About SAT Reading Test
By Chukwuemerie Anyene
SAT is the abbreviation for Scholastic Aptitude Test, a test taken by high school students as a requirement for admission into tertiary institutions in the United States, US. In Nigeria, some schools also hold SAT classes for such students. In Britain, SAT stands for Standard Aptitude Task (now NCT = National Curriculum Test).
Reading is an excellent way to become familiar with SAT. Its contents, structure, timing and practice tests prepare students as skilled thinkers that can solve problems, communicate clearly, and understand complex relationships in their course of study. SAT reading text is designed to assess how ready students are to read and interpret the kind of text they are likely to encounter in college and career.
The passages (reading selection) on the reading test vary in genre, purpose, subject and complexity in order to assess students’ comprehension skills in a diverse range of texts similar to those they will come across in many different postsecondary courses. It tests their ability to read and understand topics on literature, history, physics, or accounting. Reading Test passages will include a pair of related passages, with some questions demanding identification of linkages and connections between the two selections.
Some passages will include one or more informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts, and students will be expected to both understand those graphics and to link the information contained in them with information in the passage. The questions are to be answered based on stated and implied meaning in the texts; information and ideas in the passages; structure, purpose, and other aspects of the craft in writing; and drawing connections between pairs of related passages and analysing informational graphics
Some features of reading test passages
Genre: The Reading Test includes both literary (fiction selection) and informational passages (and selection from a historically or culturally important document, such a speech, essay, or letter).
Purpose: The Reading Test passages are mainly focused on telling a story, recounting an event or experience; presenting information and idea; or convincing readers through the use of evidence, reasoning, and or stylistic and persuasive techniques (to believe something or to take some sort of action).
Subject: The Reading Test includes in US and world literature (classic and recent work of fiction); history/social studies (economics, sociology, and political science); and science (Earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics).
Complexity: Some passages are straightforward, may have a clear purpose, present a fairly amount of information, and use familiar words. However, other passages, have literal and metaphorical meaning, require the readers to follow a complicated series of events, and make use of a long and involved sentences.
Paired passages: The two passages may simply contain different information on the same topic. The set of associated questions will ask about each passage separately as well as about both passages together.
Informational graphics: Some passages include one or more tables, graphs, charts, and the like that correspond to the topic of the passage. Questions may ask you to locate information in the graphic, draw reasonable conclusions about the graphic’s data, or make connections between the graphic and the passage.
Reading test questions
The questions follow something of a natural order like considering what is stated and implied in the passage or passage pair about the main idea or point of view. The nature of the test questions includes:
1. Question about specific parts of the passage.
2. The questions are designed to determine whether you’re reading closely and making reasonable interpretations.
3. Literature question may ask you to think about plot or character; science question may ask about things such as hypotheses and experimental data.
All of the information you’ll need to answer the questions can be found in the passages themselves (or in the supplementary material, such as a graphic).
Categories of reading test questions
Information and Ideas: The be basis of these questions includes locating stated information, making reasonable inferences, applying what you’ve read to similar situation; figuring out the best evidence in the back passage, determining central ideas and themes, summarizing important information, understanding relationship (including cause-and-effect, comparison-contrast, and sequence; and determining the meaning of words and phrases as used in particular contexts.
Rhetoric: These questions, with emphasis on craft, rquires you to state how an author’s word choice shapes meaning, tone and style; consider how a passage is structured and what roles its various parts play; state the author’s point of view and purpose; claims, reasons, evidence, and stylistic and persuasive elements (such as appeals to fear or emotion) found in arguments.
Synthesis: Some synthesis question may ask you how two passages are similar or different in content, form, style, or perspective. Other synthesis questions may have to find a particular piece of data, figure out which conclusion is the most reasonable given a certain set of results from a study, or integrate information from a table with information and ideas found in the passage itself.
Reading: information and ideas
1. Reading closely:
If the question uses “according to the passage,” “states,” “indicates,” or something similar, you should look for something said explicitly in the text. On the other hand, if the question uses “based on the passage,” “it can be reasonably be inferred,” “implies,” or the like, you’ll need to interpret the passage to figure out an implicit message.
2. Citing textual evidence
The speech delivered by congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas on July 25, 1974, as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, reads in part:
“The North Carolina ratification convention:
“No one needs be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity.
“Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65.
“We divide into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. I do not mean political parties in that sense.
“The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term ‘high crime[s] and misdemeanours.’ Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that “Nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overthrow a party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can.”
What is the most likely reason Jordan draws a distinction between two types of “parties?” This question isn’t our main interest here, but we need to consider it briefly in order to make sense of the second question. To counter the suggestion that impeachment is or should be about partisan politics. The most likely reason Jordan goes to this trouble is because she’s worried about being misinterpreted. But how do we know it is the best answer? That’s where textual evidence comes in, and it’s the basis for the question in the pair.
“It’s wrong, I suggest, it’s a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office.
“The division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge – the framers of this Constitution were very astute.
“The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term “high crime[s] and misdemeanors.”
“Congress has a lot to do: appropriation, tax reform, health insurance, campaign finance reform, housing, environmental protection, energy sufficiency, and mass transportation,” she said.
The third quotation serves as the best of option in terms of textual evidence.
3. Determining Central Ideas and Themes:
Main ideas and themes involve two overarching statement that succinctly encapsulates the key point the author is trying to make. While “theme” questions tend to be only about a passage as a whole, “main idea” questions can be about one or more paragraphs or entire passage.
You may be asked to choose which of the four options offer the best summary, or perhaps recognise where a proposed summary (most important ideas) fall short.
5. Understanding relationships:
It involves understanding how one thing caused another to happen, are similar and/or different, and the order in which things happened.
6. Interpretating words and phrases in context:
This requires you to determine the precise meaning of a particular word or phrase as it’s used in a passage.