Tip #18 to Get a Top SAT Critical Reading Score (page 3)
Remember from Skill 13 that as you read each passage, you are keeping in mind, "What is the main idea and what is the author's attitude?" In this Skill you will become an attitude master. An author's attitude is expressed through choice of words and punctuation. For example, what is the attitude expressed in each of the following?
- Politicians have once again overlooked the need for improvement in the infrastructure.
- Overworked politicians cannot be expected to foresee every need of their community.
Attitude toward politicians: disapproval
Attitude toward politicians: compassion, forgiveness
- Will Farrell is one funny guy.
- You're such a "funny" guy.
Attitude toward Will Farrell: admiration, appreciation
Attitude: criticism, sarcasm
Remember to answer attitude questions based on evidence in the passage, not your own attitude toward the subject or outside knowledge. If you need help, try rereading the first and last lines of each paragraph. Often, these lines convey the author's attitude.
The SAT favors mellow attitudes. An extreme answer with all-out hatred or complete unqualified worship is not usually correct. Usually the answer is more moderate. If fact, the correct answer often has moderate words such as "moderate," "tempered," "qualified," "veiled," "relative," "somewhat," or "generally."
The following is a monologue delivered in a 1998 movie. The speaker is about to scatter the ashes of his friend. (Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLLP.)
Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors . . . and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and . . . up to . . . Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright, flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364.1 These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.
- In this passage, the speaker's attitude toward Donny is primarily one of
- mournful eulogy
- unbiased detachment
- clear hostility
- elated nostalgia
- friendly regret
- The speaker's attitude toward bowling can best be described as
- earnest puzzlement
- In context, the tone of lines 7 to 10 ("In your wisdom . . . Hill 364.") is best described as
- The speaker's tone in the last two sentences is best described as
- (Skill 14) In line 9, "bright" most nearly means
- (Skill 14) In context, "bosom" (line 15) most nearly means
- (Skill 16) The reference in lines 9 and 10 to Khe Sanh and Langdok suggests
- Donny will be buried at Hill 364
- Donny died in combat
- the speaker misses these places
- the speaker also lost friends at these places
- bowling is like war
- A The italics help a lot; the speaker is mourning the loss of Donny. If you are unsure, use the process of elimination and choose the best choice. Even if you don't know the word "eulogy," you can get it with elimination.
- A The first line reads, "Donny was a good bowler, and a good man." The speaker relates the two and considers bowling very important. Then "He was one of us." He respects bowling. Remember to answer based on the passage, not your opinion of bowling!
- E The speaker is upset (not "ambivalent," which means "unsure") that these men died before "their time," but he is not bitter. He is resigned which means "accepting." If you are not sure, use the process of elimination. And remember to answer based on this passage, not your opinion, and not based on Walter's body language as he delivers this in The Big Lebowski, if you've seen it! (Great movie that I highly recommend!)
- C "Solemn" means "somber" or "serious." The speaker is serious and mournful. This was given away in the italics, since we knew from the start that he was scattering ashes. Don't be confused by "what we think your dying wishes might well have been." He is a doof, but he's primarily not confused. He's solemn.
- B "Bright" could means any of the answer choices, but in the passage it describes Donny and the young men that the speaker mourns who died at the battles mentioned. Choice B is the best; they were intelligent "flowering young men." You can treat this like a sentence completion and think of a word that you'd like to see and then use the process of elimination with the choices. Remember that the answer to this type of question will rarely be the most easy and obvious of the answer choices that you might choose without having read the passage.
- D Treat this like a sentence completion. Think of a word that you'd like to see, and then use the process of elimination with the choices. Remember that the answer to this type of question will rarely be the most easy and obvious of the answer choices that you might choose without having read the passage. "Comfort" is the only choice that works; they are scattering his ashes there for him to "rest in peace."
- D The speaker is eulogizing his friend Donny as he scatters his ashes. In doing so, he remembers others that he has lost and digresses for a moment to them. The line suggests that he misses them as he misses Donny. Remember that the key to a "suggest" question is not to overthink it. You could convince yourself of any of the answers, but only choice D has evidence and makes sense in the passage.
Go to: Tip #19
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