Many of my students jump at the first SAT Critical Reading answer they see that looks remotely like a right answer. Or even something that vaguely resembles a right answer.
But the SAT saw you coming. They are looking for the absolute best answer based on a close reading (and a thorough understanding) of the passage.
Here’s an example.
This is pulled from Test 5 in the Blue Book. The passage talks about how the author would love to time travel – not actual time travel since that doesn’t work according to the laws of physics. But a sort-of-time-travel. He tells the story of finding his great-grandfather’s pipe (his great-grandfather had died before he was born), and how, upon lighting it while reading a book, he traveled back in time to all those places Papa Joe had been. Here’s a portion of the passage:
All the different occassions when Papa Joe had lit his pipe, all the different places he had been that I will never know – all had been locked up in that pipe and now poured out into the room. I was vaguely aware that something had got delightfully twisted in time for a moment, skipped upward on the page. There is a kind of time travel to be had, if you don’t insist on how it happens.
The author mentions that “something…skipped upward on the page” (lines 60-61) to suggest that
- A) he reread a portion of the page
- B) his vision was affected by the smoke
- C) he traveled back in time in his imagination
- D) his reading reminded him of Papa Joe
- E) he believes that reading is the best way to recreate the past
A is half-right. He was reading a book at the time. But the quote is referring to the thing that got ‘twisted up in time’ – ‘all those places he had been…now poured into the room” – not the pages of the book he was reading
B is half-right. He was affected by the smoke. But it wasn’t his vision that was affected.
C is all the way right. He did travel back in time to ‘all those places [Papa Joe] had been.’ And it was in his imagination, not real time travel.
D is half right. He was reminded of Papa Joe. But it wasn’t because of the reading – it was because of lighting the pipe.
E is half right. He was reading and did sort of recreate the past – but it was with Papa Joe’s pipe, not the book
Right answers are all-the-way right (like pink ponies), not just half-right.
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