The PREFACE often contains information that can give you clues as to what the Main Idea will be. It can also have information that will help you come up with some correct answers.
What's the Main Idea? Sum up the entire passage in 1-2 sentences.
Why Was the Passage Written? What is the purpose of the passage? To inform? To Entertain? To Explain? To Prove Something?
What's the Tone? Not what was said, but how it was said. Concerned? Explanatory? Expose? Informative?, etc.
By asking yourself these questions, you'll be oriented in the right directions when you begin to look for information you need to come up with the correct answers to the questions.
Get to the questions as quickly as possible! Why? Because the questions will determine what parts of the passage are important. You may be struggling mightily to try to understand a particular concept when in fact there will be NO questions regarding that. You have just wasted some valuable time!
SAT Reading Passages: To underline or not to underline? Many students feel that they need to underline every little fact and statement in a passage and understand every concept mentioned. That is not a very good idea and the reason is that a person’s working memory can only retain three or four items at once. When you are underlining nearly everything and trying to understand everything, your working memory becomes overloaded and critical thinking is severely impacted. It pays to keep underlining to a minimum and we’ll look at reasons why tomorrow.
Many people believe that the SAT is an IQ test and that it cannot be studied for. Wrong on both counts! The SAT is a standardized test and can be studied and prepared for quite easily! Here is a 14-minute video by Mike Barrett, a noted SAT tutor, that puts the SAT in the right perspective. "GET YOUR HEAD, RIGHT".