Cracking the New SAT with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition (2015)
Part II. How to Crack the Reading Test
Chapter 4. More Question Types
In this chapter we’ll take a look at some of the remaining question types, including general questions, paired questions, and quantitative questions. For the most part, these questions will still follow the Basic Approach, but the general paired questions and quantitative questions will look a little different.
MORE QUESTION TYPES ON THE READING TEST
In this chapter, we’ll look at other question types you’ll see on the SAT Reading Test, including paired questions, main idea questions, general questions, questions featuring charts and graphs, and questions based on dual passage sets.
Remember the Windshield-Pitting passage from the last chapter? We’ll continue to use it for the questions in this chapter, too.
Questions 11-21 are based on the following passage.
This passage is adapted from Linton Weeks’s “The Windshield-Pitting Mystery of 1954.” © 2015 by NPR History Dept.
You will notice on every passage, there is at least one set of questions that are paired together. The first question looks and sounds just like a regular question. It may ask about a detail, it may be an inference question, or it may be a main idea question. The second question in the pair will always ask, “Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?” There are two types of paired questions: specific and general.
Specific Paired Questions
The specific paired questions are a fabulous two-for-one deal. If you’re following all the steps of the Basic Approach, you’ll find when you get to the “best evidence” question of a specific paired set, you’ve already answered it. This is because you’ve already found the best evidence when you carefully read your window and underlined your prediction. Let’s take a look at a set.
16.According to the passage, what percent of cars in Washington suffered damage?
C)Between 5% and 6%
D)Less than 1%
17.Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A)Lines 6-11 (“The epidemic’s…March.”)
B)Lines 15-18 (“In Canton…April 17.”)
C)Lines 44-48 (“There are…cars.”)
D)Lines 55-57 (“The cause…them.”)
Start with the first question. This question is very straightforward to answer by itself. All you need to do is find out what percent of the cars in Washington were damaged. Although there isn’t a given line reference, you can still skim through the text looking for the lead words Washington and percent. You’ll find these in the sixth paragraph, around lines 35–49. The text clearly states that less than 1% of cars suffered damage. Underline that line and choose (D) for question 16. Then, because you already have the “best evidence” underlined, when you get to question 17, you’ve already answered it. Just find your line reference in the answers, bubble it in, and move on.
General Paired Sets and Parallel POE
Not all sets of paired questions will be as easy as specific paired sets, but they’ll still be approachable. If you have a question that is a main idea/general question or a question without a clear Line Reference or Lead Word, Parallel POE is a very useful strategy.
Not sure where to find
the answer? Let the “best
evidence” lines help!
Using Parallel POE, you’ll be able to work through the questions at the same time! When you find yourself faced with a set of paired questions, you can start with the second question (the “best evidence” question) if (1) you aren’t sure where to look for the answer or (2) the first question is a general question about the passage. Because the second question in the pair asks which lines provide the best evidence for the previous question, you can use those lines to help work through the answers for the previous question. Let’s take a look.
20.Based on the passage, the author most likely agrees that “pitting” is
A)a coincidence based on group observations.
B)the result of cosmic rays and nuclear fallout.
C)an example of mass hysteria similar to the Salem Witch trials.
D)the result of a streak of vandalism in the spring of 1954.
21.Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A)Lines 12-14 (“Panicked residents…tests.”)
B)Lines 30-32 (“As summer…shelters.”)
C)Lines 60-64 (“The idea…guillotine.”)
D)Lines 86-89 (“I suspect…it.”)
When you read question 20, you might have an initial feeling of, “Well, that could be from anywhere in the passage.” Sure could. Now you’re potentially faced with the worst scavenger hunt ever. Instead of wading through the entire passage, though, and trying to find something you think answers the question and then hope it’s included in the “best evidence” question, go to the “best evidence” first! This is the Parallel POE strategy.
What’s great about Parallel POE is that, in the first instance, the original question does not even matter. Think for a moment about how paired questions operate. The correct answer to the first question must be supported by an answer to the evidence question, and the correct answer to the evidence question must support an answer to the first question. In other words, if there is an evidence answer that doesn’t support an answer to the first question, it is wrong. Period. Likewise, if there is an answer to the first question that isn’t supported by an evidence answer, it too is wrong. Period.
