Why Are the Critical Reading Passages So Boring?

We’re not afraid to say it: The SAT Critical Reading passages are really, really, boring.

Even for students that frequently read for pleasure, most SAT Critical Reading passages are troublesome. In addition to containing information on unusual subjects (beekeeping, anyone?), the material is dense, dry, and often emotionless.

So why don’t they pick something more fun? Y’know, something with a good story. If they picked a section from Twilight or a few gossipy paragraphs about a teenage soccer team or something, it would be so much better! Students would be excited to read the passages, they’d do great on the exam, and everyone would be happy!

Except… everyone being happy? Isn’t the point.

If the SAT writers picked captivating, easy-to-understand passages, everyone would get the questions right and we’d all have 800’s.

It’s important to remember that a huge aspect of doing well on the Critical Reading section is continuing to pay attention even if you’re not interested in the passages. The writers pick long, tedious passages for a reason – and it’s not because they hate teenagers. They make a conscious choice to go with hard passages because they’re testing you on how well you can read hard passages.

So when you roll your eyes and think, “This passage is soooooo boring”? You’re failing the test. When you drift off and start thinking about what you’re going to do after the exam? You’re doing nothing except proving the test writers right. Every second that you spend bemoaning how annoying the reading passages are is a second that you could be spending reading.

The only thing that’s important during the SAT is whether or not you get the questions right. It’s irrelevant whether or not you’re a little bored while you’re doing it. So why not try and make the passages interesting? Find something in each passage that speaks to you, and try to let your imagination be sparked. Things that might seem boring (again: beekeeping), might be fascinating once you get past your initial resistance.

Bottom-line: Don’t lose allow yourself to lose focus whining about how uninteresting the passages are. They’re boring on purpose, and with a little prep you’ll be a strong enough SAT master to be able to tackle even the driest of passages.

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