- Reading a Passage
- Basic Comprehension Questions
- Analytical Questions
- Vocab-in-Context Questions
- Advanced Comprehension Questions
- Two Passage Questions
- More on Analytical Questions
- Extension Questions
- Summary and Review
[edit section] Analytical Questions
Comprehension questions, which were covered in the previous lesson, test your ability to simply recall or understand information in the passage. Analysis questions actually test your ability to examine an author’s intent, thoughts, and purposes in a passage. Analysis questions also ask you to extend the information presented in a passage to another setting or even infer from the passage – that is, read between the lines. Consider the following brief passage and question:
1 Looking back now, it seems that US attitude
2 toward nuclear war was downright silly back
3 then. Kids hiding under desks, bomb shelters
4 beneath homes, and “massive retaliation” are
5 all memories from those turbulent times. Yet
6 it seems that we were probably right to be
7 anxious about the Soviets and their will to
8 use the bomb. Even in the 60’s, Soviet leader
9 Kruschev launched a bid to move missiles
10 to Cuba. Nuclear war was, in fact, always
11 an imminent possibility – and, no matter
12 how flippant it may seem now, it was better
13 to be prepared than to be annihilated.
With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?
A) Nuclear war is a larger problem now than it was in the 60’s Kruschev would never actually use a nuclear weapon C) The US was prepared for all-out nuclear war in the 60’s D) The US took the threat of nuclear war seriously in the 60’s E) Cuba would not have launched a nuclear attack
After reading the passage and the question, it should be clear to you that nowhere in the passage are any of the five responses directly addressed. In addition, the question asks you to determine which of the following the author would most likely agree with, meaning you will need to check all of the answer choices to come up with a response. Let’s take a look here.
- First, determine what the question is really asking. This is a common type of question (author agreeing with a statement) and you should recognize that you will need to understand the author’s attitude toward nuclear war, based on the passage, to correctly answer the questions.
- Second, answer that driving question yourself. That is, the question is really: What is the author’s attitude toward nuclear war? In this case, he recognizes that nuclear war was a real possibility (line 11 – “imminent possibility”) and basically agrees with the approach to nuclear war that the US took “back then,” saying that it is “better to be prepared.”
- Third, use the statement you developed to address the choices. Apply the statement to each choice:
A) Nuclear war is a larger problem now… This choice does not really apply to the author’s attitude as he didn’t make any type of assertion about the risk of nuclear war today. In fact, if anything, he said that it would now be “silly”
Kruschev would never… This directly contradicts the statement developed above, which is that the author notes nuclear war was a risk
C) The US was prepared… The author does not actually make the statement that the US would be necessarily prepared for nuclear war; this choice is too extreme
D) The US took the threat of nuclear war seriously in the 60’s – Yes! This choice directly relates to and agrees with the statement developed earlier that the author recognizes the possibility of nuclear war and took it seriously.
E) Cuba would not… This is a bogus choice and irrelevant to the passage
Let’s apply the three-step strategy to another passage:
1 Betty and I looked into the foyer. It was
2 a dark, musky kind of room, full of
3 cobwebs covering ancient photographs.
4 It wasn’t really our house – sure, we
5 moved in, but there was a presence to
6 the house, a sense that we were not
7 welcome in the “humble abode.” We
8 were trespassers in this edification,
9 and no matter how much we touched
10 the place up, it was still just not ours.
Which of the following words best describes the narrator’s attitude toward the house?
First Step: What is the question asking? This one is a little more clear – you just need to know how the narrator feels about the house.
Second Step: How does the narrator feel about the house? Based on the passage, it seems that the narrator does not really feel part of the house (line 4 – “wasn’t really our house”, lines 6-7 “not welcome”)
Third Step: Only the word “distant” reflects that the narrator does not feel part of the house (he is at an emotional distance from the house)
In our next lesson, we’ll examine some other strategies for answering SAT Critical Reading questions. For now, take the SAT CR II quiz on the Quiz School and see how you fare.
[edit section] Additional Resources