Mmmmmm…everybody loves cupcakes! How will you ever choose between them? Each one looks better than the last!
Students often take on the critical reading section like they are entering a sweet shop.
“Mmm..elitist looks good. Oh look – they have monarchical and irreproachable as well. How will I ever choose?”
They linger over the answer choices comparing them against one another as if comparing chocolate kisses to vanilla eclairs and trying to figure out which one they feel like today.
Of course, SAT answer choices have more subtle distinctions than the distinction between chocolate kisses and vanilla eclairs. Any one answer choice doesn’t stand out compared to the others. They are more like this:
A. Vanilla cupcake with sprinkles
B. Vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting
C. Chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting
D. Chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting
And the question isn’t: which one looks good to you? Because they all look good. Everybody loves cupcakes!
The question is: what does the passage say? The answer is in the passage – not the answer choices! (Really, the answer choices are practically irrelevant.)
Know the cupcake you are looking for
So what’s the secret? Know the cupcake that you are looking for.
How will you know which cupcake you are looking for? Read the passage. I promise it will indicate whether you should be looking for chocolate or vanilla cupcakes. Once you sort out the basic flavor (and cross out the wrong answers) go back and re-read the passage to figure out if you are looking for sprinkles or frosting.
I consistently score 800 on the Critical Reading section. (Yes, on actual SAT tests. Yes, I actually take the SAT test every year.) One of the main reasons I get a perfect score is that I always know what I’m looking for before I ever glance at the answer choices. (Because I read and re-read and re-read and re-read and re-read the passage until I’ve figured out the answer to the question.) So no way can the SAT pull any Jedi mind tricks on me and confuse me.
So the question isn’t what kind of cupcake looks best to you today. (Remember, the SAT doesn’t care what you think or feel.) The question is what kind of cupcake is described in the passage? That’s the cupcake you are looking for!
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