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For more information, please see full course syllabus of SAT Critical Reading
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Lecture Comments (9)

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Post by Kishor Pant on December 22, 2014

Thank you so much! Your series has been quite helpful. These tips are so refreshing! :)

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Sun Aug 4, 2013 6:52 PM

Post by Lavanya Kanneganti on August 4, 2013

By the time I'm in junior year will my teachers have taught me most of the concepts i need to score better on the SAT??
On the ACT do you have any recommendations for resources that will help you improve in the science section of it?

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Sun Aug 4, 2013 4:16 PM

Post by Lavanya Kanneganti on August 4, 2013

Yes, I understand and totally agree. Thank you! I don't know what high school you went to but most of the people that i know are asian so the dying your hair blonde, being anorexic, and joining the basketball team are some what far-fetched. :)

I'm going to be a freshmen this year so i was wondering what would be a good SAT score as a freshmen to have, to know if you're headed in the right direction.

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Sun Aug 4, 2013 12:34 AM

Post by Lavanya Kanneganti on August 3, 2013

Here in Kentucky most of the high schoolers that i know say to skim,because we won't have enough time to finish reading the passage and to be able to thoroughly understand it. So I've been practicing speed reading and skimming,(because i never really understood what to do when you "skim"). Do you have any recommendations for ways to improve your speed reading other than reading (i got that one covered)?

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Hendershot
Sat Aug 3, 2013 1:23 AM

Post by Lavanya Kanneganti on August 2, 2013

Do you recommend that we skim the passage because of time or that we read the passage? And would it be a good idea to learn speed reading and comprehending too?

Passage-Based Question Types

  • What Are Passage-Based Questions:
    • Passage-based questions are questions related to long, short, or paired passages.
    • They may ask you for information directly related in the passage, or ask you to draw conclusions or make predictions after “reading between the lines.”
    • These questions usually appear toward the end of the critical reading section.
  • Passage Types
    • Nonfiction
      • Humanities
      • Social studies
      • Natural sciences
    • Literary fiction
    • Paired passages
    • Narrative, persuasive, expository, and literary elements
  • Question Types
    • Literal comprehension questions ask you to identify information that is directly presented in the passage.
    • Vocabulary-in-context questions ask you to identify the meaning of words as they’re used in the passage
    • Extended reasoning questions ask you to draw conclusions from or evaluate the information in the passage.
  • Literal Comprehension Questions
    • To answer these questions, rely on your memory or look back at the passage.
    • Remember that the wording in the question need not match the wording of the passage.
    • Watch out for “reversal words” such as except, not, and only.
  • Vocabulary-in-Context Questions
    • Most words in these questions have multiple meanings.
    • To answer these questions, go back and reread the sentences to which they refer. Study the context.
    • If necessary, think of another word that would make just as much sense in the same sentence.
  • Extended Reasoning Questions
    • May ask you to determine the main idea or the author’s primary purpose in writing.
    • May ask you to explain what a particular word, image, phrase, example, or quotation means in context.
    • Draw conclusions based on the information provided.
    • Predict how the author of one passage might react to or evaluate an idea expressed in a related passage.
    • Identify the author’s tone or attitude.
    • Understand a specific idea or relationship in a passage and identify a parallel or analogous one.
  • Passage-Based Question Strategies
    • Take notes
      • As you read, make little notes in the margin to indicate what happens in particular sections, or what material is included there. Summarize key events and passages.
      • This doesn’t help every student, but it might give you a handy reference when you have to look back at the passage later.
      • Don’t spend too much time on note-taking–remember it’s supposed to help you work faster.
    • Read what’s there … and what isn’t
      • Pay attention to what the author is saying, even if you don’t agree.
      • Read between the lines to identify the author’s tone and attitude, as well as whether he or she is being ironic or satirical.
      • Remember that each passage has a purpose, but it may not be obvious.
    • Ask questions: As you read, ask yourself:
      • What facts are being presented?
      • What opinions are being conveyed?
      • What is the author’s purpose?
      • What sort of writing probably came before this selection?
      • What sort of writing might come after it?
    • Read the questions first (?)
      • If you’re really struggling to understand the passage, read the questions before going back to it. You may have an easier time if you know what you’ll be asked to do.
      • BUT this doesn’t work all the time. Knowing what the questions are asking might be a waste of time if you can’t figure out what the passage is about. Try both methods as you answer practice questions, and see which one works better for you.
  • Key Words and Phrases
    When you see … Remember …
    According to the author/passage To answer with what the author says/thinks, not what you think.
    best To choose the very best answer, and avoid letting merely good ones distract you.
    chiefly To look for central or important elements–the “big stuff”
    except To look for the answer choice that doesn’t belong.
    The author implies… It can be inferred … The author suggests … To read between the lines, and never substitute your ideas for the author’s.
    least To choose the least likely, reasonable, etc. choice–the one that makes the least sense.
    mainly It’s the same as chiefly–look for the big ideas.
    most To choose the most likely, reasonable, etc. choice–like mainly and chiefly, opposite to least.
    only To watch for single examples of something (“I am an only child”), or restrictions (“I only go running on Sundays.”)
    primarily Same as chiefly
  • Passage-Based Strategies
    • All the answers will be in, or implied by, the passage. Read carefully!
    • Watch out for descriptive words and phrases, like “attractive,” “burned,” or “with a smirk”. Details matter, both for literal comprehension and extended reasoning!
    • Read questions and answers carefully.
    • Don’t let a good answer be the enemy of the best answer. It’s possible for an answer to be both true and wrong.
    • Make sure the passage supports whichever answer you choose.
    • Use process of elimination. Remember, if you can eliminate at least two choices, it’s worth it to guess.
    • Double-check the other choices, just in case.
    • If you have read carefully, your first answer is very often the best one–unless you find new information on the reread.
    • Don’t jump from passage to passage. Answer as many questions as you can on each passage before moving on.
    • If you must jump around, jump around within a set of questions.
    • Remember that going back to questions later may mean rereading the passage.
    • Go back to any questions you’ve skipped and see if you’ve learned any new information or drawn any new conclusions. Remember, your brain is always working, even when you think it’s not!
  • Recommended supplementary material to view SAT questions featured in lesson answer guides: The Official SAT Study Guide by the College Board.

