In this lesson, our professor Vincent Selhorst-Jones gives an introduction on critical reading: passage-based reading. He discusses types of passages, reading the italics, reading skills, 'best' choices, reading before and after reference, what the author's saying, double passage and author viewpoint, and eliminating wrong choices.
Each Passage-Based Reading subsection will have a few passages of varying length, and each passage is followed by some questions about it.
The passages come in two different types: short and long. The short passages are normally one paragraph, while the long passages can range from three to six paragraphs or so. Occasionally you will also get a double passage-a pairing of either two short or two long passages on the same topic.
Start off by reading the italics at the beginning of each passage. They give a short description of the passage and help frame what you're about to read.
To do well on Passage-Based Reading, you need to be a capable reader. If you struggle a lot with reading, that means you need to practice! The best way to improve is to get in the habit of reading regularly. Get a book, a magazine, or a newspaper and start reading every day! Also, make sure to check out the next lesson on reading strategies that can help you make it through the passages.
In English questions, your job is to find the "best" answer. This means you have to always read all the choices before answering. It also means that the correct answer is not always a great answer-just the least bad choice.
Most of the questions in the Passage-Based Reading subsection are put in the order they appear in the text. Normally the questions help you find where they appear in the text by giving a line number, or at least mentioning the location in some other manner.
Use these line references! It's critical that you go read the part of the text being referenced. You'll also need context to understand what's going on, so start a few lines above and read until a few lines after.
Every answer must come from the text. When you answer a question, you should be able to point out your evidence in the text. If there's no evidence for a choice, then it's not the answer. Normally the answers will be very near the line reference and won't require deep analysis.
The correct answer is almost never extreme. If you see a choice with a very strong viewpoint, it's probably not right.
As you read the passage, try to get a sense of what the author's main point is. Most of the questions about a passage will be somehow connected to the main idea the author is exploring or arguing. Once you know what that is, it's much easier to find the answers.
It's especially important to understand each author's viewpoint on the double passage questions. A lot of the questions in a double passage are about how one author would view the other author's text. To be able to answer those questions, you need to know the essence of each author's argument.
Critical Reading: Passage-Based Reading
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