Tips for Evidence-Based Reading in the SAT

The redesigned SAT, introduced in 2016, replaced the new SAT, and the College Board added reading materials similar to the ACT Science reasoning test.  The changes in the SAT Reading are intended to provide a better prediction of college-bound students’ readiness for college-level coursework.  I, as a former Engineering professor who have taught the SAT/ACT prep courses for more than 20 years, welcome these added features in the SAT.

Many students, especially those who do not like science or math, may feel that the Evidenced-Based Reading test became more complicated, as it includes graphics (tables and graphs) that are common in science and math books. If you learn at Ivy (or have learned during your science courses) how to plot your data or interpret data presented in the graphics and draw a cause-and-effect relationship, you can solve these evidence-based reading problems easily. I want to share with you some tips for tackling these kinds of questions.

Use your math concept to tackle some of reading comprehension questions related to graphics or scientific research articles

You need to interpret data (summarized in the table or visually plotted in the graph) and information in the passages logically. How?  Apply your math concept. You may consider a row in the table as the x-axis (cause/independent variable) and a column in the table as the y-axis (effect/result) or vice versa. Remember that doing experiments means you are going to find out the cause-and effect relationship. How?  You can manipulate causes – use different chemicals/reactants or change doses, then measure its effect – this is called an experimental design or testing your hypothesis.  A hypothesis is an educated guess and the goal of a scientific research.  Most hypotheses are written as “if…then” statements.  Once you understand the underlying reason of why and how a certain hypothesis is tested, then you have a better insight for interpreting given data and getting the right answers in the Evidence-Based Reading section of the SAT test.

If you need any help in improving your SAT/ACT scores, contact Ivy at

Written by B. Brian Yu, Ph.D.