The SAT is just a few weeks away, and most of you would be burning the midnight oil. If your preparation is on track, you would have realized that there are a few question types that are often tested on the Reading and Writing section of the exam. And once you master the strategies to solve those questions, the exam is a cakewalk.
In this piece, we bring in a few of those frequently-tested question types that will help you sail through the exam.
Go ahead, solve these questions, and see how prepared you are!
This passage is adapted from William Maxwell, The Folded Leaf. ©1959 by William Maxwell. Originally published in 1945.
The Alcazar Restaurant was on Sheridan Road near Devon Avenue. It was long and narrow, with tables for two along the walls and tables for four down the middle. The decoration was art moderne, 5 except for the series of murals depicting the four seasons, and the sick ferns in the front window. Lymie sat down at the second table from the cash register, and ordered his dinner. The history book, which he propped against the catsup and the glass 10 sugar bowl, had been used by others before him. Blank pages front and back were filled in with maps, drawings, dates, comic cartoons, and organs of the body; also with names and messages no longer clear and never absolutely legible. On nearly every other 15 page there was some marginal notation, either in ink or in very hard pencil. And unless someone had upset a glass of water, the marks on page 177 were from tears.
While Lymie read about the Peace of Paris, signed 20 on the thirtieth of May, 1814, between France and the Allied powers, his right hand managed again and again to bring food up to his mouth. Sometimes he chewed, sometimes he swallowed whole the food that he had no idea he was eating. The Congress of 25 Vienna met, with some allowance for delays, early in November of the same year, and all the powers engaged in the war on either side sent plenipotentiaries. It was by far the most splendid and important assembly ever convoked to discuss and 30 determine the affairs of Europe. The Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia, the Kings of Bavaria, Denmark, and Wurttemberg, all were present in person at the court of the Emperor Francis I in the Austrian capital. When Lymie put down his fork and 35 began to count them off, one by one, on the fingers of his left hand, the waitress, whose name was Irma, thought he was through eating and tried to take his plate away. He stopped her. Prince Metternich (his right thumb) presided over the Congress, and 40 Prince Talleyrand (the index finger) represented France.
A party of four, two men and two women, came into the restaurant, all talking at once, and took possession of the center table nearest Lymie. 45 The women had shingled hair and short tight skirts which exposed the underside of their knees when they sat down. One of the women had the face of a young boy but disguised by one trick or another (rouge, lipstick, powder, wet bangs plastered against 50 the high forehead, and a pair of long pendent earrings) to look like a woman of thirty-five, which as a matter of fact she was. The men were older. They laughed more than there seemed any occasion for, while they were deciding between soup and shrimp 55 cocktail, and their laughter was too loud. But it was the women’s voices, the terrible not quite sober pitch of the women’s voices which caused Lymie to skim over two whole pages without knowing what was on them. Fortunately he realized this and went back. 60 Otherwise he might never have known about the secret treaty concluded between England, France, and Austria, when the pretensions of Prussia and Russia, acting in concert, seemed to threaten a renewal of the attack. The results of the Congress 65 were stated clearly at the bottom of page 67 and at the top of page 68, but before Lymie got halfway through them, a coat that he recognized as his father’s was hung on the hook next to his chair. Lymie closed the book and said, “I didn’t think you 70 were coming.”
Time is probably no more unkind to sporting characters than it is to other people, but physical decay unsustained by respectability is somehow more noticeable. Mr. Peters’ hair was turning gray and his 75 scalp showed through on top. He had lost weight also; he no longer filled out his clothes the way he used to. His color was poor, and the flower had disappeared from his buttonhole. In its place was an American Legion button.
80 Apparently he himself was not aware that there had been any change. He straightened his tie self-consciously and when Irma handed him a menu, he gestured with it so that the two women at the next table would notice the diamond ring on the fourth 85 finger of his right hand. Both of these things, and also the fact that his hands showed signs of the manicurist, one can blame on the young man who had his picture taken with a derby hat on the back of his head, and also sitting with a girl in the curve of 90 the moon. The young man had never for one second deserted Mr. Peters. He was always there, tugging at Mr. Peters’ elbow, making him do things that were not becoming in a man of forty-five.
