The goal of the Literature Subject Test is to see your reading skills, especially when interpreting literary text from a variety of genres and formats (drama, prose, passages, poetry). Taking this test (and getting a good score) allows you to show your interests when you're applying to college.
The SAT is a standardized test where students have to answer questions in a multiple-choice format of a certain subject under a time limit and are a requirement to apply for college.
Many students think there is a magic formula that will help them get a high score on these tests, but the only formula that is going to get you a high score includes a lot of preparation and practice (nothing magic about that).
When you start studying for the SATs, you need to consider all the resources and tools (books, practice tests, tutoring) available to help you do your best on the exam.
Ahead, we've listed a couple of tips to help you prep for the SATs and specifically, to prep for the Literature SAT. You can also check the College Board site for more information.
If you feel like you could use some extra help, you can always consider private tutoring as an option, just make sure you find a tutor with experience teaching about the SAT.
You can also check our Literature SAT study guide.
Below you will find a list of tips that can come in handy while you're preparing for the Literature SAT (or the SATs in general). Keep in mind that learning about SAT tips is not the same as studying for any subject, this is just a guide to help you make decisions during the test and know what's best, but you should prep at least a year before the test.
College admissions care for students with a killer application, and this includes having top scores on the SAT. You should consider finding SAT books - perhaps in your school library - that will help you review the content of a subject, as well as other resources online.
Here are some SAT guidelines to help you while you take the test:
- Answer the easy questions first - this includes the ones you know the answer to right away.
- If there's a question making you doubt, eliminate the options you know are incorrect. This way you're left with fewer options and increase your probabilities of getting the right answer.
- Keep your answer sheet as neat as possible.
- Skip any question you don't know the answer to. This way you don't waste time and once you are done answering everything you do know, you can go back and spend whatever time you have left answering the ones you didn't know.
- Read each question carefully (don't rush through it).
- Keep track of time and check your progress.
- Have a steady work pace, try not to spend too much time on one question.
- The machine only reads No. 2 pencils, bring the right one and fill in the circles completely.
- If there is one question you're clueless about just skip it, don't answer it. You'll lose points for wrong answers but won't lose anything for unanswered questions.
If you feel a little overwhelmed, you can always consider private tutoring and get some extra practice and study time with a tutor who's an expert on the subject.
Topics on the test
The best thing you can do to prep for the exam is to learn (by heart) the topics you'll be tested on. This way you can start by organizing your studying strategies and prioritizing each subject.
There are three selections on the Literature Subject Test (SAT): a source of questions, chronology, and genre.
Source of questions
The source of the content of each question will be different throughout the exam. You'll encounter questions on the test about literature written by authors from the United States (40 -50%), British authors (40 - 50%), and other literary pieces written in English (0 - 10%).
The test also has text and passages from different time periods, but since this isn't a history exam, you won't be asked about dates, you'll just have to read content from said times. There'll be a passage or more from Renaissance and 17th century (30%), 18th and 19th centuries (30%), and finally 20th century (40%).
Finally, since this is a Literature test, you'll find a variety of genres included in the questions. First, there are prose passages, which include excerpts from fiction or essay (40% - 50%). Second, poetry, which will include entire or parts of poems (40 - 50%). Finally, drama and others, which will include passages (0 -10%).
You can also read about the practice tests and their benefits, which are available to you on the College Board site.
There is a certain set of skills that the Literature SAT will test on students. A literature class will make students read, a lot, so make sure you've read from different time periods, authors, and genres (as we showed you above).
Most of the text and questions on the Literature Subject Test will require knowledge of literary terminologies like irony, stanza, image, alliteration, tone, and speaker.
You'll have to learn and be familiar with the following literary concepts:
- Use of language, including imagery, word choice, and metaphor.
- Effect and theme.
- Narrative voice (tone and attitude).
- Structure, genre, and organization (writing strategies).
If you still have questions you might want to see our guide on the Benefits of taking the Literature SAT.
Preparing for the Literature Subject Test
After reading about the tips to prepare for the SAT, we think you should also learn about what the College Board suggests students know before the Literature SAT.
Preparing for the SATs is not something you do overnight. You need to come up with studying strategies, practice routines and overall you need to work hard.
We recommend spending your time reading and analyzing works of fiction or a drama passage, just make sure you encompass different genres and literary pieces. This will help you improve your reading comprehension and therefore do better on the test.
You should also consider finding some time to review the content of the exam with a teacher or other students, working in a group is always helpful!
Remember that the SATs only have multiple-choice questions, this is not an exam where you'll be writing an essay, or write short answers like on tests you take in school.
Feel free to check our article about the level of difficulty of the Literature SAT and make sure you prep accordingly, do the practice tests and study a lot.