If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

The SAT Reading Test: Synthesis

Details about Synthesis in the Reading Test.

What is synthesis?

One of the question types you'll see on the SAT Reading Test is called synthesis: these questions ask you to draw conclusions and make connections between 2 related passages or between passages and informational graphics.
A note on the images in this article: all Reading Test items will be associated with a passage, but the passages are not included here. Each question pictured is just one example of how items in that category can look.
Sub-topics within synthesis:

Analyzing multiple texts.

Questions will ask you to synthesize information from paired texts.
Image of two Reading test questions asking you to analyze multiple texts. The questions say:
  1. Which choice best describes the relationship between the two passages? A) Passage 2 relates first-hand experiences that contrast with the clinical approach in Passage 1. B) Passage 2 critiques the conclusions drawn from the research discussed in Passage 1. C) Passage 2 takes a high-level view of a result that Passage 1 examines in depth. D) Passage 2 predicts the negative reactions that the findings discussed in Passage 1 might produce.
  2. On which of the following points would the authors of both passages most likely agree? A) Computer-savvy children tend to demonstrate better hand-eye coordination than do their parents. B) Those who criticize consumers of electronic media tend to overreact in their criticism. C) Improved visual-spatial skills do not generalize to improved skills in other areas. D) Internet users are unlikely to prefer to reading onscreen text to reading actual books.

Analyzing quantitative information.

Questions will ask you to analyze information from graphs, charts, tables, and other graphics in relation to the text.
Image of data from a table and an accompanying question asking you to analyze information from that table.
The table is titled "Base composition of DNA". On the far left-hand side of the table there is a list of organisms, and on the right there is the percentage of base in organisms DNA (percentages of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine).
Maize has 26.8% adenine, 22.8% guanine, 23.2% cytosine, and 27.2% thymine.
Octopus has 33.2% adenine, 17.6% guanine, 17.6% cytosine, and 312.6% thymine.
Chicken has 28% adenine, 22% guanine, 21.6% cytosine, and 28.4% thymine.
Rat has 28.6% adenine, 21.4% guanine, 20.5% cytosine, and 28.4% thymine.
Human has 29.3% adenine, 20.7% guanine, 20% cytosine, and 30% thymine.
Grasshopper has 29.3% adenine, 20.5% guanine, 20.7% cytosine, and 29.3% thymine.
Sea urchin has 32.8% adenine, 17.7% guanine, 17.3% cytosine, and 32.1% thymine.
Wheat has 27.3% adenine, 22.7% guanine, 22.8% cytosine, and 27.1% thymine.
Yeast has 31.3% adenine, 18.7% guanine, 17.1% cytosine, and 32.9% thymine.
E. coli has 24.7% adenine, 26% guanine, 25.7% cytosine, and 23.6% thymine.
The accompanying question says:
Based on the table and passage, which choice gives the correct percentages of the purines in yeast DNA? A) 17.1% and 18.7% B) 17.1% and 32.9% C) 18.7% and 31.3% D) 31.3% and 32.9%
Image of a question which asks:
Do the data in the table support the authors' proposed pairing of bases in DNA? A) Yes, because for each given organism, the percentage of adenine is closest to the percentage of thymine, and the percentage of guanine is closest to the percentage of cytosine. B) Yes, because for each given organism, the percentage of adenine is closest to the percentage of guanine, and the percentage of cytosine is closest to the percentage of thymine. C) No, because for each given organism, the percentage of adenine is closest to the percentage of thymine, and the percentage of guanine is closest to the percentage of cytosine. D) No, because for each given organism, the percentage of adenine is closest to the percentage of guanine, and the percentage of cytosine is closest to the percentage of thymine.
You will not need to know the names of these question types for the test, but this list gives you an idea of some of the types of items you will encounter.
Are you ready to practice your synthesis skills? Start here!

Attributions

This article was adapted from the following sources:
“SAT Practice Tests” from The College Board.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Gana Mohammed
    I want a strategy to follow in order to solve reading Passages.
    (4 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • aqualine seed style avatar for user Philiana Chua
    Any ideas for pacing yourself on this part? I find that I make more mistakes as I get more and more tired; not because I don't understand the question, but because I can't process it anymore by the last paragraph.
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Rosie Friedland
      Hi Philiana, I think the answer may just be practicing the Reading test a whole lot until you have the energy to make it through the whole section. To help with this, consider checking out other reading sources like Scientific American (free to read online), newspapers, and other journal articles and books. Hopefully more practice and familiarity with the types of passages that show up on the Reading test will help you stay focused.
      (16 votes)
  • aqualine sapling style avatar for user emilyzhu86
    So my brother keeps on emphasizing that I should memorize a lot of vocabulary for the SAT and his wife said I should too. I don't really get why we need to memorize vocab....? Is it helpful or like is it a major part of SAT?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Kwame Afriyie
    how do i read the passage effectively and understand and tackle all the very well. I kind of keep long in reading and mostly do not get the passages.
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • ohnoes default style avatar for user B
      If you have a hard time understanding then you should expand your vocabulary and such by reading the types of text that appears on the SAT. Read stuff that relates to science or history. News articles are also helpful.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Daniel Bui
    How do I identify key points? How do I know what to underline?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Kaylin Finch
    Is there a way to make connections between paragraphs? Does it also count for pictures?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot grace style avatar for user Aman Chaudhary
      Hello Finch.
      It really does.
      First, go through the both paragraphs and take out the point of view and connect them.
      Secondly, taking about the pictures. There are no pictures in the passage rather than graphs or pie-chart.
      Answer is yes, graphs does count for making connection between two paragraphs, in fact, graphs or pie-chart are the table form of representing the point of passage or paragraphs.
      Hope this will help you.
      (1 vote)
  • marcimus purple style avatar for user Beberli Guzman
    what the body funtion where is compond animal and human where what give human like food y otras cosas que reglas el cuerpo que componen de dna y chrmosoma parar fonctionar
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user ishaankalra2004
    Over the past few months I have been facing a lot of issues in the reading section.I have been trying hard but I still get a score in the 1200 range.The reading score significantly brings down my score.Please suggest as to how I should approach this problem.
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • leaf blue style avatar for user Geier Daniel
    Best word of advice for questions like these?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Lin Gh.
      Well, when I answer these kinds of questions, I try to find evidence from both passages to support my answer. And if the question is about a graph, I look at the graph at the exact words mentioned in the question.

      I don't know if this is the best way, but from my experience, I think it usually works, as long as I pay enough attention.
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user malicoatsa
    How long is the sat I would love to know?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user