1. The main purpose of the first paragraph is to
A. introduce the passage’s main character by showing his nightly habits.
B. indicate the date the passage takes place by presenting period details.
C. convey the passage’s setting by describing a place and an object.
D. foreshadow an event that is described in detail later in the passage.
This question asks for the primary purpose of the first paragraph only. To solve such questions, it is important to read the entire paragraph, understand its overall theme, and then eliminate options.
The former part of the first paragraph describes the Alcazar Restaurant - its appearance, decor, murals, and the overall ambience. The latter half gives details about the history book that Lymie is reading - its blank pages, maps, drawings, and the notes written in it.
Option A is incorrect because neither Lymie nor his habits have been described. We cannot imply that visiting the restaurant and reading the history book are regular habits of Lymie. Option B is incorrect because the paragraph does not give details about the time period in which the events take place. Option D is incorrect because the first paragraph does not provide an indication or a warning of events to come later; it merely describes the restaurant and the book that Lymie is reading.
Hence, the correct answer is option C.
2. Lymie’s primary impression of the “party of four” (line 42) is that they A. are noisy and distracting.
B. are a refreshing change from the other customers.
C. resemble characters from his history book.
D. represent glamour and youth.
This is the first part of the evidence-based questions that are often tested on the exam. To solve such questions, you must reread the location stated in the passage and, then, eliminate options.
To solve this question, we must go back to the relevant location, which is the beginning of the third paragraph. A little reading later into the paragraph tells us that Lymie finds the group of four disturbing as he was not able to read effectively and he skimmed “over two whole pages without knowing what was on them.”
Quite a few phrases in the paragraph such as “their laughter was too loud” and “the terrible not quite sober pitch of the women’s voices” point to the fact that Lymie found the group noisy.
Option B is incorrect because no comparison is drawn between the group and the other customers. Option C is incorrect because the author does not bring about any resemblance between the characters of the history book and members of the group. Option D is incorrect because the author does not imply that Lymie finds the group glamorous and youthful.
Hence, the correct answer is option A.
3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
A. Lines 45-47 (“The women... down”)
B. Lines 47-52 (“One... was”)
C. Lines 55-59 (“But... them”)
D. Line 69 (“Lymie... book”)
In such questions, you are expected to provide evidence for the answer to the previous question. If you are ever unsure about the answers to such questions, it would be worthwhile to work on the previous and this question simultaneously. You could also start backwards: look for the line numbers and then get an understanding of the answers to the previous question.
As discussed in the explanation for the previous question, Lymie finds the loud laughter and the pitch of the women disturbing. This helps us get to option C as the right answer.
Option A and B are incorrect because they merely describe the women; they do not tell us how Lymie felt about them. Option D is incorrect because it is irrelevant to the group; rather, it describes the entry of his father.
4. The narrator indicates that Lymie finally closes the history book because
A. his father has joined him at the table.
B. the people at the other table are too disruptive.
C. he has finished the chapter about the Congress.
D. he is preparing to leave the restaurant.
The use of the word ‘indicates’ in the question tells us that this is a factual question. In such questions, you are simply required to read the location, match the keywords, and eliminate options.
The location in the passage states that “The results of the Congress were stated clearly at the bottom of page 67 and at the top of page 68, but before Lymie got halfway through them, a coat that he recognized as his father’s was hung on the hook next to his chair. Lymie closed the book and said, “I didn’t think you were coming.”
The context clearly states that because his father came in, “Lymie closed the book.” Hence, the correct answer is option A.
5. As used in line 93, “becoming” most nearly means
The context says, “He was always there, tugging at Mr. Peters’ elbow, making him do things that were not becoming in a man of forty-five.”
We can infer that Mr. Peters’ incorrect perception of himself made him do things that were not appropriate or suitable for his age.
From the options, the best word is ‘fitting.’
