Short RP Strategy
For long RPs, we advised you to read the entire passage,
make a sketchy outline, then check out the questions.
We suggested that you follow those steps in that order because it’d
be impossible to keep an 800-word passage and eight to thirteen
questions in your head.
But short RPs are short and have just two questions.
That means you can comfortably fit the entire passage
and the two questions in your head. It also means you don’t have
to worry about keeping an outline, since you’re dealing with only
one paragraph. The change in the length of the passage therefore
flips your whole strategy on its head: You should read the questions before you
read the passage. That way, you’ll have the exact questions
you need to answer in mind as you read the passage.
Read the two questions but not the
the passage, with special focus on answering the two questions.
up with answers for the two questions in your own words.
your answer to the correct answer.
Now let’s see what happens when we apply this method to
the two questions from our sample short RP.
Sample Short RP Answers and Explanations
Here’s the first question again:
reference to the “person in the middle of nowhere” primarily serves
||introduce a new argument
||challenge common beliefs
||highlight the limitations of an accepted idea
||question modern morals
||indicate the scope of a change
Let’s say you ignore our four-step method and read through
this passage, skipping step 1. You’d have no clue what the questions
are, so you’d just breeze by the phrase about the “person in the
middle of nowhere.” Then you’d get to the first question and would
have to go back to reread the entire sentence containing the “person
in the middle of nowhere” phrase, wasting precious time.
Instead, if you had followed step 1 and read the questions
first, you’d know what you were looking for. You’d then read the
passage and keep an eye out for that particular phrase (step 2).
You’d notice that the phrase “not even a person in the middle of nowhere
would be surprised to see a plane in the sky” emphasizes how common
airplanes are now, and it draws a contrast to a hundred years ago
when scientists did not believe such flight was possible. That means
the author uses that phrase to point out that today, no one, anywhere
would be surprised to see a plane in the sky. That’s your version
of the answer to this technique question (step 3). Now take a look
at the real answer choices and try to find one that matches yours
closely (step 4). E matches almost perfectly. The author
uses the reference to the “person in the middle of nowhere” to indicate
the scope of the change from the days when airplanes were foreign
to almost everyone.
Now, for the second question from the sample passage:
author of the passage would most likely agree with each of the following
||airplanes are a relatively recent innovation
||the Wright brothers took the first airplane flight
||air travel remains the privilege of the elite
||the word “airplane” was rarely used in the early twentieth
||airplanes can be seen almost anywhere
Reading the questions first (step 1) can save you lots
of time on EXCEPT questions. This themes and arguments question
asks you to find the statement that the author would not agree
with, so as you read the passage with the question in mind, you
can check off the statements that the passage confirms as you read.
Notice that on EXCEPT questions like this one, you have to read
the answer choices first as well, since the question alone does
not give you enough information to work with as you read the passage
(step 2). Using this method will actually allow you to skip step
3 and 4, since the answer will be the only unchecked answer choice
that remains after you’ve read the passage and checked off the statements
with which the author would agree.
The author’s main argument in this passage is that air
travel has become entirely commonplace even though the invention
of flight only happened 100 years ago. You can knock out A,
since the author would certainly agree that air travel is a recent invention.
Check off B since the author references the Wright
brothers’ famous first flight directly in the passage. D and E can
get checks too, because they cover material that the author clearly
supports in the passage: that airplanes can be seen even in the middle
of nowhere and that the word airplane only came
into common usage recently. Only C stands out as directly
against the author’s main theme and argument: rather than remaining
exclusively for the wealthy, air travel can now be enjoyed by almost
anyone. After having read the passage and checked off answer choices
as you read, only C would remain, and that’s the correct