Boost Your SAT Reading Score by 20%: Master Contextual Analysis with the Ultimate Guide by Professor Smith

Boost Your SAT Reading Score by 20%: Master Contextual Analysis with the Ultimate Guide by Professor Smith

May 7, 2024

When taking the SAT reading section, one challenge that can be daunting is the history passage. However, don't worry – this will be broken down for you step by step, from what the history Passage is to tackling the notorious Founding Document or GGC (Great Global Conversation) passage. Let's dive in!

What is the history passage?

The history passage is a portion of the SAT Reading section that tests your ability to understand and analyze historical texts. These texts can come from a wide range of sources, including primary documents, speeches, letters, and articles from various time periods.

What makes the founding document or GGC a stumbling block for students?

The Founding Document or GGC passage is a type of history passage that focuses on a significant historical text or a global conversation about a particular topic. It can be challenging for several reasons:

1. Complex language

Historical texts can be challenging to read because they frequently utilize language and vocabulary that may seem unfamiliar to contemporary readers, especially those who are not experts in the field. This can make comprehending the passage an onerous task, and may even discourage individuals from attempting to engage with the material. However, it is important to persevere in the face of such challenges, as the rewards of understanding the nuances and complexities of historical texts can be immensely satisfying. By using contextual clues, consulting reference materials, and engaging in careful analysis, readers can develop a deeper appreciation for the historical context and gain valuable insights into the past.

Example: Consider a passage from a historical speech in which the speaker uses archaic phrases that aren't commonly used today.

2. Contextual references

When reading historical texts, it is not uncommon to come across references to events, people, or concepts that are unfamiliar to you in the present day. Without a clear understanding of the context and background of these references, it can be difficult to comprehend the passage's full meaning. In such cases, it may be useful to conduct further research or seek out additional resources to gain a more complete understanding of the historical context in which the text was written. By doing so, we can better appreciate the significance and relevance of the ideas and themes presented in the text and gain a deeper insight into the historical period in which it was written.

Example: A passage discussing a political event from the 18th century might mention key figures and events that you haven't encountered in your regular studies.

3. Expanded arguments

In historical texts, it is not uncommon to find arguments or viewpoints that are presented in a layered or complex manner, which can make them difficult to fully understand without careful analysis. This can be attributed to the fact that historical texts are often written in a different time and place, and therefore may use language or ideas that are unfamiliar or require additional context to fully comprehend. As such, it is important to approach historical texts with a critical eye and take the time to unpack their layered arguments in order to fully appreciate their significance.

Example: An article from the 19th century discussing women's suffrage might present multiple perspectives on the issue, requiring you to dissect each viewpoint.

How to conquer the history passage

1. Pre-read and predict

Prior to fully immersing yourself into the passage, it is beneficial to quickly skim it to gain an understanding of the topic. This can be achieved by scanning the title, headings, and any introductory sentences. Based on these contextual clues, one can predict the potential main idea or ideas that will be presented throughout the passage. This pre-reading technique can be particularly useful for individuals who are trying to comprehend a lengthy or complex text, as it can assist in organizing one's thoughts and making connections between different sections of the passage.

Example: If the title mentions "Industrial Revolution," predict that the passage might discuss the effects of this historical period on society.

2. Break down the language

Breaking down the language is an important process when encountering unfamiliar words or phrases. It involves highlighting or underlining the unknown words or phrases and then attempting to decipher their meanings based on the context of the sentence or paragraph. This not only helps with understanding the text more fully, but it also improves overall language skills and vocabulary acquisition. By taking the time to break down the language, one can gain a deeper appreciation for the nuances and complexities of the written word, ultimately leading to a more comprehensive and enjoyable reading experience.

Example: If the passage uses the term "agrarian society," infer that it refers to a society based on agriculture.

3. Annotate

When reading a passage, it is often helpful to take notes in the margins to help you remember important information. One useful method is to summarize each paragraph in a few words. This can help you keep track of the flow of the passage and make it easier to understand. Additionally, annotating a text can help you identify key themes, symbols, or motifs that the author may be using. By taking the time to annotate a passage, you are engaging more deeply with the text and may be more likely to remember it later on. So the next time you have to read a challenging passage, try annotating it to help you better understand and remember the material.

