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Advanced Comprehension Questions

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Advanced Comprehension Questions

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[edit section] Inside SAT Reading Comprehension Guide

  1. Reading a Passage
  2. Basic Comprehension Questions
  3. Analytical Questions
  4. Vocab-in-Context Questions
  5. Advanced Comprehension Questions
  6. Two Passage Questions
  7. More on Analytical Questions
  8. Extension Questions
  9. Summary and Review

[edit section] Advanced Comprehension Questions

SAT Advanced Comprehension
We have previously covered reading comprehension questions. Now, we'll take a look at some of the harder questions that show up on the SAT and what you can expect, as well as a few strategies for answering these tricky questions.


The basic idea behind comprehension questions is to be able to recall what has been presented in the passage. Unlike analysis questions, comprehension questions do not require you to extend or infer from the passage. However, some comprehension questions do ask you to reword an idea or statement already presented in the passage. When you encounter such questions, follow the following strategy: first, identify the sentence(s) in question that you will need to obtain the answer; second, read the text wholly and slowly (do not "scan"); finally, create your own generalization of the text. Match your statement with the choices and hope for the best. Let's see how this strategy works out:


1 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so

2 the cliche holds. It is probably an accurate

3 one, for beauty is a concept with a fleeting

4 definition. In fact, beauty varies from

5 culture to culture - some African cultures

6 find women with large noses particularly

7 attractive, while in the West we favor the

8 quintessential blond. Those who try to

9 impose beauty typically come up short -

10 just ask Hitler how his Aryan race is

11 doing these days. The fact of the matter is

12 that beauty is something to be appreciated

13 and not understood.


Which of the following examples corresponds to the "blond" on line 8?

A) a diamond in the rough

user posted image introspective beauty

C) conflicting perceptions

D) archetypal perceptions

E) extroverted personality


First Step: Which sentence are we looking at? Since the question tells you to look at line 8, you find the complete sentence to be: "...while in the West we favor the quintessential blond."


Second Step: Read the text wholly. What does this sentence mean?


Third Step: Generalize the text. What does the text say? You may summarize the sentence with the word "blond" in it as saying: Different societies have different perceptions of beauty. A blond is an example of a typically-perceived beauty.


Now, examine the choices. Only D, "archetypal perceptions," corresponds to the idea of the blond being a societal-influenced (over-riding) perception of beauty. Note that choices like A and B are the total opposite of D and that choices C and E are totally irrelevant.


Let's try another example:


7: We today find Ibsen's work mundane, even

8: uninspired. In the late nineteenth century,

9: however, Ibsen was not only a maverick

10: but a downright degenerate. In fact, his

11: plays were originally not published in

12: Sweden due to censorship laws. Elsewhere

13: in Europe, Victorian critics derided his

14: immoral, tasteless dramas. The public

15: loved every bit of it. Even with every

16: zealot opposing his productions, Ibsen

17: became a celebrity of a playwright and

18: enjoyed great acclaim in his later years.


Which of the following would be most likely to oppose Ibsen's works?


A) a "maverick" (line 9)

user posted image a "degenerate" (line 10)

C) the "public" (line 14)

D) a "zealot" (line 16)

E) a "playwright" (line 17)


First Step: Since the words in question come from all over the passage (lines 9-17), it would be best for you just to re-read the passage.


Second Step: Now, mentally determine who would be most likely to oppose his works (instead of endorsing them).


Third Step: If you identified the answer to be the "Victorian critics," you are correct. The point of the passage is that despite heavy criticism, Ibsen became a successful and acclaimed playwright in Europe.


Now, let's apply our statement to the answers. Only a "zealot," or religious fanatic, would be likely to fall in the same camp as a "Victorian." Mavericks, degenerates, the public, and certainly playwrights were not necessarily Victorians.


Now what if you don't know what Victorian means? You should still be able to answer this question. First, you should understand that Ibsen was a "maverick" and a "degenerate," at least according to the passage, and that his plays were not published due to censorship issues. Therefore, it is likely that the "Victorian critics" fell into line with those who opposed Ibsen. College Board and the SAT writers will often throw in terms like "Victorian" to confuse you, but do not be alarmed. Just be calm, read the context of the word in question, and form your own definition.


Are you starting to get the hang of it? Let's try one last example (this is a short one):


3 And I did tell him - I said, oh yes suh - ain't

4 nothin' wrong with that. She walkin' by with

5 them peaches in the basket, yes suh - and

6 I know what I is seeing there, yes suh - but

7 ain't she Susie's daughter? Yes, yes, she

8 was. It didn't matter, though - back then

9 she was just some fine 'lookin gal. It was

10 only years later that I would realize that

11 she was a hybrid if you could say that,

12 well, a mixture, of two colors, races, and

13 peoples. Not for me, no suh.


What are the speaker's feelings about Susie?


A) He detests her because of her racial background

user posted image He pities her single-parent upbringing

C) He longs for her and has inculcated emotions for her

D) He does not trust her

E) He finds her attractive despite societal conventions


First off, you should recognize that the passage is written in obfuscated, difficult-to-understand half-prose. This is considered "dialect," which is always a possibility on the SAT. Even though the College Board usually avoids questions that involve understanding "dialect," it is best for you to be familiar with these questions. Now, let's move through our steps. Begin by reading the passage specifically with the idea of the speaker's feelings in mind. Look for attitudes, emotions, and statements. You should come up with these ideas:


  • The speaker is attracted to Susie ("ain't nothin' wrong with that")
  • The speaker is speaking about her in the past tense
  • The speaker says that Susie is "not for him"
  • Susie is of a different race than the Speaker


Now, find choices that match those statements. Only E, which states that the speaker does find Susie attractive despite societal expectations, accurately mirrors the attitudes in the passage.


In our next lesson, we will explore approaches to long passages. For now, complete SAT CR Comprehension IV quiz and see how you stack up!


[edit section] Additional Resources



[edit section] Inside SAT Reading Comprehension Guide

  1. Reading a Passage
  2. Basic Comprehension Questions
  3. Analytical Questions
  4. Vocab-in-Context Questions
  5. Advanced Comprehension Questions
  6. Two Passage Questions
  7. More on Analytical Questions
  8. Extension Questions
  9. Summary and Review

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