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Literature SAT Subject Test

Content of Program

Tutors use the diagnostic test as an initial guideline for teaching students close reading techniques that emphasize both literal comprehension and literary interpretation. The test helps assess a student's facility with particular literary forms, from Shakespearean sonnets to modernist free verse, and gives us a sense of a student's familiarity with literary devices, such as the irony employed by authors as diverse as Pope and Thurber.

Through theory and practice, we help students become more attuned to the denotations and connotations of language as tested through a variety of recognizable and recurrent question types. Students study relevant literary terms and rhetorical devices, along with frequently tested vocabulary. Meetings, homework, and practice tests all provide opportunities for the exercise and refinement of the interpretive skills emphasized during tutoring sessions.

What Kind of Exam Is It?

  • The Literature Subject Test consists of reading passages followed by related questions.
  • Students are asked only to interpret the given passages. The test does not expect students to identify authors, literary styles, or historical contexts. The date of authorship usually appears after the passage, while the author's name rarely appears.
  • The Literature test is especially appropriate for students with strong reading skills.

When Is It Taken?

Students can take the Literature Subject Test on any of the six official SAT Subject Test dates: October, November, December, January, May, and June.

Content Substance of Questions Number of Passages Number of Questions Time
Reading passages followed by questions. Passages include a variety of poetry and prose, usually drawn from every century beginning with the seventeenth century.
  • Language
  • Rhetoric
  • Meaning
  • Tone
6-8 Approx. 60 Multiple Choice 1 Hour

Anything Else?

Please see our general information about the SAT Subject Tests for details about the length of the program and other topics.

For additional information about preparing and registering for the Literature Subject Test, follow the link below to the College Board'swebsite:

External Link: (link will open in a new window)

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