Let’s use this to our advantage! Rather than worry about what the first question is asking and what the answer might be, just start making connections between the two answer sets. If an evidence answer supports a first question answer, literally draw a line connecting them. You should not expect to have four connections. If you are lucky, you will have only one connection, and you will therefore have your answer pair. Otherwise, you might have two or three connections and will then (and only then) worry about the first question. The important thing to remember is that any answer choice in the first question that isn’t physically connected to an evidence answer—and any evidence answer that isn’t connected to an answer in the first question—must be eliminated.
Let’s take a look at how this first Parallel POE pass would look. (The paired questions have been arranged in two columns to help understand this, and the lines have been written out for your convenience. This does not represent what you will see on the official test.)
Don’t worry about the question itself yet. Go straight to the “best evidence” lines.
•21 (A) says “Panicked residents” suspected “everything from cosmic rays to sand-flea eggs to fallout from H-bomb tests.” Read through all four answer choices for question 20. Do you see any answers that those lines support? Notice 20 (B) pretty much says the same thing? Draw a line connecting 21 (A) with 20 (B). Nothing else from question 20 matches with 21 (A), so let’s move on to 21 (B).
•21 (B) says As summer rolled on, reports of pitting decreased everywhere and the country moved on to building backyard fallout shelters. Looking through the answers for question 20, there’s nothing that is supported by these lines, so we can eliminate 21 (B). It doesn’t matter what the question asks; if there’s no support, the answer cannot be right.
•21 (C) says “The idea came from Gustave Le Bon, a French theorist trying to explain the strange behavior of large groups during the French Revolution, in which average citizens began killing large numbers of people via the guillotine.” As with 21 (B), there are no answers in the first question that are supported by these lines, so 21 (C) is gone.
•21 (D) says “I suspect that most people already had these pits all along and only attributed it to the mysterious cause when they heard other people doing it” which seems to pretty clearly support 20 (A). Draw a line physically connecting 21 (D) with 20 (A).
Now, notice that (C) and (D) in question 20 have no support? Regardless of the question or what you read in the text, if the answers have no support from the “best evidence” question, they cannot be right. Eliminate those two.
Your question should look something like this at this point:
Now you’re down to a very nice 50/50 split. Go back to the question. Of the two pairs, which one best describes pitting in a way the author would most likely agree with? The author definitely did not believe the pitting was caused by cosmic rays or nuclear fallout, so you can eliminate the 20 (B)/21 (A) pair, leaving you with the correct answer of 20 (A)/21 (D).
On the official test, it would be too complicated to draw a full table, so all you need to do is create a column to the left of the “best evidence” choices for the answers to the previous question. It should look something like this:
21.Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A)Lines 12-14 (“Panicked residents…tests.”)
B)Lines 30-32 (“As summer…shelters.”)
C)Lines 60-64 (“The idea…guillotine.”)
D)Lines 86-89 (“I suspect…it.”)
Since you can’t draw a full
table on the actual exam,
try making notations as
shown in question 21; that
is, create a column to the
left of the “best evidence”
answer choices listing
out the choices to the
Main Idea/General Questions
For many of the Reading passages, the very first question will ask a general question about the passage. It might ask about the main idea or purpose of the passage, the narrative point of view, or a shift that occurs through the passage. Remember the Select a Question step? Those general questions are not good to do first because you haven’t read the passage yet, but once you’ve done most of the other questions, you have a really good idea of the overall themes of the text.
Let’s take a look at the first question from the windshield passage:
11.The central claim of the passage is that
Because this question asks about the central claim of the passage, there’s no one place you can look. General questions don’t have line references or lead words, so there’s no way to use the text to predict an answer. It’s okay, though: You’ve answered almost all of the questions about the passage, so you know what the main idea of the passage is. Not only that, but you also have a good sense of what the test writers found most interesting about the passage. While having this knowledge does not always help, it sure can sometimes. If there are answer choices that have nothing to do with either the questions or the answers you’ve seen repeatedly, you can probably eliminate them and instead choose the one that is consistent with those questions and answers.
