SAT Critical Reading: How to Read a Passage
When reading an SAT Critical Reading passage, underline the one or two most important parts of each paragraph. Don’t worry about absorbing every detail of the passage. Just read each paragraph quickly and underline the most important parts.
Even if you are not sure what is truly important, always be sure to underline SOMETHING in each paragraph. Underlining keeps you focused on the passage as well as marks information that can help you answer the questions. Most importantly, the more you practice underlining, the better your reading comprehension will become and, believe it or not, the faster you will actually read.
Re-read the underlined parts of Long Passages. Before answering the questions, quickly scan your underlining to give yourself a mental map of the passage. This quick and easy strategy really helps put the various parts of the passage in context.
Tip: Always read the italicized introduction and any asterisked (*) notes. The introduction and notes are very helpful in giving context to the passage and filling in extra details that help you answer the questions more easily.
From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.