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# SAT Passage Questions - Avoiding Wrong Answer Choices

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In this episode we're going to talk about how to avoid wrong answer choices when reading the passages in the critical reading section. There are five main principals you should keep in mind, those are to rephrase the question and predict the answers, answer the questions being asked of you, find evidence in the passage, remember that extreme answers are suspicious and lastly keep in mind that a little wrong is all wrong when it comes to SAT answer choices.

The next strategy I want to talk about is answering the question. Believe it or not, "true" doesn't make an answer choice right and here a really silly but one that I hope hits home with you. If you saw a question on the SAT and you won't, that says who is the first president of the United States? One kind of answer you might get is two plus two equals four. Now you're not actually going to get the answer to a math problem on the SAT passages but the idea here is that two plus two equals four is true and you need to remember that doesn't mean it's the right answer. Obviously it's going to be more tricky on the SAT but don't go for an answer choice just because it's true. True is not the same as the right answer. Even if it's sort of on topic. For instance this guy says, "The first president of the United States took office in 1789." It's a little closer to being related to the question but it's still not answering the question. This is also true but it's not right, 'cause it's not answering the question.

Now obviously on the SAT it's going to be a little more complicated than that and it's not going to look like Math and they aren't going to be history questions but it will look a little more like this. You might have a question that says, "hey, what's the purpose of the passage you just read?" And an answer choice might be not telling you what the purpose is but just parroting back information that you covered in the passage and because it's familiar and because it's true, you might be drawn to it but that doesn't make it the right answer, being true is not the same as being right. Here is another situation you might find. You might get a question like, "How would the author most likely respond to his opponent's theory?" Now you want to look for an answer choice that would say, what the author would respond, like what would he say about his opponent's theory, what would he attack in his opponent's theory? But instead you might see an answer choice like this and fall for it if you're not careful. A summary of the opposing theory and the summary would be true and it would be covered in the passage and it would be familiar and so those were all really appealing aspects of the answer choice but remember just 'cause an answer choice is true, doesn't mean that it's right. So, so important.

Another strategy to keep in mind is that you need to find evidence. The vast majority of the time the right answer choice can be backed up by evidence in the passage and the wrong answers choices can't. It's pretty simple but it's a really good rule to stick with. So whenever you see an answer choice that you have no support for in the passage, very simply be suspicious of it. Not too complicated. Another quick rule, you want to avoid extremes. This is not a hard and first rule but it is a good guideline to keep in mind as you're looking through the answer choices. You want to avoid extreme answer choices for a couple of reasons; first of all test makers don't want to offend anybody so they don't want to call some great philosopher a moron or some class of people, total losers and in addition wishy-washy answers, more general answers, tend to be a little easier to defend than extreme ones. So for instances an answer choice that claimed that the protagonist in a passage was a good guy, would be easier to defend than an answer choice that claimed that he was the number one awesomest guy in the history of the universe. So pretty simple.

Now when you avoid extremes you want to be on the lookout for extreme words and there is not a single short list but this will give you an idea what you should be watching out for. You know if you see a word like always, you want to ask yourself, "Really, always, a hundred percent of the time? That's a little bit suspicious." So always could be in the right answer but as soon as you see it, you should consider it a red flag and ask yourself if it really is always and if the answer choice really is right. Similarly with these other words, things like; impossible, everyone; really, those are really strong statements so make sure they're true before you choose them. On the flip side, you should be less suspicious having more drawn to answer choices with moderate words. It's a lot easier to defend an answer choice that has words like, 'usually' or 'may' or 'suggest', so those are much more appealing. This doesn't mean that every answer choice with 'always' is automatically wrong and every answer choice with 'suggest' is automatically right but it's just something good to keep in mind as you're narrowing down your selections.