Paleontologists are using modern technology to gain a greater understanding of the distant past. With the aid of computed tomography (CT) scanning and 3-D printing, researchers are able to create accurate models of prehistoric fossils. These models have expanded researchers’ knowledge of ancient species and 7 swear to advance the field of paleontology in the years to come.
6. At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence.
Fossils provide paleontologists with a convenient way of estimating the age of the rock in which the fossils are found.
Should the writer make this addition here?
A. Yes, because it supports the paragraph’s argument with an important detail.
B. Yes, because it provides a logical transition from the preceding sentence.
C. No, because it is not directly related to the main point of the paragraph.
D. No, because it undermines the main claim of the paragraph.
When solving such questions about whether a new sentence must be inserted in a particular context, it is important to read the context carefully. Only when you read the sentences before and after will you understand whether there is a need for a new sentence to be inserted. A 2-step approach is needed to solve such questions. The first step is checking whether a new sentence is needed. This will help you eliminate two of the four options. In the next step, you must look out for the reason mentioned for whether the sentence must be added.
The earlier sentence states that researchers are able to create accurate models of prehistoric fossils with techniques such as CT scanning and 3-D printing. The next sentence states how ‘these models’ have expanded the knowledge of researchers.
Now, the pronoun ‘these’ refers to the accurate models of prehistoric fossils that have been mentioned in the previous line. So, there is a logical continuity and a smooth transition between the two sentences and a new sentence must not be added in between. This helps us eliminate options A and B.
To eliminate between C and D, you must read the reason given. D is incorrect because the sentence does not undermine any claim made in the passage; rather, it is just unrelated to the information provided.
Hence, the correct answer is option C.
7. Which word is the best fit in the given context?
A. NO CHANGE
To solve questions based on contextual vocabulary, the best strategy is to think of a word of your own to fit the context. But this must be done without looking at the answer options. This is important because, often, looking at options tends to prejudice and confuse us, rather than sort things out for us. It is only at the end that you must look at the answer options to pick a similar word.
Here, the passage says that in future, these models would advance the field of paleontology. The word then must be one that demonstrates a hope for good things to come in future.
Of the given options, promise seems best. The correct answer is option D.
8. It was during this time that I read an article 8 into coworking spaces.
A. NO CHANGE
This is a question that tests us on prepositions. For prepositions, unfortunately, there is no rule the more familiar you are with the language, the easier it will be.
Options A, C, and D are incorrect as the prepositions are not in accordance with grammar. The best option is ‘about.’ The correct answer is option B.
9. In broad terms, philosophy is the study of meaning and the values underlying thought and behavior. But more pragmatically, the discipline encourages students to analyze complex material, question conventional beliefs, and express thoughts in a concise manner.
A. NO CHANGE
B. speaking in a more pragmatic way,
C. speaking in a way more pragmatically,
D. in a more pragmatic-speaking way,
This is a question that typically tests you on syntax and concise English writing. In such questions, you are expected to pick the option that best conveys the intended meaning in the most succinct manner.
In this question, options B, C, and D are redundant because they use ‘speaking,’ which is not necessary and makes the answer option wordy. Option A conveys the intended meaning, giving a concise and apt comparison between the basic definition of philosophy, and the skills it helps students build.
The correct answer is option A.
10. Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall group, which controlled New York 10 City in the 1860s—stole more than $30 million, the equivalent of more than $365 million today.
A. NO CHANGE
B. City in the 1860s,
C. City, in the 1860s,
D. City in the 1860s
This question is a test of punctuation marks. The phrase ‘which controlled New York City in the 1860s’ is describing the Tammany Hall group and is a non-essential one. Such non-essential phrases must typically be either between two commas or two hyphens.
Remember that such phrases cannot be between a comma and a hyphen.
Hence, the best choice is option B.
How many of these 10 questions did you answer correctly? Even if you answered questions correctly, were you using the right strategy? Or were the answers mere guesses?
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All the best for the SAT!
Note: All the questions have been picked up from the SAT Mock Tests on collegereadiness.collegeboard.com