Let’s take a look at the answers:
A)windshield pitting was a major source of concern for most drivers in 1954.
B)windshield pitting turned out to be nothing but a prank.
C)widespread focus on a specific event can make random occurrences seem significant.
D)lack of consensus for an event’s explanation can cause hysteria.
Remember: If it’s a central claim, it’s a main point of the text. What can you eliminate?
Choice (A) might look good initially because it has the words “windshield pitting,” “drivers,” and “1954,” but this is definitely not a central claim of the passage.
Choice (B) can be eliminated because the only mention of a prank was as a possible theory put forward by someone else.
Choice (C) looks pretty good. You’ve already answered several specific questions dealing with this idea.
Choice (D) might look pretty good at first, too. When you go back to the text, though, you see that the author’s central claim is not about the lack of consensus causing the hysteria. That’s a part of it, but it’s not a complete answer.
Choice (C) is best supported by the text and all the other questions you’ve answered.
Charts and Graphs
Charts, graphs, and diagrams are no longer limited to the Math Test! You will now see a variety of graphics in the Reading Test and even in the Writing and Language Test! (More on the Writing and Language test later.) The good news is that the graphics you’ll be dealing with in the Reading Test are very straightforward and do not require any computations. All you need to do is make sure you can put your pencil on the place on the graphic that proves a reason to keep or eliminate an answer choice. Let’s take a look at an example.
Data collected by Insurance Information Institute, http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/auto-insurance.
Step 1: Read the graphic. Carefully look at the title, axis labels, and legend. Notice on this graph we’re looking at Average Expenditures for Auto Insurance from 2008–2012. The years are listed across the horizontal axis, and the amount, in dollars, is listed on the vertical axis. According to the legend, we are comparing the entire country to Alaska, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.
Step 2: Read your question.
30.According to the graph, which of the following statements is most consistent with the data?
Since the question asks you which is consistent with the data, see if you can find specific reasons to eliminate three answer that are NOT consistent with the data. Another possibility for Charts and Graphs questions is to simply find the data point that answers the question.
Step 3: Read your answers.
A)Auto insurance expenditures have increased in all states from 2008–2012.
B)Of all the states shown on the graph, New York had the greatest total increase in auto insurance expenditures.
C)The states shown on the graph all have auto insurance expenditures higher than the United States’ average.
D)North Carolina drivers are better than New York drivers.
Let’s take another look at the graph, this time looking for specific reasons to keep or eliminate answers.
Based on the data shown, (B) is the correct answer.
Now you try one.
31.Data in the graph indicate that Rhode Island’s average expenditure for auto insurance was closest to the national average in which year?
Here’s How to Crack It
The question only asks about Rhode Island and the national average (which indicates the United States line). That means you only need to worry about those two lines. Find the place where those two lines are the closest and put your pencil on it. Notice the Rhode Island line is just about parallel to the United States line, except where it dips down before it goes back up? That dip is where the lines are closest together, which is in 2009. Your answer is (A)! Notice there was no need to eliminate the three wrong answer choices because we were able to simply find the data point that answered the question? Sometimes it really will be that simple. Just make sure you have the information to support your answer.
One of your Science or History/Social Studies passages will be a set of dual passages. There will be two shorter passages about one topic. Although the two passages will be about the same topic, there will also be differences that you’ll need to pay attention to. Rather than attempting to read and understand both passages at the same time, just follow the Basic Approach and focus on one at a time.
The questions for Passage 1 will come before the questions for Passage 2, and the questions for each passage follow the order of the passage, just like single-passage questions. The questions about both passages will follow the questions for Passage 2.
For questions asking to compare or contrast both passages, it’s helpful to consider one passage at a time rather than trying to juggle both passages at the same time. First, find the answer for the first passage (or the second passage if that one is easier) and use POE to narrow down the answer choices. Then find the answer in the other passage and use POE to arrive at the correct answer. This will save time and keep you from confusing the two passages when you’re evaluating the answer choices. Always keep in mind that the same POE criteria apply, no matter how two-passage questions are presented.
