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Two Passage Questions

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Two Passage 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] Two Passage Questions

So far, we have focused on question types involving a single passage. Today, we will look at how you can go about answering two-passage questions.


You will be asked to answer questions based on two passages rather than a single passage. These questions will be immediately identified by information before the passage pertaining to two different passages. As always, read this information before you begin to read the passages. We cannot stress this enough! The information will often contain clues about the purpose, origin, speaker, or setting of the passage. It will also differentiate between the two passages and their respective intents.


Once you have read the information, stop. Go to the first question and work on it as you would with a typical "long passage" - read the question and then look to the passage for all of the clues to the answer. The questions will be ordered by the sequence of the texts, meaning that first passage questions are followed by second passage questions. These are essentially the same kinds of questions you will encounter in "long passages."


However, at the end of the second passage questions, the College Board likes to throw in a bunch of analysis and evaluation questions based on comparing and contrasting the two passages. In general, one passage will support one view while the other passage will support a different view. However, sometimes you will encounter two concurring passages, or two passages on completely different topics. The first thing you want to do when you get to the "comparison" questions is to summarize what the passages were about - that is, make a mental note of exactly what each passage said. For example, you may summarize:


Passage 1: Believes that religion is the source of major conflicts in the world

Passage 2: Discusses the benefits of sprituality and religious life


Next, take a look at the questions. They come in a variety of forms, most of which are discussed below.


  • "How would the author of passage 2 likely respond to the author of passage 1 in his claim that "religion was the source of wars in the 17th century?" - This general type of question is based on inference. You will not find the direct answer to this question in the passage. Instead, you should base your answer on the attitude of the author of passage two and the choices given. For example, knowing that the author of passage two is "pro-religion," you should assume that the author would counter the first passage author's statement.
  • "Which of the following is a view expressed by both passages?" This is a classic comparison question. You are being asked to compare the two passages and find some kind of common ground. So, you are looking for a generalized idea that both authors would agree with based directly on the text. This is NOT an inference question, so do not infer what the author of passage two would feel. Only base your answer on the text.
  • "Which of the following is a difference between passage one and two?" This is a classic contrast question in which you are expected to point out the key differences between the two passages. This is not an inference question; you must be able to support your answer with direct sourcing from the text.


These are the basic forms of the compare/contrast questions. They are few in number but very important in scope as they are typically easier questions and therefore are "giveaway" points. Master the three question types above and you should do well!


[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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