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Critical Reading

Critical reading questions focus on a student's ability to analyze, evaluate, and think logically about what they read.

The Basics

Get the facts on PSAT/NMSQT Critical Reading:

Academic Skills Tested

Critical Reading questions are designed to test these specific skills — the same skills that are critical for success in college and career:

  • Determining the Meaning of Words: Use vocabulary skills, context, roots, prefixes, and suffixes to determine the meaning of words.
  • Author’s Craft: Understand how authors use tone, style, and writing devices such as metaphor and symbolism.
  • Reasoning and Inference: Understand assumptions, suggestions, and implications in reading passages and draw informed conclusions.
  • Organization and Ideas: Understand the organization of a reading passage, and identify the main and supporting ideas.
  • Understanding Literary Elements: Understand literary elements such as plot, setting, and characterization.

Related Topics

A Closer Look

Get deep info on reading skills, math concepts, and effective writing.

Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT (.pdf/2.47MB)

Test Day Reminders

Two No. 2 pencils? Check. Calculator? Check. What else should students bring to the test?

What to Bring on Test Day