hello my friends! i’ll be taking the SAT literature subject test very soon and while studying for it and doing prep i picked up some great tips/tricks and thought it would a nice review for me to make a giant post about it.


  • 1 hour
  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 6-8 passages
    • each passage is followed by 4-12 questions. all the questions will relate to the passages that you read
    • genres include: prose fiction, personal essays, autobiographies, excerpts from speeches, poetry, and drama
      • a general break down of genre is: 3-4 prose passages, 3-4 poems, and 0-1 other (usually drama)
      • a general break down of origin is: 3-4 british literature passages, 3-4 american literature passages, and 0-1 other literature passages, so keep in mind the histories/themes/ trends/etc. of these places


  • 800 possible points (scaled from the 60 questions)
    • 1 point for each correct answer
    • -¼ point for each wrong answer
    • omitted answers don’t add or take away from your score
    • each raw point (i.e. correct answer) translates to approximately 10 scaled points

testing strategies:

  • don’t take too long/don’t rush. if you rush, you might not recognize a better answer choice, or you may get tripped up on a trickier question. if you take too long going over a difficult question or a harder passage, you may run out of time.
  • you don’t have to go in order. unlike other SAT subject tests (math II, for example), the literature test doesn’t get harder as it goes on. so if you know you’re awesome at analyzing poetry, get all the poetry passages out of the way first. that being said…
  • MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUBBLING IN THE ANSWERS THAT CORRELATE CORRECTLY WITH THE QUESTION NUMBER. nothing sucks more than realizing that you skipped a question and now all the answers you’ve bubbled in are shifted. check after every question to make sure you are bubbling in the right spot.
  • answer questions you know first/skip over questions. easy questions and hard questions both get you the same number of points. so go through and answer all the ones you know for sure first, then go back and answer ones you are stuck on or need to think about. basically, manage your time well.
  • use process of elimination/guess wisely. cross off answers that you know are not correct and go from there. make sure to understand exactly what the question is asking and use that to help you go through answers. if you get down to two answers and are unsure, make the best educated guess you can. 
  • for questions that contain words like EXCEPT, NOT, LEAST LIKELY, etc., circle the word. i cannot begin to tell you the amount of questions i have missed from being duped by this type of wording.  
  • context is key. while you’re going through answer choices, remember that you can’t assume anything other than what is stated directly in the passage. you can make mild inferences off of the language/tone/etc. of a passage, but don’t make anything up in your head. remember to read a couple sentences/lines before and after the sentence/line the question is referring to; the context will help you more times than not in finding the right answer. 
  • simplify/restate questions. a lot of the times, the questions will be chock-full of extra words, or posed in a complicated sentence structure. if you’re having trouble understanding a question, try rephrasing it in your head. 
  • this is more for before the test, but take as many practice tests as you can. simulate a testing environment: time yourself, sit upright and use a pencil, take it in a quiet area, etc. half of the preparation you can do is honestly just getting used to the types of questions that are asked and the structure of the test. 

types of questions:

  • line-reference questions: give you a specific line reference for you to find and use to answer the question. these normally take less time than others because it tells you where to look for the answer.
    • ex: The literary device used in line 24 is best described as…
  • reference questions: like line-references in disguise. they have key words that only appear in the text once, so just scan through the passage until you see them and that’s where you’ll find your answer. 
    • ex: The main character considers Paris’ subway system to be infuriating because…
      • scan the text for “Paris” and “subway system”
  • vocabulary questions: ask about the meaning of a word within the context of the line/passage. this will almost always be a more obscure definition of the word. one good way to approach this question is by crossing out the word in the passage and replacing it with your own words.
    • ex: tend can mean “to gravitate towards/be more likely too,” or it can mean “take care of”
  • general/overarching questions: ask about the theme/structure/diction/syntax/tone/style about the piece as a whole. sometimes it can be a question about the attitude/intentions of a character or the author. make sure to find a specific place within the text that supports your answer, don’t just go off of gut feeling. this is where background research on the author or time period can be helpful (though not absolutely necessary)
    • ex: Mr. Blahdeeblah’s tone in the passage can best be described as…
  • trap questions: either NOT/LEAST/EXCEPT questions and roman numeral questions. 
    • NOT/LEAST/EXCEPT questions use one of those words in the question. circle the capitalized word. remember that you are looking for the wrong answer. an easy way to do this is write “true” or “false” next to each of the answers; the false one is the correct answer.
    • roman numeral questions contain three statements/words (labelled with roman numerals) that you must look at to answer the question.
      • ex: Fish have…
          • I. scales
          • II. fur
          • III. eyes
    • the answer choices will be combinations of these three numerals, and you must select the one containing the numerals that satisfy the question (in this case it would be I & III).

prep materials:

and there you have it! i hope some of you find this helpful, especially juniors/seniors about to take the subject tests. please feel free to message me if you have any questions/suggestions/concerns about this post or the SAT Lit test in general.

happy studying!