•If a question is about what is supported by both passages, make sure that you find specific support in both passages, and be wary of all the usual trap answers.
•If a question is about an issue on which the authors of the two passages disagree or on how the passages relate to one another, make sure you find support in each passage for the author’s particular opinion.
•If the question asks how one author would respond to the other passage, find out what was said in that other passage, and then find out exactly what the author you are asked about said on that exact topic.
The bottom line is that if you are organized and remember your basic reading comprehension strategy, you’ll see that two-passage questions are no harder than single-passage questions! In the following drill, you’ll have a chance to try a set of dual passages. Answers and explanations can be found at the end of the chapter.
Questions 12-22 are based on the following passage.
Passage 1 is adapted from Louisa Twining, “Workhouses and Women’s Work” © 1857 by The National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. Passage 2 is adapted from Florence Nightingale and William Rathbone, “Workhouse Nursing, the Story of a Successful Experiment” © 1867 by Macmillan and Co.
12.The primary purpose of Passage 1 is to
A)praise an effective structure.
B)criticize a social group.
C)examine the finances of a system.
D)advocate for a necessary change.
13.Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A)Lines 13-16 (“Efficient nurses…pay”)
B)Lines 16-19 (“One of…it”)
C)Lines 22-27 (“but in…week”)
D)Lines 28-32 (“Seeing how…law”)
14.As used in lines 21, “maintained” most nearly means
15.The phrase in lines 34-35 (“we could hardly hope”) most directly suggests that
A)an ideal candidate should be found for a position.
B)people who go to hospitals should be critical of nurses.
C)allowances should be made, since no person is perfect.
D)an improvement is still likely to have some flaws.
16.Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A)Lines 13-16 (“Efficient nurses…pay”)
B)Lines 19-22 (“Of course…parish”)
C)Lines 29-32 (“it would…law”)
D)Lines 35-38 (“from what…plan”)
17.The final sentence of Passage 1 has which effect?
A)It emphasizes that the current situation is unpleasant.
B)It shares the author’s despair over the circumstances.
C)It casts an entirely optimistic light on a proposal.
D)It evokes the generally low opinion held for a certain group.
18.It can be most directly inferred from the second paragraph of Passage 2 (lines 46-56) that the first year of the experiment described in the passage was unusual in
A)having weather that caused an uncharacteristic amount of illness.
B)the overall number of people who required medical treatment.
C)that effective medical treatment exceeded statistical expectations.
D)the number of people who died from disease.
19.The author of Passage 2 references a “careful classified list of cases” (line 64) in order to
A)specify what will be required of all workhouses in the future, if the experiment continues.
B)explain a missing element that would have ensured an outcome.
C)reveal an inconsistency which made more accurate analysis impossible.
D)detail the extent to which records can be kept over a long period.
20.As used in line 69, the phrase “character of seasons” most nearly means
A)changes in morality.
C)the overall health during a period.
D)the unpredictable nature of human behavior.
21.The author of Passage 1 would most likely respond to the phrase in lines 46-47 (“With the exception…class”) of Passage 2 by
A)expressing surprise at an unexpected result that is inconsistent with prior observations.
B)acknowledging that an ideal situation may not be practical to attain.
C)noting that intervention earlier in life may have changed an outcome.
D)suggesting that the data may not be entirely representative.
22.Which choice best describes the relationship between the two passages?
A)Passage 2 describes a scenario that addresses some elements of the situation shown in Passage 1.
B)Passage 2 discusses potential results of the overall problem reviewed in Passage 1.
C)Passage 2 underscores the futility of attempts to resolve the concerns of Passage 1.
D)Passage 2 resolves the issues brought to light in Passage 1.
