The nuances of the SAT Verbal Structure:


SAT English sections comprise Critical Reading and Critical Writing.

Critical Reading:

Critical reading comprises 3 sections and all of them total to 800 marks This section tests you on your reading and comprehension skills. CR is divided into 3 types of questions :

Literal Reading Comprehension,Dual Passages and Sentence Completion.

Literal reading comprehension is nothing but the long passage that you face in your school exams, wherein you will get an essay and you will be required to answer questions based on the same.  The passages are usually excerpts from various books,articles,journals etc. They can be based on any topic- be it literature,history,politics or science. This diversity of topics, however, does not mean that you need to have a prior knowledge on any of these .

Critical Reading aims at analyzing your comprehension skills as to how well can you understand the given passage, both literally and analytically, and answer questions based on the same within a specific time limit .

There are primarily 3 kinds of questions that you come across while solving a literal reading comprehension :

1) Location Based Questions:  These are questions pertinent to particular lines  .

For example: The narrator’s characterization of archaeologists as “no better than scavengers” ( lines 4-5) suggests that she

A) views archaeological fieldwork with disdain

B) is being intentionally provocative

C) dislikes her chosen career

D) feels that academic research lacks value

E) is avoiding the interviewer’s questions

In these kinds of questions you need to be very careful as these are to be answered keeping the mentioned line numbers in mind and not the tone of the entire passage. While answering location questions read 2 to 3 lines above the location and 2 to 3 lines below .You will always find words backing up your answer there.

2) Questions based on entire passage: These questions are more holistic in nature vis-a-vis the location based questions .You need to read the entire passage before you go ahead and answer them. Questions like primary purpose, tone of the passage etc fall under this category. In case you are running out of time, then a careful scanning of the first and last sentences of each paragraph would be a wise idea to find the answer for these questions.

3) Word Meaning:  A word from a sentence in the passage is picked up and you need to identify the word with the closest meaning from the give options.

Q) In line 12, “captured” most nearly means

A) succeeded in reprising

B) gained possession of

C) held the attention of

D) took captive

E) absorbed fully


Here 2 passages will be given and questions will be based on both the passages. The only point of difference between these 2 passages is the questions comparing the 2 passages.

For example: The author of passage 1 would most likely claim that the view presented in lines 60-66, passges 2 is:

A) a cynical evaluation of worthwhile aspects of celebrity

B) a misguide approach to improving one’s career

C) an unfortunate acquiescence to celebrity culture

D) an inaccurate depiction of book tours and interviews

E) an exaggerated estimation of a lively cultural scene


Sentence completion is nothing but “fill in the blank” type of question .This is the section which tests you on your vocabulary primarily. Thus enhancing your vocabulary base with SAT Relevant words will definitely make it easier and faster for you to get to the right answer. However, despite your best efforts, in case you are not able to recall the exact meaning of a certain word or are unaware of its meaning, then you can always try to deduce the contextual meaning of the word by focusing on its possible tone, concentrating on the prefix or suffix attached to it etc.

Q) The legislator is known on Capitol Hill for his oratorical spontaneity, his ability to deliver………………..speech

A) am enigmatic

B) an abrasive

C) an impromptu

D) a meticulous


Answer is C reason being the first half of the question says that he is known for being spontaneous so this implies that his speeches will also be spontaneous. Thus we will look for a word that means quick. The only word that matches is impromptu which means on the spot.

Critical Writing

Critical Writing servers to evaluate your grammar and writing abilities. Grammar is checked using 3 types of questions:

Error Identification: As the name suggests, you need to identify the error in a particular sentence, if you think that there is one.

Q) It is now generally agreed that the rings of the planet Saturn are composed of several billion small ice particles.

A) It is


C) are composed of

D) several

E) no error

Answer is E

Sentence Correction: here a part of the given sentence will be underlined and you need to correct that grammatically.

Q)In 1882,there were only seven female doctors practicing in France, when in 1903 the number rising to 95.

A) when in 1903 the number rising

B) but by 1903 the number had risen

C) its number rising in 1903

D) there in 1903 the number rose

E) however, in 1903 when the number had risen

Answer is B

Whenever you see contrasting words like ‘but’, ‘instead’, ‘however’ etc in options, always check whether you need a contrasting word or not . If you do, then eliminate the options without these words or vice-versa.

In the given question we have a contrast as the number of lady doctors had increased when compared to pervious years. So, we can eliminate all options except A,C and D. We are left with B and E. Look at option E ,here you have unnecessary insertion of words whereas option is crisp and correct.

Paragraph Improvement: Here too you are rated on your grammar the only difference is that it is in the form of a paragraph.

Last but certainly not the least is the ESSAY. On a given topic you are required to structure an essay of 300-350 words. In order to score good marks on this section you need to keep 2 things in mind – quote good examples and use a varied language. The essay is marked on the basis of the structure of the essay, the examples and the language skills.

So hope we are geared up to take on the SAT with full enthusiasm!!!


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