to ace the questions testing your understanding of standard English conventions.

Tip #6 – Work on your reading skills

Improving your reading skills takes practice – and it is all about making sure you are understanding and retaining information, rather than just speed reading. Work on taking short notes about the content of a text and summarizing key points from the different paragraphs. Ask yourself typical SAT® questions such as ‘what is the main idea of this passage?’ or ‘what is the author’s purpose in writing this?’. To fully comprehend a passage, you should also learn to identify the context in which the text is written and the main theme it is discussing.

Tip #7 – Use reading to improve your vocabulary 

One of the key challenges for non-native English speakers, or students who aren’t raised in an English-speaking environment, can be vocabulary. Even native English speakers may struggle a lot with vocabulary! While the SAT® primarily tests your analytical and reasoning abilities, you will also need a good knowledge of the English language. While memorization of long vocabulary lists can be time-consuming and daunting, a great way to improve your vocabulary is through reading. 

You can improve your vocabulary by reading books, articles, journals, blogs, etc. While works of fiction will help you enhance your vocabulary, reading nonfiction pieces is also important. This is because the Digital SAT® will have both literary and nonfiction passages from a variety of domains. When using reading to improve your vocabulary, make sure you are not skipping over words; keep a list in a notebook or flashcards of new words you are learning – the key is to actively read and understand the words in the text in front of you, not to get through it as fast as possible!

Tip #8 – Seek Out Help From Experts

Look into signing up for a test prep course specifically designed for international students. These courses will address challenges frequently faced by students from both native and non-English speaking backgrounds and provide specific strategies to master the skills they need. Have a look at the group classes and individual lessons available at Tokyo Academics to find specialized support in your Digital SAT® journey.

Tip #9 – Stay calm and be ready for possible score changes

Remember that you can take the SAT® multiple times. At Tokyo Academics, we recommend aiming to take it as early as possible, or as soon as students complete Algebra 2. That could be as early as the Spring of their sophomore year for highly prepared students. Planning to take the test several times will help relieve some of the pressure of that first exam, as you will know that you have a back up plan in case your results are not quite what you were hoping for. Most students get a higher score the second time, and most colleges will consider your highest score when making admission decisions. 

That being said, when completing practice tests, recognize that there may be small fluctuations in your performance as each test will come with its own set of challenges. Stay confident when studying and consider any variations part of the preparation process. By adopting this resilient mindset, you’ll approach the test with more self-assurance.

Tip #10 – Learn from your mistakes

While studying for the Digital SAT®, consider mistakes as stepping stones to improvement. Pay attention to the patterns in your errors and focus on strategies to work through them. Understand that instead of feeling discouraged, you can improve on these challenging areas, and feel empowered as you see yourself progress through continuous practice. Ultimately, by being persistent in your study schedule, you will be able to see what a great journey of learning you embarked on: the skills you are acquiring will not only be useful for the SAT®, but will also help you in other areas of your schooling and beyond!

Digital SAT®: Embrace the learning journey

All in all, preparing for the Digital SAT® requires dedication, practice, and a strategic approach. By making use of official practice tests and additional resources, honing specific skills, and mastering test-taking strategies, you can enhance your performance on test day. Embracing mistakes as opportunities for growth and seeking help from experts can further support your journey toward success. Remembering to stay calm and to view the process as a learning journey rather than a one-time event. This will ultimately lead to improved performance and broader skill development that will extend beyond the SAT®. 

Need Peace of Mind for the ACT®/SAT®?

Tokyo Academics’ tutoring services are your gateway to mastering the ACT®/SAT®, offering personalized guidance and proven test-taking strategies from tutors from prestigious institutions such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, and NYU. Our innovative approach is designed not only to elevate your test scores but also to optimize your study time, ensuring you make the most significant improvements in the shortest period possible. Partner with Tokyo Academics and embark on a transformative learning journey that accelerates your path to success, paving the way to the university of your dreams

SAT® is a trademark owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse Tokyo Academics.

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