DUAL-PASSAGE DRILL ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS
12. DBecause this is a general question followed by a “best evidence” question, Parallel POE lets you use the answers for the next question to help with this one. Remember: You can look at the lines given in the “best evidence” question and see if they support any of these answers. None of the answers from the next question seem to support (A), so you can eliminate it. Choice (B) might initially seem to be supported by (B) from the next question, so keep that pair. Choice (C) might have a connection with (D) from the next question, as it mentions “matters of expense,” so keep that pair. Choice (D) is supported by (C) from the next question. Now consider your remaining pairs. The passage discusses the evils of the employment of pauper nurses, and that in no case should they be left with the sole charge and responsibility of sick [patients], as they continually are at present; the passage is primarily concerned with describing a system that needs to be changed. The passage is not criticizing a social group or focusing specifically on financial matters. This leaves (D) as the right answer, automatically making (C) the right answer for the “best evidence” question.
13. CBecause this is a “best evidence” question following a general question, Parallel POE lets you use the answers for this question to help with the previous one. Remember: You can look at the lines given in the “best evidence” question and see if they support any of the answers to the previous question. Choice (A) does not support any of the answers from the previous question, so you can eliminate it. Choice (B) in this question seems to support (B) in the previous question, since the lines refer to a woman who’s proud of being in jail, so keep that pair. Choice (C) in this question supports (D) in the previous question, since the lines show a problem that clearly needs to be changed, and (D) in this question seems to support (C) from the previous question, as it mentions “matters of expense” and “finances of a system.” Now you’re down to three pairs, so go back to the question. It’s asking about the primary purpose of the passage. The passage discusses the evils of the employment of pauper nurses, and that in no case should they be left with the sole charge and responsibility of sick [patients], as they continually are at present, the passage is primarily concerned with describing a system that needs to be changed. The passage is not criticizing a social group or focusing specifically on financial matters. This leaves (D) as the right answer to question 12, automatically making (C) the right answer for the “best evidence” question.
14. ACareful reading is necessary in order to dissect the context of the word maintained in the passage. The passage draws a contrast between pauper and efficient nurses. Those refers to pauper nurses, since in no case should they be left with the sole charge…of sick [people], which the passage indicates immediately after referring to the evils of the employment of pauper nurses. Since a pauper is “one who relies on charity,” pauper nurses can be inferred to rely on charity. Thus, since these pauper nurses must be maintained at the cost of the parish, maintained can be inferred to mean at least “given assistance with basic needs.” Choice (A) is the best answer, since it matches the predicted answer. Choice (B) is another secondary meaning of maintained, and is not the best answer because it does not match the predicted answer. Choice (C) is tempting, as the passage discusses nurses, but is not the best answer because it does not match the predicted answer. Choice (D) is not the best answer because it also does not match the predicted answer.
15. DThe phrase we could hardly hope refers to whether a paid nurse would be all [the author] could desire for so important a post, indicating that the author does not believe a paid nurse would do a perfect job. The author continues to say that the reason for this judgment is what we know of the paid nurses in hospitals, implying that paid nurses are known to have flaws. Finally, the author states that at any rate there would be a better chance of an effective system with a paid nurse. Thus, the correct answer should indicate that while a paid nurse would be an improvement, the author still expects there to be problems. Choice (A) is not the best answer, since ideal is the opposite of the predicted answer. Choice (B) is not the best answer, since the author discusses paid nurses in hospitalsin order to make a point about what could be expected from a paid nurse in general, not about hospitals themselves, and critical is extreme. Choice (C) is not the best answer because it does not match that there is evidence of a problem with paid nurses in hospitals, and the phrase we could hardly hope does not indicate that all people have flaws. Choice (D) is the best answer, since it matches the prediction.
16. DWhen you made your prediction for the previous question, you should have underlined that such a person would be…all we desire…we could hardly hope, from what we know of the paid nurses in hospitals…but better chance of efficiency and character than present plan. Therefore, (D) is the right answer.
17. AIn the final sentence of Passage 1, the author is acknowledging that a solution has flaws, but that it is nonetheless a preferable solution. By using the phrasing we could hardly hope, and at any rate…better…than…the present plan, the author attempts to gain sympathy for the perspective that the current situation is so negative that even a flawed solution is an improvement. Choice (A) is the best answer because it matches the prediction. Choice (B) is not the best answer, as the author is providing a potential solution, which doesn’t match despair. Choice (C) is not the best answer, since optimistic is the opposite of the predicted answer, and entirely is extreme language. Choice (D) is not the best answer, since the author is not trying to criticize a certain group but rather to show that the overall circumstances require even a flawed solution.
