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Elizabeth Peterson

The New SAT: A New Type of Reading Question

At first glance, the reading section on the newly-redesigned SAT will look familiar to anyone who has spent time studying for the old SAT. The passages are there, and so are the main idea questions, tone questions, and…whoa, what are those?

SAT Command of Evidence Questions

A new style of question has joined the family. Finding supporting evidence for your SAT answers isn’t anything new — after all, you should always have some reason for picking the answers that you do — but now the test is holding you accountable for the choices you make. Here’s an example:

  • Based on the passage, which of the following best describes Maria’s relationship with her brother?

A. contentious
B. amiable
C. distant
D. strained


  • Which of the following provides the best evidence for the previous question?

A. Lines 3-5 (“He…explain.”)
B. Lines 13-19 (“Before…flying.”)
C. Lines 20-22 (“Maria…forbidden.”)
D. Lines 27-28 (“Never…alternative.”)


Let’s look at these SAT Reading questions a little closer

The first question throws some vocabulary at you, but looks pretty standard. See that second question,  though? That’s the new guy. These questions will always ask you the same thing: “Which of the following provides the best evidence for the previous question?” Each answer choice provides you with a specific selection from the passage, identified by line numbers and its first and last words.

Be careful! Those first and last words are there for a reason. When you are looking at the answers, make sure you are only considering the information between those two points. I recommend underlining or putting brackets around each selection to keep your eyes from wandering too far.


How does this affect how we answer SAT questions?

The fact that these evidence questions are paired with analysis questions makes for an interesting dynamic. If you answer the first question correctly, you already have an idea of what evidence you should pick for the second question.

If the first question is difficult, then the second can point you in the right direction. After all, one of those four line selections has to contain the information you need. The downside of these evidence question pairs is, if you completely misinterpret the passage, it is entirely possible to get both of these wrong and lose out on the opportunity for a couple of points. Just another reason to practice, practice, practice!

It’s always a little scary to get used to new question types, but if you take some time to get to know the new additions to the SAT, you’ll be ready to tackle them all come test day. 

Worried about the New SAT Reading Section? Check out our tips on how to crush New SAT Reading!


About Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth holds a degree in Psychology from The College of William & Mary. While there, she volunteered as a tutor and discovered she loved the personal connection she formed with her students. She has now been helping students with test prep and schoolwork as a professional tutor for over six years. When not discussing grammar or reading passages, she can be found trying every drink at her local coffee shop while writing creative short stories and making plans for her next travel adventure!

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