SAT Verbal Strategy Session

SAT Verbal Tutor’s – Reading Strategy


Reading comprehension questions measure your ability to understand , analyze, and apply information and concepts presented in written form.

Skills tested by SAT  Reading test Questions :

Reading for Detail Finding details in the passage, citing textual evidence.

Summarizing Determining central ideas and themes , understanding how a passage is structured, understanding relationships.

Drawing Inferences Understanding relationships , drawing conclusions from facts stated in a passage . interpreting words and phrases in context.

Rhetorical Analysis – Analyzing word choice, analysing point of view, determining why a fact is included, analysing arguments .

Synthesis – Analyzing multiple texts , analysing quantitative information.


The R I E approach for Reading Comprehension Questions. 


Step  1 : R – Read + Comprehend the passage and Annotate.

  •  To comprehend a SAT passage effectively , create a PASSAGE MAP while reading the passage.It is mandatory to read the pre-passage blurb before reading the actual passage.
  • LABEL each paragraph in terms of its relation to the topic. Highlight  key details( Names, Dates, structural clues etc.) while reading the paragraphs. 

Step  2 : I – Identify the question type and apply the question specific strategy.

  Unpack the question stems :

  1. Global Questions – These questions ask about the passage’s main idea, author’s primary purpose, or the passage’s overall organization. They ask you about the big picture.
  2. Detail – These questions ask about something explicitly stated in the passage.
  3. Inference – These questions ask for something that follows from the passage without having been stated explicitly in it.The points that are unstated but strongly suggested.
  4. Command of Evidence : These questions ask you to cite the support offered in the passage for the correct answer to the previous question or for a given statement.
  5. FUNCTION : These are about the purpose of a piece of text – why the author included it or how the author has used it.
  6. Vocabulary-in- Context : asks you to define a word as the author used it in the passage.

Step 3 :  E – Eliminate the wrong answers 

  • B -Beyond the Scope 
  • A– Au Contraire ( On the contrary – 180 )
  • D-Distortion ( Unclear )
  • H-half correct vs Half Incorrect
  • I– Irrelevant 
  • T– Too specific / broad / narrow / extreme 
  • F-Faulty usage of Language

Note : Finally the right answer choice must be  undisputed and unambiguous. All the words used in the answer choice must match the tone of the author and the passage.

Identifying the question stems :

Global question stems :

  • The central claim of the passage is that
  • Which choice best summarizes the passage ?
  • The main purpose of the passage is to
  • Which choice best describes the developmental pattern of the passage?
  • Which choice best reflects the overall sequence of events in the passage ?


SAT Verbal Tutors  Global Questions Approach :

They ask for the big picture of the passage, so always start by reviewing your big picture summary. Avoid reading passage text when tackling these questions. Usually the first and last paragraphs are the best places to look. Refer to the passage map especially for structural trends  where the author changes his direction or perspective.

Detail :

  • According to the passage , which of the following is true of developmental psychology ?
  • The author indicates that people value solitude because
  • In the second paragraph , which of the following as a factor that influences economic growth ?
  • The passage identifies which of the following as a factor that ……?


Search for the relevant information or a precise clue if any. Your task will usually be to extract the stem’s specific content clues and then use your passage map to help you locate that content in the text. 

Inference :

  • Based on the passage, the author’s statement “ in response………” implies that
  • Which concept is supported by the passage and by the information in the graph ?
  • Based on information in the passage , it can reasonably be inferred that 
  • The author of both passages would most likely agree with which of the following statements ?




These questions come in a wider variety of forms than the other questions types, but all are united by asking you to identify something that the author only suggests without saying outright.

Follow the clues to locate the relevant text, and then ask yourself ,  ‘what must follow from this?’ 

Note : Eliminate the options that are directly stated or paraphrased. An inference is never directly stated.

Command of Evidence :

  • Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
  • Which choice best supports the claim that the ……?

Evidence Question Approach :

The line numbers listed in Command of Evidence answer choices give you four potential locations to look for the correct answer, but preempt this extensive searching by looking first at the lines of text you used to answer the previous question( usually an inference or detail). 

Function :

  • The sentence in line 15-18 serves mainly to…
  • The main purpose of the fourth paragraph is to …
  • How do the words ‘must’ ,’necessary,’ and ‘imperative’ in the third paragraph ( lines 35-45 ) help establish the tone of the paragraph ?
  • The author uses the image of an explorer overlooking a valley ( lines 23-28) most likely to…
  • The sentence in lines 74-78 ( after …rest ) primarily serves which function in paragraph 5 ? 

Function Question Approach :

Most function questions are why questions, asking you to explain what the author intended to accomplish with a particular piece of text, usually singled out with precise clues. Ask yourself , “ Why did the author include this? “

Vocabulary-in-context –

  • As used in lines 55, ‘ placid’ most nearly means 
  • As used in line 22. ‘ lucid’ most nearly means 

SAT Verbal Tutors Vocab Questions Approach :


Go to the line cited in the question stem and reread the entire sentence that contains the word. Look for additional help in the surrounding sentences until you have a clear idea of what the author intended.


  • Line Numbers : Mentions of line numbers often in parenthesis , tend to stand out and give you a clear place to start your research.( In command of Evidence questions, line numbers are found in answer choices )
  • Paragraph Numbers : A reference to paragraph is not as precise as a line reference but will still give you an idea of where to look. Start with your margin notes for the paragraph.
  • Quotes Text : Check the context of the quoted term or phrase to see what the author meant by it in the passage.
  • Proper Nouns : Names will likely stand out in question stems due to capitalization. If a particular proper noun is discussed in only part of the passage, it narrows the range of text you have to research.
  • Specific Context/Content clues :Sometimes a question will repeat terminology used in part of the passage. Use your passage map to direct your research to the right part of the passage.

Whole Passage clues : If question lacks specific content clues but refers to the passage as a whole, or to the author in general , you are likely dealing with a global question or an open ended inference question, which should lead you to your big picture summary rather than a rereading parts of the text.

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