Reading is important for students of all ages, but prospective college students may increase their SAT scores by incorporating extra reading into their schedule. An article in U.S News & World Reports suggests that well-read students have an advantage because all sections of the test check for vocabulary comprehension. In fact, the College Board recommends extensive reading outside of the classroom as a great way for students to prepare for the test.
The reading portion of the SAT will likely improve most through extensive reading. Students might be more apt to remember a vocabulary word in the context of a fascinating novel than simply studying a list of words and definitions. Nonfiction books, including textbooks, biographies or other informational pieces, likely have more difficult or technical reading that mirrors the SAT style. Reading introduces students to prefixes or word endings that can be used to decipher the meaning of a new word, the College Board reports. For instance, previous reading experience might help students determine the meaning of a word with the prefix "bi," such as in the word "bilateral," as a tutoring worksheet published on the website for the City University of New York states.
The SAT's writing test includes an essay portion of the SAT. Essays are scored on a six-point scale. Students earn full points if they effectively develop their argument and prove their critical thinking skills are sharp and developed. Their vocabulary and ability to reason should be skillfully integrated throughout the essay, according to the College Board. Extensive reading can help students improve this portion of the SAT because they will encounter different forms of writing, new or more difficult sentence structures and proper use of grammar.
In addition to the essay question, the SAT’s writing section also includes 49 multiple-choice questions. These questions test students’ ability to identify errors in sentences and improve sentences and paragraphs, according the Princeton Review. Reading extensively helps students quickly recognize proper sentence structure or pick out errors. Even if students are not able to identify what is wrong with a grammatically incorrect sentence, their extensive reading experience helps them realize that something isn't right.
Extensive reading also improves math scores of the SAT because vocabulary is incorporated into all sections of the test. Students lacking extensive reading experience might experience confusion with difficult phrases in a particular question, even if they generally excel in math. Conversely, students with strong vocabulary and reading skills might decipher the correct answer to a question based on the context of the sentence even if they do not fully comprehend a math concept.