The Passage - Part I

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Learn More About Magoosh SAT
In the previous lesson we went through this passage, and we applied the concept of active reading. So now that we've actively read the passage, I just reproduced a little bit of the excerpt right here. And so what you can do if you didn't actually watch that video or watched it a while ago, you can pause right now.

Okay, I assumed you've paused, and you can pause again. I assume you've paused, and there you have a little bit of what you need to understand at least the first couple of questions. So let's look at that first question. According to the passage, why is Erskine originally motivated to show the narrator the portrait of W.H.?

Again, we have our context here. They are hanging out at this guy's house on Birdcage Walk. Apparently that's a real place. And they're discussing the topic of forgeries. The narrator is sharing his opinion here. And then Erskine, his little buddy, says, what would you say about a young man who had a strange theory and actually committed forgery to prove this theory?

And then, of course, the narrator says, ha, I wasn't expecting you to say that. And then, Erskine says, yes, this is quite different. Let me tell you about Cyril Graham, and what he left me here. This little picture. And so, you can say, there's, he's setting this up. This idea of a conversation about forgeries, and then someone he knew actually committed a forgery and gave him the picture in this frame.

Therefore, why did Erskine originally show the narrator this portrait? To discuss this point about forgeries. What if someone makes a forgery to prove a theory, is that a good thing then? So that works with answer A. So again, we need to go back to the passage after reading the entire thing, find the relevant part, talk our way through what the paragraph is about at a high level, and then find that specific answer.

Now what about B, to share a long-held secret? Now, why isn't this the answer? In fact, you actually want to pause this if you haven't already. It's always a good idea to pause these questions in fact and try to answer them on your own. But we already have the answer as A, but why not B?

Well, it says here, originally motivated. He might be sharing this long-held secret later on in the passage, but even that's a little bit questionable. But originally, what's the point to make a point about forgeries? He asked the author of the passage that question and then shows him the picture. He definitely doesn't want to sell the painting, and he doesn't want to discuss something, and there's beauty in the passage, and beauty and art and all that stuff.

But he's not trying to say hey, I'm gonna talk to you about the nature of beauty. No, it's let's talk more about forgeries, and let me show you a specific one. Okay, next question, and again this was kind of a not necessarily a main idea or big idea, but relatively specific, but you had to find the right part of the passage. What we have now in question number 2 is a very specific type of question, and this is called a vocabulary and context question.

It's always set off by two quotation marks, just like that. Therefore, we know what we have to do is the following. Go back to the passage think, huh, what would can I come up with for curious? In fact, totally ignore the word curious, because what the test writers have done is they've said hmm, when high school kids think of the word curious, what do they think of?

Well, they may think weird or eccentric, stuff that's almost always not what the actual word means. So come up with our own word here. And let's read. I had been dining with Erskine in his pretty little house in Birdcage Walk, when we struck upon the somewhat blank topic of forgeries.

And I started sharing all my wonderful opinions on this interesting topic, on this curious topic. Invasive is like weeds that grow everywhere, no, that doesn't quite make sense. But interesting does match up pretty well. Now, another trick they can throw at you is to kind of loosely describe what's going on maybe later on in the passage.

And, you might even think, oh well forgeries are kind of controversial. And, that maybe he's stating this controversial opinion. I see the word quarrel here, oh no controversy. But that's not actually how the word is used here. And secondly, ultimately, whatever this word is, it has to have an actual dictionary definition.

Nowhere will you find curious, definition number 7, arousing controversy that just doesn't exist. That does however, probably second or third definition, mean interesting, so again, what we did, we went back there, we ignored the word, tried to come up with our own word based on the context, we got rid of words that were too similar to what we think of as the word.

And we were careful not to pick answers that didn't really describe that specific word, or didn't really fit where that specific word was, but just kind of talked about stuff in general around the paragraph, so don't pick that one. Okay, so that was vocabulary in context. Now we have another type of question. But I'm actually not gonna tell you this question type, and actually I'm not gonna have you pause it either and try to do this question.

I'm gonna walk us through this, because I'm gonna make a point here and I think it's important not to try to answer this the old fashioned way. What would the old fashioned way be? Well, you'd read the question, what does the narrator initially think of alternative theories regarding possible dedicatees of Shakespeare's sonnets? Well, the old fashioned way is to go back to the passage and figure out, okay, where is this.

There's no line reference, they're not telling me where in the passage it is. But I can see Shakespeare's sonnets, so I'm gonna look for Shakespeare's sonnets. And so, I go down here, I scan, scan, scan. I see Shakespeare, I keep reading, I'm looking for sonnets. Oh, I see sonnets. I am sure of it, there is no doubt at all about it.

