Skip to Main Content


A pretty mind blowing part of the new SAT is that they have a graph on the reading comprehension part, which just sounds ridiculous. Or maybe not when you look at the fact that many of these new reading passages are very science-y, and they lend themselves pretty well to graphs. Now, on the reading section, you're gonna have five passages, with ten to 11 questions.

And there's always gonna be one hard core science passage, meaning it's pretty dry and dull, pretty technical. There's gonna be one kind of light pop kind of science, like with a science article you'd read in the New York Times. And then there's also gonna be this kinda social science-y passage. On any one of those you can have a graph show up, so it could be like traffic patterns, or the number of minutes a pedestrian walks each day in a city, that would be the social science-y one, then there's, you know, as I said a light science-y one and then a hardcore science-y one.

There can be anywhere from two to four graph related questions, meaning that as many as two of those passages can have a graph. There will always be exactly one graph to each of these passages, but you should expect it, don't expect it in the fiction, and don't expect it in every passage, on most of them you will not have any graphs, so don't worry, but when you do see it, well now you know more or less what to do.

I think doing the graph part is pretty straightforward, we always have seen graphs and we're you're usually asked to interpret them, and that's not different at all in this new SAT. Another piece of good news is that they're not really trying to trick you, they're giving you pretty complex graphs as the one I've drawn here, and it's, actually I didn't draw that.

But as the graph I have here, but you know, it's pretty complex but not ridiculous. The good news is the questions will be pretty straightforward if you analyze the graph and understand what's going on. The questions aren't meant to be mind-blowing. So let's take a look here.

What do I have? According to the graph, which of the following is true about non-REM sleep? So in order to understand that, I want to first say, huh, that's not REM sleep. This is REM sleep up here. Now REM sleep has three stages, N3, N2, and oh, I guess N3 comes again. Kind of interesting you'd expect N1 but it's not there.

And it's on this x-axis we have time, spread a little over four hours. And that's about it. You're reading the y-axis, reading down, and then you're reading the x-axis here from left to right. You could read this one up or down, it doesn't really matter. And then of course, you're interpreting the information.

It's good to do a quick, that's when you're awake. You're awake for a little bit, then you fall asleep really quickly, don't really do much REM there. And then you're in this non-REM sleep for a really long time before you get a little bit of REM sleep, then you get, so a lot of REM sleep here, and then oh look, you awake.

Now I don't want to get much more in depth than that, you don't want to just sit there telling stories about the graph all day long, you just want to get that big picture, which I've more than done here, and I guess big picture means y-axis then x-axis. Then, you want to dive straight in to the question. Which is the following is true about non-REM sleep?

Starting with A, it always occurs before REM sleep. Is that true? Well, it's occurring after REM sleep right here, so you know, a little bit of REM sleep. That is definitely not true, so get rid of answer choice A. Answer choice B, it has four distinct phases in a four hour period, interesting.

We really don't have that much information here with four hours, we don't quite get there. And we have a distinct phase here to non-REM sleep, oh here's one, two, three. Maybe that's what they mean. Or could they mean one, two, three, but nowhere do I see four. So even though it's a little bit vague, it's definitely not four.

It accounts for a greater proportion of sleep then REM sleep. Is that true? Well, I circled the REM sleep already. It's not too much of it, but that's a decent amount. But then look at the non-REM sleep. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

Much, much greater. And so therefore you can say, well that's pretty easy. I get that now. I mean, obviously it's much longer. But that's really all they want you to do. Kind of understand the graph, and then when you get the answer and you understand the graph it shouldn't be that mind blowing so we can see the answer is C.

It has fewer distinct phases than REM sleep is obviously not the case when we go back there you can see look it has three, these, at least two distinct phases. I guess N3's the same one. But, definitely not fewer than REM. So we get rid of that, so that's kind of how the graph works, again you'll get two questions with this.

There's another one right here, so according to the graph, which of the following occurs exactly once between the first onset of REM sleep and the last onset of REM sleep? Again go back, analyze it, go one answer, whoops I don't want to circle that. I don't know if that's right but one answer at a time. So, the question's asking again, which occurs exactly once between the first onset of REM sleep and the last onset of REM sleep?

So we want exactly once. So we go back here, first onset of REM sleep, is this really an onset? Little bit vague, we don't know. But we can definitely say that's an onset of REM sleep and that's the last one. What happens exactly once between those. So, we go back to the answer choices and we start with a phase of non-REM sleep.

Well, we have quite a few phases here of non-REM sleep, so that doesn't happen exactly once, there's many many of them. So we go back down, here we get rid of A. B, a period in which the subject is awake. Boom, right there, there's only one point when they are awake, again not that hard once you dissect the question, once you understand the graph.

The point that's also important is that you can look at the graph, and you can do the graph questions, as we've done here, without any single reading passage. So you may have said wait a second, yeah this whole time all I've been doing is looking at a graph and answering these questions. And that's the thing. You can even argue that if you're totally running out of time and you have like two minutes left for a reading passage, just skip the reading passage and go straight to the graph, and at least get two questions right.

Anyway, those are the strategies, and definitely recommend practicing them.

Read full transcript