Passage-Based Question Types

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:10
  • What Are Passage Based Questions? 0:55
    • Questions Related to Long, Short, or Paired Passages
    • May Ask You for Info Directly Related in the Passage or to Draw Conclusions or Make Predictions
  • Passage Types 1:32
  • Question Types 2:35
    • Literal Comprehension
    • Vocabulary-In-Context
    • Extended Reasoning
  • Literal Comprehension 3:24
    • Rely On Your Memory or Look Back at Passage
    • Watch Out for 'Reversal Words'
    • Example
  • Vocabulary In Context 4:52
    • Most of These Words Have Multiple meanings
    • Reread the Sentences to Which the Questions Refer
    • Example
  • Extended Reasoning 6:07
    • May Ask You to Determine the Main Idea or Author's Primary Purpose
    • Draw Conclusions Based on the Info Provided
    • Identify the Author's Tone or Attitude
  • Passage-Based Strategies 7:38
    • Take Notes
    • Read What's There… and What Isn't
    • Ask Questions
    • Read the Questions First
  • Key Words and Phrases 11:24
    • When You See: According to the Author
    • When You See: Best
    • When You See: Chiefly
    • When You See: Except
    • When You See: The Author Implies
    • When You See: Least
    • When You See: Mainly
    • When You See: Most
    • When You See: Only
    • When You See: Primarily
  • Passage-Based Tips 14:08
    • All the Answers Will Be In or Implied By the Passage
    • Watch Out for Descriptive Words and Phrases
    • Make Sure the Passage Supports Whichever Answer You Choose
    • Use Process of Elimination
    • If You Must Jump Around, Do So Within a Set of Questions