I think that's a pretty good place for it. Yeah, I found it. Took a little bit, but there's the answer. So which one is it? Hm, that takes a little bit of time. And then maybe you're not even sure and then you go back to the passage and then you realize maybe I should read on more, maybe they talk about sonnets again, and they do.

And then you maybe get the answer here cuz it says the matter has ceased to be a mystery to anyone, if it ever was a mystery, but you might also get the question wrong. The point is, you've taken a lot of time. And I'll go back really quickly. You've taken a lot of time here to try to get the answer to number 3 by going back to the passage just trying to figure out where the answer in the first place is.

Because mentions of the sonnets is kinda spread throughout that area, you might pick an answer choice that is incorrect. Gosh, this test is hard. But no, it is actually not that difficult. Why? Well, there's something called evidence-based questions, and what they do is they have a pair of questions.

They're always back to back. If number 3 is this question, evidence based reading. Number 4 is gonna tell us which line could it possibly be found in? So we pair it together, and what we do is we actually do number 4 first. Once we've read number 3 and we know what the question is asking for, you go through each of the line references.

Okay, well, this is the line beginning with I see ...out, replied, so, I go back to the passages, they give me the specific line. And what I've done here is reproduced each one of these answer choices. Now, it makes a lot more sense when you actually go and read question 3. What does the narrator initially think of alternative theories regarding possible dedicatees of Shakespeare sonnets?

A, I see there is some writing there, but I cannot make it out, I replied. Hm, that doesn't quite give us enough information, and of course you can always go back to the passage and read the context around there. You can look at B, I am sure of it. B is, people are the personages of the Sonnets; there is no doubt at all about it.

So you can see that he probably isn't necessarily open to alternative theories of Shakespeare's sonnets. Does it point to A, he believes that they are more consistent with the known facts? No, it would probably be the opposite. But let's not just stop there because we found something we like. Let's keep on reading the other options.

Again, other options being down here. Well, I agree with you, but I did not always think, oh, don't try to trick me SAT. We care about the narrator. Narrator think of the alternative theories, not Erskine. So we can get rid of C.

That was a tricky one. D, the matter has ceased to be a mystery to any one, if it ever was a mystery. But that's not even a mystery any more. And again, if you're unsure we can jump back here. And you have the lines. You know exactly where to look for this.

It say, I love theories about the Sonnets, I cried. But I don't think I am likely to be converted to any new idea. The matter has ceased to be a mystery to any one, if it ever was a mystery. So no new ideas are gonna convert him. It's not even a mystery, the answer is clear. And therefore, we know, going back to the screen, that B is definitely the answer, he dismisses them as irrelevant since the existing theories are perfect, they're in no way lacking.

And we find that aha, D does the best job, A definitely not. B just shows that he's certain about this theory, but doesn't really talk to the part here that dismisses them the way that D does. Now, that was a really hard question. I don't even think evidence based reading questions are all that difficult as the one I just showed you here.

The reason I made this one difficult is to show you how important this strategy is, how much of a time saver it is, and how much it helps you avoid picking answer choice B which is a pretty good, it's not a terrible answer, but it's not the best answer. And D actually is that much better answer. Once you look at question 4 first, see that lines, what they're actually saying, and then answer question 3, it makes a very difficult question not so difficult.

Okay, speaking of pairs we're not done here just now. This was the first part. This will be our last question to the first part of this reading passage. But things do come in pairs. They use vocabulary context questions for almost every passage, not every one, but almost every passage.

You will always get two of these, and I like these ones, and you should like them too, because once you get good at them, they're a great way to save time, because they don't take very long to do. So if you're running out of time on the last passage or two you can do the vocab and context questions first. Make sure you at least get those.

So here we have it, another one. This one's maybe a little bit trickier. In manner and especially the rendering of the hands, the picture reminded one of various works of great artists. So the way that the artist painted, the manner, and especially the way he painted, the rendering, the way he painted the hands.

Notice I'm coming up with my own word or words to help me understand the context of the way he painted. Discussion is not the way one painted. He didn't eliminate the poor hands. Reduction, the way he painted. Reduction.

Is he reducing the hands? Does this person have very small hands? That seems weird. But the way in doing something, the treatment. That makes sense, and therefore C is our answer. So what I'm gonna do in the next part is, I'm gonna show you the other question types that will show up on the reading comprehension section, not just the fiction passage.

What the new SAT is doing is they're making it very constant, the type of questions you'll see. You'll see the evidence-based reading questions. They always come in a little duo as we saw, and you will always see a pair of them meaning two plus two is four total questions. As I said, the vocab and context as we have here, you'll also get a couple of these.

So that's six questions right there. And once you get a sense of the other four questions, you'll be able to better navigate through the passage and find the questions that are easiest to answer for you.

Show Transcript

Next Lesson


Strategies and Fundamentals