The first passage in the Reading section in the SAT is from US or World Literature. This is the longest passage you are going to encounter in the test. It is usually about 75-100 lines and not only needs your concentration while answering but special preparation as well.
You might often find a new piece of fiction in the section but don’t be surprised to find an old classic. It could be the easiest piece of the section or the hardest, and you can get an idea about it as soon as you start going through the passage. If you are lucky, the passages could well be interesting and engaging.
Different strategies from Non-fiction passages
You are going to find both, fiction and non-fiction passages in the section but the approach to them has to be slightly different. While the intent of the author is important, in fiction passages you have to pay attention to detail, setting, character description etc.
Not only are the fiction passages longer but they can also be tricky for many candidates. So a smart strategy you can employ is to not tackle them at first. You can finish with the non-fiction passages first and then come back to this passage at the end.
Tips to handle the Fiction passage effectively
Get information on the context
Thankfully you won’t have to go looking for it because the first couple of lines in italics tell you where the passage is from and what it is about. For starters, it helps you identify it as the fiction passage, so that you can adjust your note-taking strategy.
Keep describing characters
The intro passage can also offer you some information about the characters. But when you come across them in the passage, you are advised to note down a list of descriptions for them. Consider their personalities, adjectives used to describe them etc to arrive at author’s intent.
Separate author’s and character’s opinions
The narrator of the piece could be a character or the author – it’s important to make that difference. The thing to note is that you are expected to not only build character descriptions but express relationships between them as well.
Focus on the character traits
Once you have established the relationships between characters you have to put them down on paper. That will help you draw your own conclusions and look at the bigger picture. That in turn will help you deal with the tough questions better.
Fiction passages are radically different from non-fiction ones, so your prep for them has to be unique too.