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Extension 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] Extension Questions

In previous questions, we discussed a little bit about inference questions. Inference questions tend to be the most difficult of the comprehension section simply because they require the student to comprehend, analyze, and extend. We will take a brief look at how to tackle these "extension" questions. Consider the brief passage snippet below:


5 If we want to stop prejudice and hate in the world,

6 we must first recognize that we share more in common

7 than we like to think and that our differences are

8 mainly trivial and superficial.


Based on the passage above, which inferences can you make about the author's attitudes about a related topic, such as that of racial discrimination? You may be asked a question just like this on the actual test:


5. Based on lines 5-8, which of the following statements likely describes the author's attitude toward racial discrimination?


A. It is uniquely an American occurrence

B. It is based on the vast contrasts between various races in society

C. It is based on ignorance

D. It is a growing trend

E. It will always be ignored


Only choice C is directly supported by the text: "we must recognize..." implying that we do not already. Notice why each of the other choices is wrong:


  • A: There is no indication that racism is unique to any particular society
  • B: The author says that differences are "trivial"
  • D: There is no indication that the author believes racism is a growing trend
  • E: Nothing indicates that racism will be ignored


So, C is a reasonable answer. Let's try another passage snippet:


17 She cautiously opened the door, peeking

18 around the corner for any onlookers. Feeling

19 uneasy, she entered the room, crept to the safe,

20 and removed the documents.


Now, before you begin to attempt the next question, ask yourself: "What is going on here?" Obviously, this is some sort of narrative, and it is describing a female character who is taking extra precautions to remove "documents." You should make mental notes on the snippet like:


  • She is probably taking papers in secret
  • There are people who could be nearby ("peeking... onlookers")
  • She is nervous ("uneasy")
  • The documents are valuable ("safe")


All of the points above are not directly stated in the passage but are supported by the text of the passage. So, if you are given a question like:


3. It can be inferred that she is taking the documents:


A. With the permission of the owners

B. To commit a criminal act

C. Under a great deal of stress and anxiety

D. Without knowledge of the information they contain

E. With the consent of the original author


You should know that only choice C, "under a great deal of stress and anxiety," is directly supported by the text, "uneasy." The other choices are just not supported by the text or are over-drawn inferences. Take a look at choice B. It makes sense - after all, she is uneasy and is doing this in secret. But do you really think B is the best answer? Is there conclusive evidence she is doing anything remotely criminal? Always ask yourself to demonstrate why an answer is correct. If you can't explain it to yourself, try explaining it to an examiner.


We hope that today's lesson has given you a clearer idea of how to address inference and extension questions. Try the next SAT Reading Comprehension quiz and see how you fare!


[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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