When did we develop such disregard for people’s lives?
When did we deem it acceptable to kill and terrorise?
When did we decide that victims need alibis?
When did we respond to injustice with but a sigh?
When did we choose to ignore our people’s cries?
When did we become such beasts?
When did we forget peace?
When did our very future become so bleak?
—  We are the monsters we are afraid of.
Short Hand

Sitting in class with my fingers held in the position of a gun
Teacher tells me not to shoot ‘cause she wants me to look at who’s won.
The pen stains the white with a clear gloss cover,
I’m board, you mark my pain, you stamp my suffer.
Let’s erase all the ways you lead me to believe
That only sad boys hide behind their sleeves.
Staring at questionnaires which suggest multiple choice,
I lean over trash to sharpen my voice.
Even then the shavings are left thin,
We as pupils will never watch you win.
You tell me how to survive but not how to live.
The triggers pulled, my finger’s hurting like my rib
cage Is locked, closed tight, it’s a trap,
You dislike my poetry so I give you a rap.
I’ve come for grades, you’ve come for a fight,
My hand is raised, only slightly, with these boundaries so tight.
This uniform isn’t the only thing to blame for stopping me from breathing.
My eyes are closing, I’m dreaming, falling so deep,
I remember the prompt guided by a shepherd as we are your sheep.
A starter, that continues through to the end of the class,
The clock is ticking like the egg timer drops in it’s hour glass.
Waking up is a crime, one full of dangerous fun,
Sitting in class with my fingers held in the position of a gun.

Poem 4 If only in a Perfect World

He wore his mother’s red cocktail dress.

She told him he was beautiful.

He wore his grandmother’s white pearl clip on earrings.

Grandmother smiled down from Heaven.

He stepped into his brand new red pumps.

His father wiped away a tear.

He stared at the tall elegant women smiling before him in the

Bright red dress.

His family took too many photos.

He gently secured his tux in his bag.

He hoped he wouldn’t need it.

His date escorted him to the limo.

She held up her dress in disgust.

She pressed the shimmery,


Fabric against her skin and let a tear drip onto it.

She debated.

Her mother called for more pictures.

She tossed the dress on.

Her mother, finally happy with her daughter’s appearance,

Posed her in front of the camera.




She prayed that her date had her tux waiting in the limo.

Her father didn’t look at her.

They walked into the living room.

Their Auntie hugged them so tightly.

They twirled around in their new dress and joked about tonight.

They haven’t felt this happy in a long time.

They heard a honk outside the house.

They hugged their Auntie goodbye and

Trotted towards the limo.

They hugged Their friends.

The school let him be beautiful.

The school complimented her tux.

The school welcomed Them into the dance with open arms.

If only in a perfect world.

  • Emily Dickinson - Elysium Is As Far As To
  • Lorraine Montgomery
  • poetictouch.com

Elysium Is As Far As To
by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Read by Lorraine Montgomery

Elysium is as far as to
The very nearest room,
If in that room a friend await
Felicity or doom.

What fortitude the soul contains,
That it can so endure
The accent of a coming foot,
The opening of a door!

Poem 4:

Welcome to society today
Teenagers are stressed and depressed because of what they look like, weigh, and what they scored on their ACT.
Theres more drugs than hugs, more rape than capes, and more anxiety than fun.
Welcome to society today
Teens learn to hate themselves because of a crush, a sport, or how much money they don’t have.
Young girls and boys hide under long sleeves and pants in the summer because of the scars they have made for an attempt to release themselves from the tight grasp called reality.
Women are afraid to leave their houses or wear what they want because a man could look at them hungrily with desperation in his eyes and “accidentally” give in.
Welcome to society today
Guys are expected to be athletic, selfish and pretty cool.
Well what if they don’t want to be those things?
Me, I want to be 6 things: pretty crazy, pretty intelligent, pretty funny, pretty independent, pretty caring and pretty strong
Welcome to society today
Lines are slowly becoming more blurred as sympathy on rape stories from the media is thrown towards the crumbling lives of the rapist instead of the destroyed ownership of the victim’s body.
Women are expected to carry pepper spray and a weapon everywhere they go “just in case”.
Young girls begin to learn in 1st grade to not let anyone touch you where your bathing suit covers, but they do not learn how powerless the words “stop” and “no” can become.
Welcome to society today
Boys and girls are forcing themselves to reject their lunch and starve themselves because it may somehow release their need for acceptance. Their need for perfection.
Their need to feel wanted.
Red streams of blood roll off wrists and thighs onto white sheets and tears match.
Both staining the sheets but one more permanently than the other.
Just as permanent as the scars left behind.
Welcome to society today
I’m tired of being ashamed of what I look like.
I’m tired of suppressing my emotions for so long that I don’t even know what they are anymore.
I’m tired of letting boys be boys. I’m tired of girls thinking love is shown by violence and they deserved it.
I’m tired of people saying rape victims were asking for it.
I’m tired of hiding behind walls I was taught to build up so tall that no one could break them down.
And I am tired with always telling people “I’m fine” when deep down I am shouting, screaming, pleading, for someone to notice just once that I am not fine.
I am tired.
Welcome to society today
I am done feeling helpless to a society that will never be satisfied.
You will always be too skinny, too fat, too ugly, too white, too black, too pretty, too female, and too male.
Welcome to society today.
Welcome to a society that needs to change.

Day 4 - Poem 4 Alex's poem

Life is a young man’s game,
The cruel hand of fate puts experience to shame.
When hopes springs from a fountain,
It’s youth that climbs the mountain.

There’s a broken toy sitting on a shelf,
With nobody left to blame but himself.
Cares once were free,
For this busy bee,
Yet faith drowns the pure in misery.

If experience lies with pretence,
Then no words fill the sentence,
A man is a man, not what he can stand,
There’s no judgement for those who let be.


met this boy (legally and biologically a man)

with a systematic configuration for dating people to avoid all (any) risk of falling in love

is it 

the fall 



when you bungee jump, are you weak or free?

be careful

your dad’s a lawyer not a cardiologist

She met a girl whose heartless father was a cardiologist

but that doesn’t matter because he could sew up hearts

perhaps the power of knowing you can stitch up pain stops you from prevention

morality blends difficultly with white rooms and sanitized scalpels

–purely cut throat–

do you see, boy?

in a court there’s much talk

defence of a blame

the mending is exhaustive and kills the throat with unnecessary acid

polluting the air with second hand smoke

there you are thinking if all the procedures are met the answer should be positive 

boy meets girl 

boy asks out girl 

boy pays for girl

boy texts girl

boy kisses girl

boy wins girl

so it must all be in boy’s hands 

but do you feel what is planned in apprehension

what if (the girl says no)

where (they sell coffee beans that make you belong)

what time (numbers instead of warmth)

do you see?

when you leave a room you head for the door and miss the art installation in the corner

She stands in front of it and you follow Her

suddenly black and white lines blur together

the painting varies perspective

“it’s interesting.” you say bored

and the black and white lines mesh into a greyscale

She looks at you through an old film lens

click click

–emotionally detached–

enabling Her to enjoy the aesthetic details of scenery

scenery in which actors play roles

within the studio system

magic was destined from exterior control

when you walk on the street do you look at the sky even if it’s not sunset?

do you see?

all the colours, whisked together and spread around fluffy clouds out and away 

overworked to black, though there’s always some cinders 

for those patient, sparks last

and then its blue and warm again 

at sunrise you drink a glass of water in a mug 

She drinks Hers with lemon in a glass

eats a slice of cold toast

and shuts the door behind her 

Poem 4

I love holding ur hand
When I reach down and my skin touches urs
When I slide my hand down ur palm
And ur fingers make room for mine
I love when our fingers interlock
Mine between urs and urs between mine
When your thumb caresses skin on back of hand
And I sneeze ur fingers ever so slightly
I love how safe I feel in that moment
When ur fingers snuggled up to mine
When holding ur hand feel as easy as breathing
Like nothing could tear us apart
I love how the world feels like utopia
Like when our skin connects all is right in the world
Like eve never ate the fruit and I’d never know pain
I live for the euphoria — of ur lips on mine
Of lips meet third eye
When all love in the galaxy surrounds us
Even celestial beings pause in awe 
Because when we hold hands
It’s as sweet as a child’s laughter 
As pure as a newborn baby
As crisp as mountain air 
And as beautiful as a sunset 
God cannot help but smile 
each time we hold each others hand…