Tips from an SAT Verbal Tutor: Two Approaches

Posted by Michelle Chiu on 3/20/13, 10:36 AM

SAT
When it comes to college admissions, the SAT is “the Big Exam.” And when it comes to this exam, it is the SAT Verbal section that often makes students most anxious. There are two approaches that can be helpful to think through as you go about picking the correct choice. Our PSAT tutor and SAT tutors are great at teaching our students to think about the questions in the way that works best for them. For some students, the Big Picture method works well, and for others, the Process of Elimination works best. Using a combination of the two throughout the exam can help to boost your score significantly.

Thinking About The Big Picture:

The “Big Picture” approach is exactly what it sounds like. As you read the passage, begin to form a picture in your head of the author’s main points and the structure of the author’s argument. From this picture, you can infer the answer.

For example, this might be your thought process for a question that asks what 2 passages about the Mona Lisa contain:

What does the first paragraph of each essay talk about? The Mona Lisa. What, in particular, about the Mona Lisa? The exceeding popularity of the painting. Passage one paints a dramatic picture of the lines and crowds interested in seeing the painting, and passage 2 asks specifically, “Why is the Mona Lisa the best-known painting in the world?” 
Answer choice C most correctly aligns with these.

Using Process of Elimination:

Learning to use the Process of Elimination method is an excellent step in your standardized test preparation. If any or all parts of an answer are incorrect, you can immediately eliminate that answer and then move on to the next answer choice.

For example, using this approaching to answer the same question posed above might look like this:
A. Passage 1 fleetingly mentions the Mona Lisa’s smile, but Passage 2 makes no mention of it. Elminate.
B. Only Passage 1 touches on the identity of the Mona Lisa. Eliminate.
C. Both passages discuss extensively the popularity of the Mona Lisa. Passage 1 begins with a dramatic picture of the lines and crowds interested in seeing the painting, and passage 2 asks specifically, “Why is the Mona Lisa the best-known painting in the world?”
D. Passage 1 talks about Leonardo’s novel painting techniques, but not about the influence of the painting on other artists. Passage 2 touches on the opinions of art historians, but these opinions are about the qualities the painting posses, not the painting’s influence over other artists. Eliminate.
E. Neither passage

makes mention of the Mona Lisa’s deteriorating condition. Eliminate.
You are left with choice C.


Stay tuned for more examples of these approaches or talk with an SAT tutor today get a jumpstart on your test preparation.

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Tags: SAT