Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 3

1. Critical Reading!

1.1 Main idea.!

The biggest thing you can do to improve your SAT Critical Reading score is to focus on the main idea
of the passage.!

If youre having trouble with the critical reading passages, youre probably getting stuck on the details
and missing the main idea of the passage.!

Most of whats confusing you is details, but not all of the details will be referred to in the questions.!

If they dont ask you about them, you dont have to know them. Thats why its important that you dont
get caught up in the details as you read.!

Which details do you have to know? The SAT will tell you. Any question that asks about specific details
from the passage will refer you back to specific lines. When that happens, you do need to go back and
re-read lines, and usually a little bit before and after as well.!

While you dont need to know all the details, you must know the main idea, which for our purposes
includes the authors opinion on the topic if his opinion is clear.!

Most of the questions, even if theyre about specific details, relate back to the main idea in some way.
Thats why once you know the main idea, almost all of the questions get a lot easier.!

In the Critical Reading section of the SAT, unlike in the Math section, youre not looking for an exactly
right answer. You have to look for the best possible answer among the choices they give you.!

Sometimes youll be doing a question and think to yourself, none of these answers seem right to me. I
know. Sometimes none of them seem right to me, either.!

Sometimes none of the answers will be the same as how you would answer if you could write anything
you want. Thats OK. One of the answers will still be better than all the rest.!

All of the wrong answers have something about them that make them wrong. Use the process of
elimination to eliminate the answers that are clearly wrong, then pick the best remaining answer.!

The good news is that in almost every question, 3 of the answers will obviously be wrong, and youll
be able to cross them out right away.!

In fact, when using the process of elimination, after youre done crossing off the answers that are
obviously wrong, if youre not sure which of the remaining answers is the best choice, pick the one that
most closely reflects the main idea of the passage.!


The following passage is adapted from a book about television and popular culture.

Ridiculing television, and warning about its inherent evils, is nothing new. It has been that way
since the medium was invented, and television hasnt exactlybeen lavished with respect as the
decades have passed. 5 I suspect, though, that a lot of the fear and loathing directed at television
comes out of a time-honored, reflexive overreaction to the dominant medium of the moment.
For the past several decades, television has been blamed for corrupting our youth and exciting
10 our adults, distorting reality, and basically being a big, perhaps dangerous, waste of time.
Before TV, radio and film were accused of the same things. And long before thatin fact, some
2,500 years earlier philosophers were arguing that poetry and drama 15 should be excluded
from any ideal city on much the same grounds. In Book 10 of the Republic, Plato (428-348
B.C.) attacks epic poet Homer (c. 850 B.C.) and the trage- dians on several grounds, all of which
have a familiar 20 ring. Their productions are appearances and not realities, he gripes.
Drawing, and in fact all imitation . . . [is] quite removed from the truth. The audience, as well
as the art form, troubled Plato, whose remarks are colored by an implied disdain for the
popularity of public performances. 25 The common people, as Plato so charitably calls them,
are drawn to peevish and diverse characters such as Odysseus and other heroes in the Iliad
and the Odyssey who (to Plato, anyway) engage in such questionable displays of emotion as
spinning out a long melancholy 30 lamentation or disfiguring themselves in grief. To Plato,
baring such intimate sorrows is not to be condoned. (Clearly, he would have given thumbs
down to the central characters of Shakespeares Hamlet and Macbeth.) If you receive the
pleasure-seasoned Muse1 of song and epic, 35 Plato warns, pleasure and pain will be kings in
your city, instead of law. Finally, Plato sums up his anti-arts argu- ment with the cold,
sweeping pronouncement that poetry is not to be taken seriously. One academic who has
studied and written extensively 40 about both Plato and television suggests that Plato, rather
than being anti-arts, was merely an elitist. Plato wanted to ban poetry readings and live theater,
the argument goes, because, being free and accessible and raucous and extremely popular, they
were the mass entertainment 45 of that era. If, instead of tragedy and poetry, and Homer
and Aeschylus,2 you read mass entertainment or popular media, youll recognize Platos
arguments as the ancestor of all the reasons we have today for being suspicious of television.
50 To wit: poetry, by which Plato means drama, confuses us between appearance and reality.
The action it presents is too extreme and violent. Most important, its a corrupt- ing influence,
perverting its audience by bombarding it with inferior characters and vulgar subjectsand con55 stituting, in Platos own words, a harm to the mind of its audience. If Platos Republic had
become reality, it would have been a republic with a lot of empty libraries, theaters, and
museumsif, indeed, those repositories of the arts would 60 have survived at all. Platos
personal utopia never came to passbut throughout the centuries, wherever and when- ever a
new medium of artistic expression attracted a lot
of people, someone has been ready, waiting, and eager to attack its content and fear its impact.

Lets see how this works for the second long critical reading passage in Section 7 of the Official SAT
Practice Test for 2009 2010. The main idea of that passage, and the authors opinion, can be simply
stated as:!

The idea that TV is evil and dangerous is not new. In fact, going all the way back to Plato, the primary
means of artistic expression have always been attacked like TV is today. I think that people who do
that are wrong.!

If you thought the main idea was anything along those lines, you probably did pretty well. Heres how
knowing the main idea applies to the questions.!

Question 16: If you know that the passage is about criticizing TV, you know that B, D, and E are
wrong. If you know that the author himself is not criticizing TV, you know that A is wrong, and the
answer is C.!

Question 17: The lines they refer to say, television has been blamed for corrupting our youth, and is
a, big, perhaps dangerous, waste of time. Notice that this detail is just an expression of the main idea
of the passage. This question is easy. The least bad television show is D, which is the correct answer.!

Question 18: This type of question is asking you about what a word means in the context of the
passage. The main idea wont help you on a question like this. Just plug the answer choices into the
sentence in place of the word drawn and youll see that the correct answer is D.!

Question 19: Plato thought those stories, and their heroes, were bad, in the same way some people
today think that TV is bad, so you know that A and B are wrong. Since Plato felt very strongly about
that, the answer is E.!

Question 20: If you realize that the academic mentioned in this question disagrees with Plato (and
agrees with the author), you know that A, B, and D are wrong. If you noticed that he called Plato an
elitist, you know the correct answer is E.!

Question 21: This question is about the same lines you read for the previous question. The author is
building up his argument that Plato was wrong, so the answer is A.!

Question 22: Remembering the main idea, the correct answer is D.!

Question 23: The author disagrees with Plato, so A, C, and D are wrong. Plato was a Greek
philosopher, so E is wrong. The correct answer is B.!

Question 24: Again, remembering the main idea, the correct answer has to be E.