Tracking your Mistakes on SAT Reading

Mistakes on SAT reading frustrate the best students. To reduce your errors you must analyze your errors. This is the key information you need to understand in order to improve your SAT score. You must know why you thought the wrong answer was the correct one. If you can do this piece of metacognition, you can start to break yourself of bad habits and build your skills to stop making mistakes. Then try to understand WHY the right answer is correct.

I misread the passage

If you don’t understand the passage correctly, you are going to struggle with the test because your reading skills need to be improved. Contrary to rumors, there is no trick that will get you a perfects core if your reading skills are weak. You need to do more reading practice. Additionally, check with people who are better readers to ensure you are accurately understanding content.

I misread the question/answer choice

This frequently happens because you are rushing. Take your time and carefully read every word in every question and do the same for ALL of the answer choices. Even if you are certain that B is correct, check them all. When I am going to teach a new test, I do it myself, and if I make any mistakes they fall into this category.

I don’t understand the vocabulary

This error is similar to misreading the passage. If you find that you struggle with more than 10 words in a passage, you need to spend some time improving your vocabulary. This can be done by reading more and looking up words as you encounter them, creating a personal dictionary of new words, or flash cards to test yourself.

I made an assumption

Assumptions can be deadly on the test. Try to be very literal in your reading of passages and answers and remember that the correct answer has to be universally correct, not just correct because of your own experience.

I told myself a story to make the answer correct

This is similar to making an assumption and is one of the most common mistakes on SAT reading. Sometimes, we want an answer to be correct, and so we create a story that establishes a situation under which the answer can be correct. If you have to create a scenario, the answer isn’t the one you are looking for.

I made a logic error

There are some extended logic questions that require you to understand an analogous relationship. These questions and math questions are opportunities for logical errors. If you find you struggle with these types of questions, you need to learn the steps to take to make logic based rational choices.

I have no idea what I was thinking

The answer seems obvious now—if you keep having these errors, start to pay a little more attention while doing the questions. Not where in the test these types of errors happen. If it is near the end of the section, you might have a focus problem from fatigue. Or you might be panicking (see below).

I didn’t go back to the passage to check my answer

If you are stuck between 2 choices, always go back to the passage. Context is king and don’t rely on your memory. This is particularly important if you want a perfect score.

I didn’t read enough of the passage

The test makers like to include direct evidence, but it might be farther away than you expect. In general, the answers follow the order of the passage. That is, the answer to question 24 will be closer to the beginning of the passage than the answer to question 28.

 I panicked

Self explanatory…learn to breath and think calmly…nobody was shot for a weak SAT score. I know this is harder than just telling yourself to calm down. Build your confidence in the test through your practice. Don’t just focus on your mistakes, but also pay attention to what you do understand.

How do I keep track of my Errors?

Tracking and analyzing your mistakes on SAT reading is the best way to systematically improve your SAT reading score. Different brains like different methods of organizing and tracking. Some students can use a spreadsheet (Googlesheets is free), but others like to write in a a book. I produced workbook you can use to track all of your errors (Reading, Writing and Math). It is available through Amazon as a physical book and Teacherspayteachers as a pdf that can be printed at home. Click the cover below to buy through

cover of SAT test prep workbook
Track your errors
tips for annotating the sat reading passages

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