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Conquering Hard Passages

Answers and Explanations: Add the Details

1. Original: Though the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act in 1999 did not engender excessive controversy, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, some members of Congress are now pushing to resuscitate the legislation, which was originally passed in 1933 to separate traditional banks from the riskier financial services industry.

Simplified: Members of Congress are doing something to the legislation.

What does do something mean? To bring back.

The descriptive phrase at the beginning of this sentence tells us that the act was repealed in 1999. It also starts with though, which tells us that what comes later goes against the first part. There is another tough vocab word in there, engender, but focus on the easier words not and controversyinstead. So the beginning tells us the repeal was not controversial, and we know because of the though at the beginning that what comes next will be different. If the repeal was not controversial at first, but now it is, what would members of Congress be doing? Probably the opposite of repeal, which would be to bring back.

What is the legislation about? Separating banking from financial services.

Just knowing the name of the legislation (the Glass Steagall Act) is not all that helpful, but the phrase at the end of the sentence that starts with which tells us what it did.

New sentence: Members of Congress are pushing to bring back the legislation that separates banking from financial services.

2. Original: William Perkin unwittingly produced mauve, the first synthetic dye, while trying to engineer artificial quinine in his endeavor to cure malaria.

Simplified: A guy produced something while trying to do something else.

What does something mean? The first synthetic dye.

The information is in a descriptive phrase that we cut the first time through.

What does something else mean? Something that helps cure malaria.

The prepositional phrase that we cut tells us that artificial quinine, the tough vocabulary here, has something to do with curing malaria.

New sentence: A guy produced the first synthetic dye while trying to help cure malaria.


If you need more details, add them back in as needed after simplifying the sentence.

• Look at descriptive phrases and prepositional phrases, which will give you more information about tough vocabulary words.

• Look at conjunctions in a sentence that might give you a clue about whether the different parts say similar or different things. If one part of a sentence is easy to understand, a conjunction can help you make sense of the other part.