Example: Summarize a paragraph discussing the impact of the Civil War on economic development as "Civil War - Economy."

4. Identify main points

It is important to focus on the main ideas of each paragraph to understand what the author is trying to convey. To do so, one can write a one-sentence summary for each paragraph. By doing this, readers can better comprehend the author's message and have a clearer understanding of the text. Moreover, summarizing the main ideas of each paragraph can help readers retain the information better and make it easier to recall when needed in the future.

Example: If a paragraph discusses the aftermath of World War II, note down "Post-WWII consequences."

5. Rephrase in your words

One effective way to retain information is to rephrase the main points in your own words after reading a section. This process helps to solidify your understanding of the material and aids in retention. Additionally, by rephrasing, you are able to personalize the information and make it more meaningful to yourself. This can improve your ability to recall the information later on. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you take the time to rephrase the main points of any material that you read in order to maximize retention and understanding.

Example: If the passage discusses the factors leading to the Renaissance, rephrase it as "Causes of the Renaissance."

A historical art piece depicting the Renaissance
Rephrase in your words

6. Connect with historical context

One way to gain a deeper understanding of a passage is to consider its historical context. By exploring the events, social norms, and cultural values of the time period in which the passage was written, we can gain valuable insights into the author's perspective. For instance, if the passage was written during a time of political upheaval, this could shed light on why the author takes a particular stance on a certain issue. Similarly, if the passage was written during a period of scientific discovery, this might help explain why the author uses certain metaphors or references certain scientific concepts. In short, taking the time to research and understand the historical context of a passage can greatly enhance our appreciation and interpretation of it.

Example: If the passage talks about economic hardships during the Great Depression, think about the societal impact of that era.


How to Prepare for the New SAT 2023?

Preparing for the new SAT 2023 requires a strategic approach to ensure success. Follow these steps:

  1. Understand the format: Familiarize yourself with the test structure, including the sections and time limits.
  2. Study materials: Use up-to-date study materials and resources tailored to the new SAT 2023. Look for official College Board materials and reputable prep books.
  3. Practice regularly: Regular practice is key. Focus on each section: Math, Reading, Writing & Language, and Essay (if applicable). Utilize sample questions and full-length practice tests.
  4. Identify weaknesses: Take practice tests to identify areas where you struggle. Concentrate on improving those skills through targeted practice.
  5. Time management: SAT is a timed test. Learn time management techniques to ensure you can complete each section within the allocated time.
  6. Review mistakes: After practice tests, review incorrect answers thoroughly. Understand why you made those mistakes and learn from them.
  7. Simulate test conditions: Practice under real exam conditions to get accustomed to the pressure and time constraints.
  8. Seek help: If you're having trouble with specific topics, consider seeking help from teachers, tutors, or online resources.

Is there an essay section on the SAT 2023?

As of the 2021-2022 testing year, the essay section (SAT Essay) is optional and not a part of the main SAT exam. However, some colleges may still require it for admission, so research the requirements of the colleges you're interested in applying to.

What Is the Breakdown of the SAT 2023?The SAT 2023 consists of the following sections:

  1. Math: This section tests your math skills in areas like algebra, geometry, and data analysis. It includes both calculator and no-calculator portions.
  2. Reading: The reading section assesses your ability to comprehend and analyze passages from various sources, including literature, history, science, and social studies.
  3. Writing and language: This section evaluates your language and grammar skills. You'll need to edit and revise passages to improve their clarity and effectiveness.
  4. Optional essay: While the essay is optional, it's an opportunity to showcase your writing skills. It involves analyzing a provided passage and crafting a well-structured response.

Each section is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. The total SAT score is the sum of the section scores, resulting in a possible total score range of 400 to 1600.


By understanding the nuances of the history passage and practicing your analytical skills, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any Founding Document or GGC passage that comes your way. Remember, practice is key. And speaking of practice, why not supercharge your preparation by signing up for Aha? Aha is a learning website that offers a wealth of quality sample questions. Plus, it uses AI to analyze your weak points and provide personalized guidance. Get ready to ace that SAT Reading section – you've got this! Sign up for Aha now and take your SAT Reading skills to the next level! Your success awaits.

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