18. BThe second paragraph of Passage 2 indicates that the season was very unhealthy, which means that more people than usual became sick during a particular period. Choice (A) is not the best answer, since the weather is not supported as the cause of sickness. Choice (B) is the best answer, since it matches the prediction. Choice (C) is not the best answer, since the passage indicates that it was impossible…to judge the result by statistics. Choice (D) is not the best answer because—while it could be true—the third paragraph of Passage 2 implies only that the proportion of deaths may have been unusually high, not the number of people who required medical treatment.
19. CThe author of Passage 2 states that It was impossible…to judge the result by statistics, and that even had there been no exceptional disturbing element, there is a defect in the statistics of workhouse hospitals. Thus, the author indicates that there were other reasons statistical results could not be drawn, but that even without those other reasons, workhouse hospitals lack a careful classified list of cases, which would be necessary for statistical analysis. Choice (A) is not the best answer because it does not match the prediction. Choice (B) is not the best answer, since the passage states that there were several reasons for the lack of evidence of success or failure, and the season [being] very unhealthy may still have made analysis impossible. Choice (C) is the best answer because while the author states that there were other reasons that the results could not be judged by statistics, a defect in the statistics…affects all inferences from them. Choice (D) is not the best answer because it does not match the prediction.
20. CPassage 2 refers to a season as very unhealthy as part of the reason that statistics couldn’t be judged accurately. The reference to the character of seasons in the third paragraph of the second passage serves a similar purpose by listing reasons that statistical judgments are difficult to make in general. When compared with the earlier reference to an unhealthy season, the character of seasons refers most clearly to the health of the population during a certain period of time. Choice (A) is not the best answer, since it does not match the prediction. Choice (B) is not the best answer, since it does not match the prediction. Choice (C) is the best answer because it matches the prediction. Choice (D) is not the best answer, as the predicted answer refers to the health of people, not their behavior.
21. BThe phrase with the exception of the failure of the nurses taken from the pauper class very briefly indicates that the pauper nurses included in the experiment made in Passage 2 were not successful. The author of Passage 1 states that it is desirable, if possible, to employ [the pauper nurses], while also stating that the only way…[such] employment…could be [successful]…would be under the constant supervision or trained nurses. The qualifying phrase, if possible, indicates that the author of Passage 2 would prefer that the pauper nurses be involved in a new system, but is not certain that it would be possible to do so. Choice (A) is not the best answer, since the author of Passage 1 indicated prior observations, which were negative towards the pauper nurses. Choice (B) is the best answer, since it matches the prediction. Choice (C) is not the best answer; while it could be true, it is not directly supported by the information in Passage 1. Choice (D) is not the best answer, since it is not supported by any element of Passage 1 and relies on the unrelated surrounding information in Passage 2.
22. AThe first passage describes an overall problem, and the second passage describes a specific attempt to solve the problem. Choice (A) is the best answer because it matches the prediction. Choice (B) is not the best answer, since it does not match the prediction. Choice (C) is not the best answer, as futility is extreme. Choice (D) can be eliminated because resolves is extreme.
○For Paired Sets, make sure you’re following the right strategy.
•Specific Paired Questions simply require you to follow the Basic Approach, making sure you’ve underlined the evidence for your prediction in the text.
•General Paired Questions will be much more straightforward if you use Parallel POE to consider the “best evidence” in tandem with the previous question.
○For Dual Passages, do questions about the first passage first, questions about the second passage second, and dual questions last. Remember that even with dual questions, you must find support in the passages.
○Save Main Idea or General Questions until the end of the passage. POE will be much more efficient once you’ve done all the other questions.
○Don’t get bogged down by hard or time-consuming questions! If you find yourself stuck or running short on time, use LOTD and move on!