For a lot of students, African students, at least, the SAT is quite an unusual pre-university or pre-college exam, especially the Verbal section of the exam. I remember a student once, after taking a pre-assessment test, recounted "The English was not normal at all. It looked like mathematics."

Funny, right?

But there could be an iota of truth considering that there are graphs and tables to work through for a certain question type. Honestly, I had a similar agitation at first, for someone who never enjoyed math back in secondary school.

But then, trust me, there is no need to fret. The English is proper, Standard English with a very precise based-on-the-text approach to dealing with it, and you wouldn’t exactly need a calculator or out-of-the-text reasoning to get by.

Now here is the precise preparatory method to apply…

First of all, you should know that you will be tested for TWO ENGLISH LANGUAGE SKILL LEVELS in the verbal section— your reading comprehension skills and your grammar skills.

Under each of these, there are essential topics. For example, on the reading comprehension, you are being tested for your ability to deduce the central focus of the test, the structure of ideas in a text, the ability to justify claims, and to make logical inferences; whereas, on the grammar aspect, your use of punctuations, tenses, modifiers, and pronouns are tested. SAT- MAIN – Chigozie Nwokoji

To gain some understanding of what I mean…

  • Take a pre-assessment test and find this out for yourself.

A great way to begin preparation for the SAT would be to take one or two assessment tests to, at least, gain some familiarity with the structure of the questions and the common question types, but if this is done too many times without also learning important English reading and writing nuggets, it could also be counter-productive.

  • Choose to begin reading up on or taking classes on the identified topics for either the Standard English Conventions or The Reading Comprehension first.

I would recommend starting with the reading comprehension first as they are not as easy to deal with as the grammar. And it pays a lot to start first with the difficult segment of the test. Learn the basic tips to identify required ideas within the stipulated time of at least 1 minute and 20 seconds on each question. After reading up and studying the techniques to get through each question type, attempt practice questions only under that topic. Remember not to be too hard on yourself during this process. Your reading and assimilation skills are bound to improve over time with continued practice and with proper training.

  • Learn the basics of all the reading comprehension topics, then take a test on all the reading topics at once within the stipulated time.

For example, you could choose to skip all the Standard English convention questions on a full practice test and note your performance now.

  • Review the questions you missed with the aid of your notes on the particular question types.

It doesn’t make for truly purposeful training to jump right into another practice test immediately after another. Fix your issues with the previous first and note the particular question types you tended to miss more often. Try answering the questions again with "fresh eyes." By the way, I say this so often that my students tend to complete the phrase for me a lot of times during classes.


Depending on your English learning foundation, you might want to begin with the major parts of speech...nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, adverbs...

 But find out the specific topics here SAT- MAIN – Chigozie Nwokoji

Study them, one after another, making sure to work through questions simultaneously as you learn each topic.

  • Take complete practice on all standard convention topics combined. 

Review the questions you missed and try answering them again with fresh eyes.

It is essential to take an actual digital test on Bluebook or other platforms as it acquaints you with the appropriate pattern of the test with all its digital modifications as you have it now.  However...

Doing a test on hardcopy isn't such a bad idea as it helps you track keywords and main ideas by circling or underlining with your hands. A lot of students begin at this rate down to using their fingers on the screen. This becomes normalized with frequent practice so that it becomes easy over time to track these key details with your eyes on the computer without needing your hands. In any case, the new digital format incorporates features that enable you to mark and underline.

Continue with the 8th approach until you take the actual test. Ensure to clarify your doubts about exceptions with the help of your professional tutor or credible online platforms like https://www.khanacademy.org/.

I mean, it’s English; hence, you should expect grammar exceptions now and again.

Other useful tips…

Read a lot of research works published in the New York Times and Gazette and watch documentaries— notice how the aim of the research is mentioned followed by the methodology to prove or disprove research claims and then the research outcome. This structure is consistent with how questions based on experiments are often set.

  • Remember to eat and take frequent breaks between studies.
  • Read this blog post often.
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