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Flashcards in Passage Reading Facts Deck (26)

Where are the passage reading sections on the SAT Critical Reading test?

Passage reading follows sentence completion usually starting after question 6 or 7 on the section.

There may be three or four of these sections on the test that you take.


What are the three types of passages on SAT Critical Reading?

  • short passage
  • long passage
  • comparative passages


Where do the SAT test makers get their passages to put on the test?

The test makers get the passages from textbooks, magazines, fiction and non-fiction books, and speeches.


What makes SAT passage reading so challenging to the average student?

The passages move average students away from their comfort zones in reading.  Many passages have long complicated sentences, arguments within them can be subtle, and the topics can be boring to the average student.


How do you prepare for the content of SAT passage reading?

Practice reading from a variety of different sources.  Make a list of titles and read to conquer style and identify arguments and positions.


How can you prepare for SAT passage reading without a lot of extra work?

Change the way you do your reading assignments in your high school coursework (particularly history, science and literature texts).


What are the most common areas of context for SAT passage reading?

SAT passages can be about:

  • science
  • art criticism
  • sociology
  • psychology
  • history
  • literature


What are the five basic kinds of questions you see in passage reading sections?

Questions about:

  • Main Idea
  • Details
  • Vocabulary (in context)
  • Inference
  • Tone


Which of these questions are often ranked as the most difficult by the test makers?

Inference and tone questions most often are ranked as very difficult.


What is the best way to handle main idea questions?

Active reading with mapping and side notes works well to assess the overall main idea of a passage.


How are main idea questions phrased?

Main idea questions either ask directly about the "main idea" or about "purpose" of the passage as a whole?

The "purpose" phrasing can be used to ask about specific content of a paragraph, like how a quote is being used in an author's argument.  The key is to read the question carefully to know what kind of answer is required.


What makes detail questions the least challenging in SAT passage reading?

They are the most direct, though they often require time to search back through the passage to verify.


How are certain detail questions made more challenging?

For details, they sometimes phrase the question "which of the following does NOT answer this point?" This makes the search and verification more time consuming.


What makes vocabulary questions on passage reading different than sentence completion?

Vocabulary in passage reading have context clues that are not confined to the sentence in which the word appears.


How does the SAT trap you into selecting the wrong answer on the more challenging passage vocabulary questions?

The SAT's vocabulary trap in passage reading comes from words with multiple meanings.

For these words, students eliminate based upon the well-known primary meaning, while the secondary meaning works beautifully in the sentence.  BE CAREFUL in predicting a meaning from the overall context and eliminate deliberately.  Eliminating the correct answer almost always results in a penalty.


What are inference questions?

Inference questions relate to logical deductions a reader should make from specific phrases within the passage.


What is the most common mistake in trying to answer an inference question in passage reading?

The most common mistake is matching exact wording.

Finding matching words works well for detail questions, but an inference is an interpretation of direct wording and will never match exact phrasing.


What is tone within a writing passage?

Tone is the writer's attitude toward his or her topic.


What indicates tone in a writing passage?

Tone is indicated by unusual choice of words or phrases.


Are these five question types the only ones on passage reading?

No, there are questions that related to generality, purpose, use of quotes, etc.  A smaller number of these are mixed into the test.


What is the first step in working to improve your passage reading score?

Assess your areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Most students are stronger in particular areas of reading content.  You might read literature very well, but you're not so good at science, or vice-versa.


What do you do if you assess yourself and find that you are not very strong at reading?

Read more.  All skills improve with practice.  Set a timer and do reading drills in a quiet place with as few distractions as possible. 

Start with 25-miuntes as a goal and gradually increase until you can read for 90 minutes without a break.


If you're weak at reading literature, what are some good books to read while preparing for passage reading?

19th century writers are a good place to start.

Books from this era tended to have longer sentences, more inferences, and styles that develope better reading.  You don't need to complete a reading of any particular novel.  However, you do need to master the style and be able to read with focus for 90 minutes at a time.

Good writers to practice on:

  • Charles Dickens (uses tone)
  • Jane Austen
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Henry James
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne


What are some good materials to improve your science reading?

Start with your textbooks.  Many classes don't emphasize reading the science book much, so you might not be so skilled at it.

Supplemental magazine titles:

  • American Scientist
  • National Geographic
  • Popular Science
  • Psychology Today
  • Science Illustated
  • Scientific American


What should you practice reading if you have a weakness for reading criticism?

Reading newspaper editorials and periodicals should give you more experience at reading and mapping criticism.

A good list for this:

  • New York Times (Op/Eds)
  • New Yorker Magazine
  • Wall Street Jounal (Op/Eds)
  • Washington Post (Op/Eds)
  • Atlantic Monthly


What should you focus upon as you practice supplemental reading?

Building general attention span and comprehension in these areas.

  • Identifying point of view
  • Recognizing primary purpose
  • Finding opinions (main, secondary, tertiary, and relationships beween opinions)
  • Locating details supporting the opinions